The Color Lover’s Travel Guide to Palm Springs + Joshua Tree
You know that feeling when you travel somewhere and can’t believe the entire place is photogenic? Like, every corner of the town down to the pawn shops and parking lots? That’s how we felt about Palm Springs and Joshua Tree. Yes, the mid-century architecture, magical other-worldly national park, palm trees a-plenty, and expansive Mojave Desert are no doubt majestic. But what truly makes these destinations beautiful is that everything is perpetually sun-drenched, and better for it. The sun is an integral part of the Palm Springs and Joshua Tree experience, and it seems as though everything has been designed with the bright, hot sun in mind. If you consider yourself a color lover, you need to witness this firsthand. Today, we’ve teamed up with the Sherwin-Williams® ColorSnap® Visualizer app to bring you our second installment of our travel guides for the color obsessed. And it’s all about sun, sun, sun and the breathtaking color palettes that sunlight creates in Southern California. Let’s go!
Thanks to the ColorSnap Visualizer app, we have a tool to bring these incredible color palettes off of our cameras and into our home. ColorSnap Visualizer app samples colors from your photos and creates a customizable palette using Sherwin-Williams paint colors. With the help of this app, we created the following color palettes from our travels. We even applied one to a foyer renovation, which you can take a peek at toward the end of this post.
BTW, we’re totally making the phrase, “But first, let me take a ColorSnap” a thing :)
Welcome to Palm Springs, home to some of the most exquisite architecture, resorts, and desertscapes in the world. Like San Francisco, Palm Springs ain’t shy about color. There’s no shortage of neon front doors, aquamarine pools, and vivid green tall palms — which happen to pair brilliantly with the blue, blue desert sky. It’s a color lover’s dream.
Peer up at all the palm trees. There must be tens of thousands of palm trees in Palm Springs. The bold green stocks line the streets, cluster in front of hotels, and bridge the magnificent one-story structures with the perennially blue sky. They’re generally hard to miss — turn down any random road and you’ll see a perfect line of them like this one. You may come home with a sore neck, just sayin’.
Brunch at a hotel’s restaurant. If you haven’t already gathered, hotel-hopping is a solid pastime in Palm Springs. There are plenty of open-concept poolside restaurants at the swanky hotels located in the area. The designers of these hotels have put a ton of effort into their color palettes, often using nature as their guide, so be sure to hit up as many as you can for inspiration. (Nothing wrong with brunching twice in one day, right?!)
Take a sartorial cue from the resident retirees. Kaftans, kimonos, blouses, oh my! We can thank Palm Springs for making our grandma’s patterned clothes cool again. Stop by some of the town’s iconic vintage stores and adorn yourself in the necessary pastel 1970s resort-chic attire.
Feast your eyes on the bounty of mid-century architecture. There’s a lot to be said about Palm Springs’ mid-century details — heck, you could have your entire trip revolve around touring them. Like we mentioned earlier, it seems like each building has been built with the sun in mind. We love that shadows serve as an architectural feature, and oftentimes the structures’ vibes actually change with the time of day. Aside from highlighting the genius design of the place, these shadows make for some swoon-worthy color stories.
Take a dip in a pool. Palm Springs can get pretty hot, so book a hotel that has a pool, then lounge away the hours in epic sunshiny chaises. If your hotel doesn’t have one, make some calls to see where you can get a day pass.
Snap an Instagram of #ThatPinkDoor. On an unassuming suburban street resides the most famous front door on the internet: #ThatPinkDoor. Sure, its celebrity story is a bit of mystery, but we do think it perfectly symbolizes the genius of Palm Springs architecture: pastel tones, clean lines, shadow play, and brilliant execution. It’s like a giant pink chocolate candy bar, and we ain’t mad about it :)
Get your cactus fix at the botanical gardens. Cactus lovers, behold: Palm Springs hosts the world’s first (and only?) cactarium. It’s a dreamy oasis for plant lovers. Run by the same family for decades, the property boasts over 3,000 plant varieties, and is a mecca of desert earth tones. We gladly spent the afternoon in this incredible greenhouse to rest and reboot before our next stop.
Grab a refreshing specialty cocktail at an outdoor bar. While you’re hotel hopping, be sure to save some time to post up at their open-air bar. Grab their cocktail (or mocktail) menu and whet your whistle with a mixologist special. Fancy drinks are perfect fodder for some Insta-worthy shots.
Up next, Southern California’s capitol of quirk! Joshua Tree is home to some of the funkiest outdoor art structures we’ve ever seen, as well as some breathtaking desertscapes. It’s an ideal retreat destination for artists and nature-lovers alike. If you’re already in Palm Springs, the hour drive to this area is 100 percent worth it.
Take a hike in Joshua Tree National Park. This one’s a no-brainer. Joshua Tree is an expansive national park full of otherworldly trees, rock structures, and cacti as far as the eye can see. As is the case in Palm Springs, the park’s color story changes immensely from sunrise, to high noon, to dusk, and each palette is more beautiful than the next.
Glimpse the rare and beautiful red cactus flowers. While you explore the vast Joshua Tree National Park, keep an eye out for these blood-red beauties. It’s astounding that such muted earth tones can give life to such a vibrant hue. But that’s just nature bein’ all cool and mysterious, isn’t it?
Check out all the funky small businesses. Drive through the town of Yucca Valley, adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park, to experience some wacky and unique shops and restaurants. There are so many beautifully curated vintage shops with some stellar exteriors.
Take a moment to appreciate all the purple (!) cacti. And just when you thought green cacti were perfect plants, this purple species had to go and one-up ‘em. Y’all, purple cacti exist in majestic Joshua Tree, and we officially have a new obsession. And also a new go-to color palette :)
Lastly, lose track of time at an outdoor desert museum. Scenery and hotels aren’t the only gems to see in Palm Springs and Joshua Tree. The desert provides an eery yet beautiful landscape for outdoor museums. Artists and enthusiasts alike come from afar to view unhoused installations with a backdrop unlike any other.
LET PALM SPRINGS INSPIRE YOUR HOME DECOR
The ColorSnap Visualizer app made it a breeze to bring Mojave Desert vibes back home with us. All we had to do was take one of our vacation photos and upload it to the app, which captured colors and matched them to Sherwin-Williams paint colors. From there, it was super simple to create a custom color palette for our home decor. Hours of furniture assembly and a few coats of paint later, we had our very own Palm Springs oasis at home. Check it out!
We’re pretty smitten with the results. We painted the walls Goldenrod SW 6677, Something Blue SW 6800, and High Reflective White SW 7757, then refinished a mid-century entryway bench with Direct Green SW 6924 to pay homage to the vibrant palm trees. Lastly, we updated a metal planter with a coat of Electric Lime SW 6921. Easy, peasy!
That’s it, folks! Hopefully, I’ve convinced you just how imperative a trip to the Mojave Desert is for your home renovations, not to mention your Instagram account ;) Happy travels!
Are you putting this travel guide to use on your next trip? We want to see! Share photos on Instagram and tag #britstagram so we can take a peek!
Color Palettes: Maddie Bachelder + Karen Pham
Production + Styling: Maddie Bachelder + Cassidy Miller
Photography: Brittany Griffin, Chris Andre + Lucas Saugen