Greater Palm Springs, with its large and vibrant lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populous, is known the world over as an LGBT comfort zone. Visitors will find a smorgasbord of food and fun waiting for them here, starting with Arenas Road in downtown Palm Springs.
When night falls, this strip should be the first stop on the LGBT itinerary. It’s where you can find wearables no matter what your proclivity, nibbles and about a half dozen bars all tuned to the LGBT traveler. But there’s another element to Arenas Road, and the valley, that many find attractive: comradery and safety for outness.
“It’s freedom,” said Conrad Miller, a Cathedral City realtor. Miller and several Chill Bar regulars wax philosophical about what draws them to this spot.
“There really is a sense of community on this street,” retired Principal Mike Madalinksy chimed in.
Debi Nelson, Chill Bar’s assistant manager, said, “In the Gayborhood, we don’t judge. We welcome.”
After an evening of bar hopping, Bongo Johnny’s is a great place for late-night eats. If it’s much later – say, the morning after – try a hangover brunch with bottomless mimosas at Pinocchio’s or an Asian take on brunch at Watercress Vietnamese Bistro.
There are several gay clubs outside Arenas. Toucan’s Tiki Lounge in North Palm Springs is chief among them. The music is bumpin’ in the tropical room full of bamboo totem poles and exotic flora.
“It’s my favorite place,” said John Fritch, owner of Elevated Experiences restaurant inside the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, as Janet Jackson’s “Nasty” boomed on the sound system. “It’s not too clubby and everybody, gay and straight, is welcome.”
Greater Palm Springs also boasts gay resorts that vary in sexual temperature from cool to hot! Most are clothing optional and run from intimate (under 10 rooms) to a party atmosphere with day and night passes. Those include CCBC in Cathedral City and All Worlds Resort in the Warm Sands neighborhood where most resorts are clustered. Stay for a few hours or for the night.
Hip hotels include the brand new Arrive at the entrance to Palm Springs, on the north, to the Saguaro, on the south and the Ace Hotel in between. Most are connected by the BUZZ, a free trolley that traverses the city, north to south, mostly along Indian and Palm Canyon drives. No need for a car: BUZZ makes weekend rides to shopping, bars and dining a breeze.
Daytime in Palm Springs is as rich as nighttime. Artistry and creativity fuel galleries, clothing stores and restaurants downtown. The midcentury modern theme of clean lines and primary colors reminiscent of the 1950s and 60s are woven throughout.
You can dress up for a night out with midcentury flair at Trina Turk Palm Springs Boutique.
“Trina is inspired by architecture,” said Assistant Manager Megan Waldbillig, “and the period when the tailored fit met the psychedelic. Clothing, housewares and even pillows explode in geometric shapes, flowers and paisleys that are fully saturated ‘In Color’.”
That theme permeates the Uptown Design District running north along Palm Canyon. There’s also the restaurant that started the uptown revival–Trio. Or you can find an upscale dining experience at the new Eight 4 Nine restaurant, nosh outdoors at Birba or enjoy a more intimate setting at Jake’s.
The new #ILoveGayPalmSprings shirts, mugs and other gift items are available alongside hundreds of other locally-branded tchotchkes from Destination PSP, just across from the new West Elm. Downtown exists in harmony with the Antiques Galleries of Palm Springs and other shops nested off Sunny Dunes where you’ll also find the town’s Levis/Leather Bar Toolshed and leather store, Gear.
Those who enjoy nature and hiking can experience stunning vistas, and a hearty workout, at trails throughout the valley. The mother of them all? The Tramway, a rotating cable car that ascends 8,500 feet to the pristine wilderness of Mt. San Jacinto State Park. Along the way, visitors traverse five climate zones from desert to alpine. According to Greg Purdy, Tramway spokesman, geographically, it’s like going from Mexico to Alaska.
There’s also art and design and high-end marvels at points east of Palm Springs in Palm Desert. They include a shopping district anchored by the Gardens at El Paseo and numerous art galleries including The Art Place and the Palm Springs Art Museum’s second campus.
Explore quaint Old Town La Quinta by foot or by pedal – with the help of electric power and a Pedego Electric Bike. La Quinta Brewing has a tasting room here as well as independent coffee bars and restaurants.
In fact, the entire valley from Palm Springs to Coachella has treasures waiting to be discovered by LGBT adventurers. Jump in. Whenever you arrive, the temperature is just right.