The History of Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a desert jewel gleaming with possibilities.


Few towns are as blessed as Palm Springs. Vibrant, historic, authentic, and spectacular, Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley have been drawing people from around the world for centuries.

The Cahuilla Indians were the first to arrive, attracted by the abundance of the region, including the local natural hot springs. By the early 1900s, the area’s natural beauty and warm, dry climate became a destination for those seeking to improve their health and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians soon opened the first spa hotel in the area.

Today, the stunning Agua Caliente Cultural Museum continues the Band’s traditions of education and stewardship, including overseeing the natural wonders of their ancestral Tahquitz Canyon and Indian Canyons oases.

In the 1920s, Hollywood discovered Palm Springs. Attracted by both the beauty and the privacy, movie stars escaped to the Coachella Valley for fun and relaxation, including the likes of Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, and Charlie Chaplin.

During World War II, the area played an important role as a military training ground for General Patton and his brigades. Today, still-flying Air Force planes from the era can be seen at the Palm Springs Air Museum.

When the 1950s arrived, people flocked to Palm Springs again, including the rich and famous. Frank Sinatra and other members of The Rat Pack had homes here. In 1961, Gene Autry, the ‘Singing Cowboy’, purchased a piece of property and christened it Melody Ranch, named after his former radio show and one of his movies.

At that point, Gene Autry was already the owner of The California Angels baseball team (now the Anaheim Angels). Melody Ranch became a popular spot for his ball players to relax and he built a second pool just for them. Melody Ranch was purchased by media mogul Merv Griffin in the 1980s and the property became a swinging playground for Hollywood, where many a film deal was made sitting by the pool.

What was once Melody Ranch is now our very own Parker Palm Springs and we will be celebrating 20 wonderful years in 2024. Styled by famed American interior designer Jonathan Adler, the hotel offers some of the most stunning accommodations in Palm Springs including the beautifully appointed Gene Autry Suite.

In the early and mid-parts of the last century Palm Springs also began attracting artists, designers, architects, and artisans. Luminaries such as Charles Eames, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Ansel Adams worked and occasionally lived in the valley. Their legacy helped develop Palm Springs as a hub for all things mid-century modern.

Palm Springs is full of iconic architecture, both residential and commercial, and the twice yearly Modern Week is a celebration of the aesthetic and tours of iconic homes and buildings are also a popular year-round attraction. The Palm Springs Art Museum, one of the most influential in the country, is also a great place to see the mid-century modern style in painting, sculpture, furniture, and more.

In the mid-nineties, Sonny Bono of Sonny and Cher fame became the Mayor of Palm Springs. He was instrumental in helping establish the Palm Springs Film Festival. It is now a must-attend event for movie-lovers and the film industry.

The incredible confluence of art, music, film, and architecture in Palm Springs was the impetus for what is now one of the most influential cultural events anywhere – the Coachella Valley Music & Art Festival. Simply referred to as Coachella, the festival brings together luminaries from the world of music, art, and style, celebrating the creative spirit over two weekends.

Modern Palm Springs captures the zeitgeist of our country today, informing us on so much of what is beautiful in life. From dining, art and music, to film, fashion, and design, Palm Springs continues to inspire us with its verve, whimsy, and incredible natural beauty.


About Us

Parker Palm Springs receives regular accolades as the best boutique hotel in Palm Springs. We offer only 144 rooms on thirteen acres of exclusive, private property. To help plan your next vacation, weekend escape, special event, or wedding, please Contact us.

Call 760-321-4606 or email us with questions

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Stories, events, and travel inspiration from Parker Palm Springs, America’s desert oasis.