Gay Vacations in Palm Springs, California

Palm trees in Palm Springs, California
Palm Springs, California (Kenna Love/Digital Vision/Getty)

Palm Springs Highlights

  • Be creative in your drive there. Bumper-to-bumper traffic from L.A. on Friday and Sunday evenings can nearly ruin a weekend jaunt to Palm Springs. If you’re doing a grand tour of Southern California, drive instead from San Diego. The route is on more scenic back roads with little traffic. Or simply fly directly to the Palm Springs airport, which has many direct flights from across the country.
  • To rent or not rent a car, that is the question. If you just want to lie by the pool, don’t bother to rent a car. (Most lodging has some sort of food and drink service on site.) But if you want to hit the nightlife or check out the natural attractions in the area, you’ll probably want to rent a car.
  • Summer has lower rates. Although Palm Springs is becoming something of a year-round destination, room rates are lower in the summer when temperatures can easily top 100 degrees. But who cares if you're naked under a mister or in a cool pool?


Just a three-hour drive from L.A., Palm Springs was a queer getaway as early as the 1930s, when closeted or simply curious Hollywood stars came here to live their lifestyles far from prying eyes. Together with sister cities Cathedral City, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, and Rancho Mirage, it lines the Coachella Valley, bordering the Mojave Desert and fortressed by the towering San Jacinto Mountains. The rejuvenated downtown still retains a lot of its original charm, with art galleries and chic shops and restaurants lining the main drag of North Palm Canyon Drive. But most LGBT travelers come to this desert oasis to simply bask in the warmth by a frisky gay swimming pool and to let their hair down in an array of LGBT bars and clubs.

But there's plenty to do if you want to get out and about. About a 45-minute drive from downtown Palm Springs is the mystical and monumental Joshua Tree National Park, with over half a million scenic acres. The Palm Springs area also is quickly becoming famous for its mid-century architecture, and gay-run tours can take you to some of the best examples (and show you the stars' homes as well). Spend an evening at the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, a rather risque vaudeville show performed by professional senior citizen dancers! And don’t forget the town's major LGBT events, including the enormous lesbian circuit event, The Dinah, in late March, with crazy pool parties and dancing all night long (oh yeah, there's a golf tournament as well!). For guys, there’s the White Party at the city’s convention center—with outdoor parties as well—in early April. The town has not one but two events for large men and their admirers—one in April and one in November. May brings a local gay rodeo, and Palm Springs Pride is in November. The Gay and Lesbian Tennis Association Palm Springs Open also happens in November. And there’s the well-respected and star-attended Palm Springs International Film Festival in early January.

Published: 16 Jul 2008 | Last Updated: 9 Aug 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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