It’s likely you were lured to the desert by the promise of endless sun, sparkling swimming pools, rejuvenating spa treatments, or perhaps a chance to play sports like golf and tennis. But no trip to Palm Springs or the resort-filled cities that surround it is complete until you add shopping to your vacation agenda. Between renowned local designers, a collective of artists’ studios, and some of the best vintage stores in the country for both fashion and mid-century modern home furnishings and décor, this guide outlines the nine best spots to pick up that special something to take home.
A great starting point for both a Palm Springs shopping spree and a getaway in general is downtown. Bordered roughly by Alejo and Ramon Roads, the neighborhood is extremely walkable, offers great people watching, and is filled with public art and eye-catching architecture. Here you can find just about any kind of store you might need, whether you’re in the market for cigars, menswear from the UK (British Invasion), vinyl, a vintage Hermès scarf (Mitchells), a kimono (Johnny Was), crystals, fine jewelry, or Minnetonka moccasins. (Unusually the last three are all found at Stuart’s.) Downtown offers a mix of national chains and indie boutiques. The best of the latter is Thick As Thieves, which stocks wide-brimmed wool fedoras, antique rugs, macramé, palo santo bundles, and other curios for the Coachella crowd in a beautiful boho setting.
Every Thursday evening, the main drag shuts down to traffic and Villagefest, with its street food, pop-up booths, and live entertainment. While you're wandering, look down to see more than 400 famous people with a connection to the city immortalized on the Walk of Stars.
There are plenty of bars and restaurants to seek refuge in. Stay at one of the many downtown hotels like Kimpton Rowan or Holiday House so you can break up exploration into manageable chunks, easily return to an item you were undecided on, or drop bags off when your arms are full.
The north end of Palm Canyon (between Alejo and Vista Chino) is downtown’s older, hipper, and more sophisticated sister. The Uptown Design District has a high concentration of must-visit stores specializing in kitschy gifts (Just Fabulous), art (Shag), furniture and home goods (Modern Way, Christopher Kennedy, Pelago), vintage everything (Iconic Atomic, Dazzles), comfy caftans (The Frippery), and contemporary fashion and shoes (Elizabeth & Prince). All located in a small area, your best plan of attack is to pop in and out of each as something in the window catches your eye. If you need a quick pick-me-up, get your caffeine fix at Ernest Coffee.
The district isn’t lacking in local designers like Candice Held, either. There is perhaps no one more synonymous with style in this city than Trina Turk. Find her vibrant, often patterned resort wear at the flagship housed within an original 1960s Albert Frey building.
End the day with a round of ice cream from Shop(pe) in the Arrive Hotel complex. While they’re scooping, peruse the trendy tchotchkes, Palm Springs souvenirs, and stationary on the other side of the store.
Nicknamed the Rodeo Drive of the Desert, this stretch of street in Palm Desert is lined with ritzy and refined retailers (Ralph Lauren, Escada, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co, and St. John) as well as restaurants catering to those with champagne tastes and a champagne budget. Various centers gather multiple retailers in one convenient location, including the Saks Fifth Avenue-anchored Gardens on El Paseo and The Shops on El Paseo. The Courtesy Cart can give you a free lift to the west end of the strip for more luxury lines plus smaller boutiques, art galleries (Imago, Coda), and jewelry stores. The district hosts the West Coast’s largest consumer fashion show annually and a rotating exhibit of sculptures on the medians.
For over a decade, an ever-rotating community of regional and national artists working in a variety of mediums has come together under one roof. As some maintain a studio in the Backstreet Art District, visitors often get a glimpse of how a masterpiece comes together while browsing. You can even chat with the artists about the meaning behind their favorite photo or sculpture. Art walks are held on the first Wednesday of each month.
Built by architect E. Stewart Williams as an insurance and real estate company in 1955, this modern stunner was reborn in 2012 as a collection of goop-approved shops. Load up on Moroccan-inspired rugs and pillows (Soukie Modern), made-in-California graphic rock band tees (Daydreamer), succulents (The BackYard), and handmade lead-free ceramics (Double M Pottery). When you're all set, pose with your prizes in front of the Insta-worthy pink wall. If you want to take something home with you as a reminder of desert vibes and good times, do not skip Palm Springs Style.
This Palm Desert emporium is a candy-colored treasure trove of impeccably sourced high-quality vintage outfits and accessories. Housed in an architecturally significant historic building, the Fine Art of Design is a secret weapon oft relied on by celebrities, stylists, costumers, and influencers. A sift through The Waffle House-esque caftan selection—they come embroidered, pleated, beaded, fringed, and studded—alone is worth a trip. Once there, you’re guaranteed to get lost in the epochs as you try on cat-eye sunglasses, oversized cocktail rings, peep-toe pumps, Pucci frocks, and flowing Valentino blouses. Menswear is also represented.
If you like designer duds—especially at a discount—this massive outdoor outlet mall is a must. More than 150 brands are represented; many are on the high-end side including Alexander McQueen, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Prada, Lululemon, Fendi, Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs, and Swarovski. You can also stock up on athletic gear, jewelry, baby clothes, luggage, teen-friendly threads, and toiletries. Grumpy partners can hide out at the food court or take the complimentary round-trip shuttle to the Morongo Casino next door. Desert Hills Premium Outlets is 20 miles from Palm Springs proper on the 10, so it’s an easy stop on your way in or out of town.
For nearly 40 years, this community college campus has hosted an alfresco (but shaded) market every weekend. Set up close to the corner of Monterey Avenue and Magnesia Falls in Palm Desert, more than a thousand items—ranging from art/crafts and pet supplies to clothing, jewelry, and furniture—are on offer. There’s also live entertainment, vintage car meet-ups, a farmers' market, and occasional special events like golf cart auctions. Free admission and parking are available.
Despite looking historic, the moniker is misleading as this pristine shopping village was completed in the 21st Century. After picking up lotions at h2o Closet, golf gear, or freshly-pressed local olive oil, you can partake in many self-care options (think cold craft beer at La Quinta Brewing's taproom, facials, and pedicures). Art on Main Street gathers hundreds of artists to display their work in March. Sunday is the best (and busiest) day to visit as a farmers’ market spreads out during the mornings and many retailers move wares to the sidewalks and host sales.