Let’s visit gay Palm Springs!
That’s right! Palm Springs is totally gay! The city is described colloquially as the oasis of the Coachella Valley desert and it is a city unlike any other offering a respite from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life with the perfect amount of kitsch. Located approximately two hours by car from Los Angeles and surrounded by desert and multiple mountain ranges, this modern city offers the perfect combination of nature and urban sophistication. In its glory days, Palm Springs was the playground of Hollywood’s rich and famous drawing in the likes of Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor. Today the city is home to a thriving LGBT community that truly shapes the direction of the city. In fact, it is the only city in the United States to elect an all-LGBT city council. While people enjoy visiting Palm Springs for the weather, architecture, and to relax, there is more to Palm Springs than meets the eye. Use this travel guide to help plan your trip if you want to visit gay Palm Springs!
Visit Gay Palm Springs
Today, Palm Springs is known by many as a city attracting a large LGBT population but how did it end up becoming a destination and home to gay people? In other words why do so many LGBT people visit gay Palm Springs? Historically, the city served as a place where Hollywood stars could get away from the prying eyes of the larger city. Celebrities could come to Palm Springs and live their lives free of any real scrutiny from the press or adoring fans. This was especially important to celebrities such as Cary Grant who simply wanted to live their lives. The concept of privacy did not only apply to celebrities but also extended to your normal, everyday person. This means LGBT people were and are able to shed their fear of reprisal due to identity. When you visit gay Palm Springs, you’ll feel as though you’ve entered another world. Walking down the street gazing into the windows of shops, often adorned with rainbow flags, while the sun warms you transports you to a place of safety. The laissez-faire attitude of the city is what makes it the perfect destination for LGBT people. You’ll come for the weather but stay for the accepting attitudes.
When to Visit Gay Palm Springs
Generally speaking, Palm Springs is warm year round to varying degrees (see what I did there). Since it is located in a desert, you won’t get freezing temperatures like you do in other destinations. Though the temperature change from day to night can often be drastic enough to merit a light jacket. Nevertheless, just as with most places, there are good and better times of the year to visit based on a number factors including temperatures, tourist numbers, and prices. Here is my advice for choosing the perfect time to visit gay Palm Springs.
Winter (The best time): Peak tourism season is from January to April which is also the winter season in Palm Springs. The weather is perfect during this time of the year with temperatures ranging from lows in the mid-50s (10C) to highs in the mid-80s (26C). However, peak tourism comes with peak prices. Hotel rates are much higher during this time of the year and attractions will be crowded.
Summer: The summer season is long and extremely hot lasting from May to September. Temperatures can be as high as 100 degrees (37C) and the city is practically drained of tourists. That means most attractions will not be crowded and hotel rates are much lower. Evening and night-time heat are much bearable during this time of the year. So if you’re a night owl, summer in Palm Springs might be right up your alley.
Fall: Autumn in Palm Springs is very nice with temperatures that are much more bearable than summer. Temperatures range from the upper 60s (15C) to the high 80s (26C) in Fall. There will still be fewer visitors than during the winter months and you can definitely snag some good deals on hotels. The only thing to consider is Fall is the time of year when business travelers and conventions descend on gay Palm Springs.
Clothing Optional Hotels-Palm Springs
Now, this guide is geared towards gay men so I’m including some amazing hotels that offer a more intimate, boutique atmosphere. Below you will find a number of hotel suggestions perfect for the gay traveler looking for a more liberating stay. By that, I mean to say these hotels are clothing-optional so you’ll likely see penis and bum on full display during your stay. If this is something you prefer to not experience then I suggest you choose a more traditional hotel. These are my suggestions after visiting a number of hotels in person and checking out what each one had to offer. For a more complete listing of clothing-optional resorts, check out all the hotels on the Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels website and better plan when you visit gay Palm Springs.
Santiago: This crowd favorite is one of the premier gay boutique hotels in Palm Springs. Santiago offers a plethora of amenities and perks including lunch with your stay, a cantina with snacks and beverages, hammocks, a huge pool, a mist-cooling system, and a lovely garden. The rooms are modern and beautiful offering the perfect place to relax after a long day of laying by the pool! Also, the manager of the place is super sweet!
