Journey of Water Opens at EPCOT Next Month — What to Know Before You Go
Virgin Voyages Blog
Inspiration for a Couple's Getaway
Cruise Planners Blog
Cruise Planners Advisor Mike Moyer Attends the Space Perspective Explorer Social
Hotels and Resorts
Regent Oceanfront Butler Suite
Greater Miami & Miami Beach Specialist
Travel Suppliers With the Best Commissions for Travel Advisors
Partner With Palladium and Sell as a Specialist
When I think of Palm Springs, I picture iconic Hollywood stars of yesteryear retreating to their homes or favorite spots there-Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball, Elizabeth Taylor, Zsa Zsa Gabor and the like. It's almost an extension of Los Angeles, right? In fact, the gorgeous Coachella Valley became what it was partially because it wasn't L.A. Many studio contracts back in the day stipulated that stars had to remain with a 100-mile radius of the studios. And Palm Springs, almost exactly 100 miles due east, was a perfect getaway.
Today, the area is well known as a playground for LGBTQ travelers, and especially as a popular retirement spot for gay couples. Visitors will find roughly a dozen gay men's resorts, each modestly sized and with different vibes and price points. The city really is a queer nirvana, with its incredible diversity of mid-century modern architecture, endless shopping, restaurants and galleries and a bevy of popular nightspots.
The Santiago Resort, less than a mile south of the city center, is a blissful getaway with unbelievable views of the mountains. Although located in a neighborhood, the resort's all-encompassing two-story hedges afford a sense of privacy and exclusivity. We almost felt like movie stars ourselves while lounging at the pool at this clothing-optional gay men's resort. Rooms are well-appointed and tasteful, and the food is superb, as well. A basket of free snacks is provided in each room, and a 24-hour cantina offers free beverages-from soft drinks to bottled water to a fancy coffee machine.
Breakfast here is a higher-end continental style, with plenty of offerings, from sinful to healthy. Both it and lunch are included; simply text your order (which comes from a local sandwich shop) to the front desk, and it magically appears at the appointed time. We enjoyed everything we tried here. The vibe at Santiago isn't sexually charged like at some resorts we've been to in other cities; instead, it's relaxed, fun and luxe.
One of the newer lodging options is the Margaritaville Resort Palm Springs, which is built around two extensive, resort-style pools, which were always humming with activity. Although this may sound like an adult-focused party property, we found plenty of families here, too. Most of the kids seemed to congregate at the smaller of the two pool decks, but both were a constant source of fun.
Our suite at Margaritaville was incredibly spacious and featured a clean, bright beachy vibe with some fun pops of color. The St. Somewhere Spa and connected Fins Up! Fitness Center were first class and include everything you need to get sweaty-or relax and indulge.
Speaking of indulging, we also sampled the comfortable and stylish INNdulge, another gay men's resort, located in the Warm Springs part of town. INNdulge features a fun mid-century modern aesthetic, and the rooms include a nice kitchenette, helpful for longer stays. Our room had a great color palette and was spacious, with a large bathroom.
Breakfast is included here, and the large courtyard features sculptures and a sizable pool and hot tub. During our stay, a visiting group occasionally conducted naked yoga sessions in the courtyard, which made our poolside relaxing a unique experience, but one we didn't mind! Downtown restaurants are a very short drive away, or even walkable during the more moderate temperature seasons.
Palm Springs and the surrounding areas have a breathtaking variety of hiking and outdoor activities to partake in. We climbed the South Lykken Trailhead to the Simonetta Kennett vista point, which afforded a panoramic view of much of the city. We also drove to nearby Joshua Tree National Park, which has unbelievable rock formations and the fascinating namesake succulents.
Another particularly memorable experience was the Palm Canyon trail within the Indian Canyons land; admission to the whole area is $9 per person, and well worth it. Hiking through the lush palm-dotted canyon floor was magical and made me realize this was a real-life oasis. You can hike back a longer-and tougher-and hotter-parallel trail higher up the canyon to appreciate the oasis from above.
Lastly, don't miss the famous Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which ascends to 8,500 feet up San Jacinto Peak. There are numerous trails at the top, where the temperature is noticeably cooler than on the valley floor. There are breathtaking views at nearly every turn, and a restaurant at the mountaintop station allows you to sit for a while and just take it all in.
More To See and Do
We did some pampering, too, while in town. Palm Springs Fine Men's Salon, right near downtown, is a fantastic facility that offers everything from hair styling to coloring services, skin treatments, massages and more. We opted for a couples' mani/pedi and were greeted with champagne upon arrival. The 90 minutes of relaxation flew by as we melted into our massage chairs, and we left feeling confident that we'd look the part of movie stars the next morning at the pool.
Given the history here, you can do some fun self-guided driving tours; pick up a map at the visitor's center (which used to be the coolest gas station ever). We loved the tour of former celebrity homes and another of the city's architectural treasures, of which there are many. Even wandering through the Uptown Design District can pass an entire afternoon, with so many wonderful and unique shops.
Palm Springs is a huge foodie town, too, and there's just too much to even mention here. But suffice it to say that you can't go wrong at places like Kaiser Grille, Zin American Bistro, Eight4Nine, Trio, Grand Central, LuLu California Bistro, Las Casuelas Terraza, Tommy Bahama's Marlin Bar, MidMod Café or Roly China Fusion. More to come on this in a future article!
There's a whole collection of LGBTQ bars and shops along a block of E. Arenas Road near the center of downtown-increasingly a rarity these days-and the district is usually hopping on evenings. COVID still has forced restrictions on seating arrangements, but hopefully that will change soon. The Gay Mart and Bear Wear shops were fun to stroll through, and there's a club for almost any demographic or vibe.
All in all, I can't believe it took us this long to discover Palm Springs-and we're already planning our return to this queer paradise.
Paul J. Heney is a lifelong writer and avid world traveler. He's served as Editorial Director for several hospitality...
the latest travel news, advice, updates, upcoming exclusive deals and more.
CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC
Saudi Arabia Packing List: What to Wear When Visiting
DEI Advisors Interviews Bob Sullivan, Chief Commercial Officer / President for Northstar Travel Group