By Bill Malcolm
Palm Springs is one of the best vacation destinations, in my humble opinion. Snow-covered peaks rise dramatically from the desert floor. The LGBTQ+ welcoming city features new bike lanes, new resorts, and new restaurants. The new Uptown Design District north of downtown celebrates the city’s Modernism heritage (and features the new Descanso Resort). And yes, the city is very queer from the mayor on down. With record snow in the mountains and lots of rain this will be a momentous year for wildflowers.
WHAT TO DO
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Hike the Indian Canyons (38520 South Palm Canyon Drive) and enjoy the palm tree oasis, which features wildflowers, barrel cacti, and other interesting features. I hiked both the Indian Canyon and nearby Andreas Canyon trails. The wildflowers were incredible as were the view of the San Jacinto snowcapped peaks. I biked there from Twin Palms Resort. The canyons are the ancestral home of the Aqua Caliente people who charge a fee to enter. The desert oasis features the California Fan Palm, which is native to the Coachella Valley. You can even have lunch or pick up a souvenir at the Trading Post. Details at Indian-canyons.com.
The new Oswiit Preserve also features great hiking, wildflowers, and cacti. And it is free.
Work out at the World Gym, 1751 N. Sunrise Way.
Walk around the cute downtown. Snap a picture of the oversized Marilyn Monroe statue next to the Art Museum.
Image Credit: Visit Palm Springs
Most of the bars are on Arenas Street downtown. Hunters (of Wilton Manor/Ft. Lauderdale fame) has a location here. Locals love Quads and Streetbar. Streetbar was voted “best karaoke.” The Chill Bar and Blackbook are also nice. Who does not love a neighborhood with so many options? The leather crowd may be found at The Toolshed, which is farther away (on 600 E. Sunny Dunes).The new Reforma Nightclub also doubles as a restaurant. In nearby Cathedral City, you will find the Barracks, Studio 111, and The Roost.
WHERE TO STAY
Image Credit: Visit Greater Palm Springs
I stayed for four nights at the new Twin Palms Resort just south of town at 1930 S. Camino Real. The 20-unit property features a pool and hot tub and includes breakfast and lunch (plus a happy hour Thursday-Saturday). Everything is included, even the 24-hour snack bar area. The rooms are great, and many have outdoor patios. The view of the nearby snowcapped peaks is stunning. You can walk to Koffi and the Ace Hotel Restaurant as well as several restaurants in a nearby shopping complex. The pool scene is friendly and it is easy to meet a lot of people The free bikes make for an easy trip to nearby Indian Canyons or Tahquitz Canyons to go hiking. The male-only property is owned by the same folks that own Descanso Resort and Santiago Resorts. If you drive an EV, they feature plenty of EV chargers.
I also spent two nights at Descanso Resort. north of downtown at 288 E. Camino Monte Vista. It is Palm Springs’ newest resort. The two-story property is also male only and features a nice pool and hot tub, free breakfast, and lunch, and more. The nearby 7-11 is very handy and you can shop and dine in the nearby Design District.
Other hotel options include the hipster friendly Ace Hotel (near the Twin Palms).
WHERE TO EAT
533 Viet Fusion at 1775 W. Palm Canyon features the best Vietnamese and Thai dishes. Try the yellow curry as well as the ginger green bean appetizer. The curry shrimp is also excellent as is the pad Thai. Wash it down with a lemon drop cocktail. The Aspen Mills Bakery and Café features great sandwiches and salads. Try the vegetable salad. The cafe provides the lunch at both the Descanso and Twin Palms Resorts.
The Bar Cecil is the best restaurant in town. Try the steak frites.
GETTING THERE / GETTING AROUND
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All the major airlines in North America now serve PSP. Hop on the #2 Sunline Bus across the street from the airport to get downtown for just US$1 and skip the airport surcharge on UBER or the high rental car rates (with plenty of taxes, fees and surcharges that almost double the cost).
The White Party will be held in May this year. Running from 12-14 May, it features daytime pool parties and energy-filled dancing at night. Get your pass and details at whitepartyglobal.com.
DesertX is now underway. See art installations across the desert encouraging visitors to consider the interconnectedness of life and the presence and absence of water.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
GED Magazine is your local LGBTQ+ publication (gedmag.com).The Gay Desert Guide is immensely helpful.
I never tire of a visit to the desert. There is so much to do or you can relax by the pool. If you are in the mood, San Diego and Los Angeles are both just two hours away. Joshua Tree National Park and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park are two other adventure options. And a tram goes to the top of the mountain where you can cross-country ski or hike. Palm Springs has it all.
Bill Malcolm has visited Palm Springs annually for many years and has many friends who have moved there. You can find his travel publication in LGBTQ+ publications around the country. Special thanks to the Adam at Twin Palms Resort and Kent at the Descanso Resort for their hospitality and travel tips.
Featured Image Credit: Visit Greater Palm Springs