Address: 650 E. San Lorenzo Rd. Palm Springs, CA 92264
Tortuga del Sol: The hotel where I stayed fits the bill in many ways and offers a free continental breakfast each morning, WiFi, an amazing gazebo area complete with pool table, poolside cabanas, and fruit trees all over the property. There are also turtles!! The rooms are more like suites complete with a kitchen, living room, bathroom, and extra-large bedrooms. I really enjoyed my stay here relaxing by the pool some of the time. It’s located directly across the street from Santiago.
Address: 715 E. San Lorenzo Road, Palm Springs, CA 92264
Escape: This hotel really blew me away when I walked in to tour the facility. The rooms are beautiful, the gardens are meticulous, and the overall feeling of the place reminds me of Mykonos. Take breakfast in your room in the morning or enjoy a nice cup of coffee next to the beautiful pool. As one of the longest running clothing optional resorts in Palm Springs, this place truly knows how to serve the gay male community. It’s been doing it since the 1950s. But don’t worry…everything is definitely updated and modern and ready for you when you visit gay Palm Springs.
Address: 641 E San Lorenzo Rd, Palm Springs, CA 92264
Triangle Inn: Situated in a stunning Mid Century Modern building with great mountain views, the Triangle Inn is a unique hotel surrounded by walls for privacy. Offering lush gardens, a swimming pool, jacuzzi, sundecks, and that clothing-optional liberating attitude, you’re bound to make some new friends while relaxing to the max. The hotel offers a variety of rooms for every taste that include kitchens or kitchenettes, large bathrooms, and the amenities one would expect from a quality hotel. Additionally, the hotel offers breakfast each morning and a mixer in the afternoons.
Address: 555 E. San Lorenzo Rd 92264 Palm Springs CA
Gay Bars in Palm Springs
Why visit gay Palm Springs if you’re going to ignore its gay scene? The city offers a number of venues to hang out, grab a drink, or dance the night away so you’re bound to find something you enjoy. The gay scene in Palm Springs is an eclectic mix of younger and older men… with the average age skewing higher than most destinations. So, if you love your older men, you’re in luck! Despite this, there are more than enough people to meet of all ages and walks of life. Keep an open mind and have a good time! Here are a few of my suggestions for bars you should check out!
Streetbar: This very friendly bar is the perfect place to hang out and meet locals. It’s something of a go-to for locals. Grab a beer, people watch, or sing a bit of karaoke and become the entertainment! Karaoke seems to be a serious deal here. It seemed as though every person who sang was pretty good!
Address: 224 E Arena Rd Palm Spring, CA 92262
Chill Bar: Offers a hip, modern bar complimented by a crazy variety of music ranging from country to electronic and everything in between. Everyone is welcome to dance and typically both male and female go-go dancers grace the establishment with their gifts. If dancing doesn’t suit you then just…chill.
Address: 217 E Arenas Rd Palm Springs, CA 92262
Hunters Nightclub: If you’re looking for your typical gay nightclub, look no further than Hunters. The club offers the latest dance hits, all the lights,, and an LED wall. So, it’s basically like any other club you might go to. It also boasts karaoke nights and Drag Shows! If this is your cup of tea then head to Hunters and drink it up, Hunty!
Address: 302 E Arenas Rd Palm Springs, CA 92262
Blackbook: This industrial themed bar serves as a gastro pub by day but is the perfect place to grab drinks at night. Blackbook offers a happy hour every day from 4-6 pm and generally has great specials. If you’re looking for something a bit more wild, Naughty Hour goes from 10 pm to midnight!
Address: 315 E Arenas Rd Palm Springs CA 92262
Quads: Love show tunes? Well, you’ll definitely want to head to Quads on the weekends when everyone hangs out belting to Broadway’s greatest. The bar also offers happy hour specials as well as karaoke. This bar is all about fun…so your sure to find it!
Address: 200 S Indian Canyon Dr Palm Springs 92262
Bonus: Leather Bars
Tool Shed: This is your typical leather bar with dark interiors and a party atmosphere. Thursdays are underwear night!
Address: 600 E Sunny Dunes Rd. Palm Springs, CA 92264
Barracks: Another leather bar with that warm, cozy leather scene interior! Barracks is dedicated to leather, boot, uniform, and other fetish. It’s also a major cruising destination. So, if you’re looking for that kind of fun, you’re bound to find it here.
Address: 67625 E Palm Canyon Drive Cathedral City, CA 92234
Tasty Eats in Gay Palm Springs
Palm Springs offers a great array of world-class dining so here are just a few of my suggestions!
