A true oasis in the heart of the Californian desert, Palm Springs has been one of America's favorite gay destinations for decades, with dozens of gay and lesbian resorts and huge gay events like the White Party attracting tens of thousands of gay revelers. With a touch of Hollywood glamor, a pinch of Las Vegas entertainment, Palm Springs will surprise you with its modernist architecture, hot springs and its bustling gay life. Here are 10 good reasons to put Palm Springs on your gay bucket list!
Located two hours drive south-east of Los Angeles, Palm Springs is a city of 45,000 people located in the Californian desert, west of the Coachella valley, under the massive Mount San Jacinto. The climate is warm and dry all year round, with 350 days of sunshine. If you can, visit during the high season in winter. The temperatures, in summer, exceed 100°F regularly.
Around Palm Springs you will enjoy over 150 kilometers of hiking trails in the desert. You can also explore by jeep splendid canyons like Indian Canyons and Tahquitz Canyon or old palm groves. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway will take you effortlessly to the top of Mount San Jacinto, which overlooks the Coachella Valley.
The Water !
Palm Springs is a true oasis and one of the best wellness destinations in the world: enjoy the many resort and hotel pools, the Wet n 'Wild Water attraction, Palm Springs’ water park and countless hotel spas where your body will enjoy the Californian desert minerals. The largest concentration of hot springs is in Desert Hot Springs.
Since the 1920’s, influenced by the dictates of desert living and the intense climate, Palm Springs developed its own architectural style, Desert Modernism. Architects and designers have developed it while using inventive materials, modern construction techniques, new (post-war) technologies, glass, clean lines. The city has the largest concentration of mid-century modern architecture.
Do not miss a guided tour on this theme, including the discovery of beautiful celebrities houses like those of Liberace, Sinatra, Elvis ...
Since the 1920’s, Palm Spring’s has been Hollywood’s playground, attracting the biggest stars to relax and escape from the hustle and bustle of showbiz. Frank Sinatra, Clark Gable, Kirk Douglas, Ava Gardner, Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor were just some of the celebrities who stayed and purchased hideaway homes in Palm Springs lr visited frequently. In the 70’s, Sonny, of Sonny and Cher, was elected mayor of the city. The Obamas visited Palm Springs several times, including the day they left the White House last January.
Palm Springs even has its "Walk of Stars", located on Palm Canyon Drive, Tahquitz Canyon Way and Museum Drive.
Bustling Gay Life
For decades Palm Springs has been a favorite LGBT destination in the US, in the very liberal state of California. The city has more than 20 gay and lesbian resorts and guesthouses, including many clothing optional resorts. The city hosts internationally renowned gay events such as the White Party, one of the largest international gay clubbing festivals, and Dinah Shore, the biggest lesbian event in the world. Other notorious gay events include the annual gay and lesbian film festival and the Pride festival in November, followed by the Leather Pride.
During your visit, don’t miss some iconic gay venues like the Hunter's, Toucans Tiki Lounge, Wang's, Spurline and Carnival Cabaret
Arts and Entertainment
Day or night, Palm Springs offers a wide range of activities, from museums such as the Palm Springs Art Museum or the Palm Springs Air Museum to casinos.
The main points of interest, shops, restaurants, bars and clubs - both gay and non-gay - can be found along Palm Canyon Drive. In the evening, there is plenty of shows in the numerous theaters and cabarets.
To get around, take the Buzz, a free retro bus that runs through Palm Springs day and night, the perfect way to go out at night without fear of drinking too much
The White Party
Launched in 1989, Palm Springs’ White Party has become the largest gay clubbing festival in the United States, attracting more than 30,000 participants from around the world every year for a weekend of pool parties, club night and outdoor events in the heart of the Californian desert. The highlight of the festival is the White Party itself, a giant celebration of music and love under the stars. (Photo © Iggy Lopez)
The Downtown and the Uptown Design District offer a vast collection of mid-century modern retailers, fashion boutiques, consignment dealers, art galleries and antiques shops. Every Thursday evening, Villagefest transforms multiple blocks of downtown into an outdoor festival with over 200 booths showcasing artwork, handcrafted items and live entertainment.
For a glamourous shopping afternoon, head to The Shops On El Passeo aka the "Rodeo Drive of the Desert" and visit this amazing collection of luxury shops in the heart of the desert.
Gay Resorts and Hotels
With Provincetown and Key West, Palm Springs is undoubtedly the gayest destination in the United States, with dozens of gay and lesbian resorts, of which twenty are clothing optional. The most famous of them is the Escape Resort which offers pool parties accessible to guests and non-guest. Travelers wishing to stay gay can also choose the Triangle Inn, the Exile Inn, The Hacienda or the INN Dulge.
Unless otherwise specified, all pictures © VisitPalmSprings.com