Eight4nine: Located in the Uptown Design District of Palm Springs, Eight4Nine offers high quality meals using local ingredients when possible in a beautiful setting. The dining rooms are split up into multiple themed rooms with very interesting furniture and decor. Meals are bit pricey here but it’s totally worth it! Who knows…you might even see a celebrity!
Address: 849 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262
Zin Ameican Bistro: Open for lunch and dinner, the patio is great place to enjoy a cocktail and great meal while people watching. If you’re looking for some classic American food then this is the place for you! I had the steak salad which was absolutely delicious!
Address: 198 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262
Lulu: This popular restaurant offers food which can only be described as Californian featuring fresh breads, local ingredients, and many Mexican-inspired recipes. I absolutely loved the colorful and eclectic interior of this restaurant. It’s perfect for those Instagram shots!
Address: 200 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262
Purple Room: The Purple Room is a can’t miss dining experience…especially if it’s your first time visiting Palm Springs. The restaurant is located in the Club Trinidad Hotel and transports you to the Rat Pack era when Frank Sinatra, Sammy Dean, and all the others loomed large. These same artists also performed on the stage in the restaurant. Have drinks and enjoy a little jazz live performance. Trust me, you’ll get nostalgic even if you weren’t alive during that period in time. The food is delicious and the entertainment is awesome! It’s the perfect date night.
Address: 1900 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264
Visit Gay Palm Springs: Things To Do
When you visit Palm Springs, rest and relaxation should be the primary focus on your trip. Enjoy the sun and the dry air. Go out for drinks and meet some cute men. Hang by the pool at your hotel. Just hang out and let the time pass by slowly as you accomplish the maximum chill time possible. But if relaxing isn’t enough for you then Palm Springs offers a variety of activities. Here are a few that I suggest!
Palm Spring Aerial Tramway: This is one of the most interesting things I did while visiting Palm Springs. Essentially, it is a very a large ski lift that takes you to the top of the San Jacinto Mountains and it rotates as it ascends. The ride to the top takes about ten minutes and in the process the temperature will drop by double digits. Seriously, take a jacket! You can hang out the mountaintop restaurant, cafe, or lounge and take in the sweeping views of the Coachella Valley or you can hike deep in the forest located at the top for some pretty views.
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens: This museum is largely outdoors and is set up as a desert ecosystem with mission of conservation through preservation, education, and appreciation. You can explore North American and African deserts complete with wildlife including large cats and other creatures. Don’t forget to feed the giraffes and maybe take a camel ride!
Palm Springs Art Museum: This museum boasts works from many artists including Henry Moore, Helen Frankenthaler, and Robert Motherwell. The exhibitions focus on themes of the desert including Modernism, Native Americans, and the American West. Escape the heat and take in some culture!
Cabazon Dinosaurs: While technically not in Palm Springs proper, a quick 30 minute drive outside the city will take you back to Prehistoric times. The Cabazon Dinosaurs have been a road side attraction since the 1960s and have even been featured in movies and music videos. You can’t miss them as you drive past. The 100 ton Brontosaurus and T-Rex give them away. It’s definitely worth a quick drive to see this bit of classic Americana. It’s worth it for the picture alone!
Palm Springs Air Museum: If you’re an aviation fan then you don’t want to miss this museum showcasing planes from World War II, Korea, and the Vietnam Wars. With 40 flyable and static planes across three warehouses, you’ll get your aviation fix. You can check out all the planes and even take a flight aboard the C-47 Skytrain. The last one is pricey.
Art Galleries and Furniture: Palm Springs is known as a city of art so you’ll find no shortage of artistic inspiration. Wander around and check out all the artwork for a day. Or if you love furniture, explore Palm Springs design district. It’ll be difficult to not purchase some Mid Century Modern vintage pieces!
More Information About Gay Palm Springs
If you are looking for more information regarding what’s going on in Palm Springs then you should check out the Gay Desert Guide. Locally run, this website is where you will find all the information you need about LGBTQ life in Palm Springs including events, nightlife, shopping, and dining. It’s updated constantly and covers Palm Springs as well as the Coachella Valley.
So there you have it, a quick and concise guide to visit gay Palm Springs that can be a great launch point for planning your own trip. Would you like to visit Palm Springs and have your own gay adventure?
***Note: My visit to Palm Springs was sponsored by Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels. However, all opinions are 100% my own!
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