Greater “Gay” Palm Springs: Getting Here and Having Fun
Planning a visit to Greater Palm Springs? You’ve made the right choice. There’s a reason it’s considered one of the world’s most LGBTQ-friendly cities. People from all walks of life feel completely at home in the desert oasis. Here are some tips which should make your vacation as effortless as possible.
How to Get Here
There are at least four airports within driving distance to the area.
From LAX Los Angeles: The distance from LAX to Palm Springs is roughly 123 miles. Note that it depends on the time of day you leave Los Angeles to estimate an accurate driving time. If you start your journey on a Friday afternoon, you might need to add a couple of hours to reach your destination due to traffic. Some use Uber/Lyft from LAX while there’s also the FlixBus that requires a little navigation to get to UCLA or its downtown departure point at Union Station.
From ONT Ontario: A driving time of approximately an hour and 15 minutes will get you to Palm Springs from Ontario airport. Rental car or Uber/Lyft are your options (or a private car).
From SDO San Diego: It’s just over 140 miles to drive from San Diego, perhaps California’s most chill major city, to Palm Springs.
PSP Palm Springs: If you fly directly into the local airport, you’ll likely be able to collect your luggage, rent a car and get to your destination within 30 minutes.
BUS: Among the other options to travel to Palm Springs is the FlixBus, which starts at a modest $10 fee from Downtown Los Angeles. The bus, which also departs from Burbank and Long Beach, drops passengers off at various locations around Palm Springs.
Getting Around Greater Palm Springs
Both major rideshare companies – Lyft and Uber – service the entire Coachella Valley, and all the major car rental agencies are available at the Palm Springs airport and offsite at a number of locations. Yet, once you get settled into your vacation abode, be sure to check out the schedule for the Buzz Bus, which runs every 20 minutes between 12 noon and 10 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. The service is free and will stop at many of the major points of interest throughout the city.
Where does one begin? Palm Springs might be the most LGBTQ-friendly city in the United States. You could live here full-time for a year or more and not get around to visiting all the notable sights.
Need a drink or an opportunity to flirt in person? Arenas Road is without a doubt the best starting point, as it boasts bars and eateries that cater to every desire (from show tune queens to Levi-and-leather-clad hotties). (Currently most bars are closed due to COVD-19.)
Perhaps the biggest draw for gay and bisexual men is the abundance of lodgings that allow guests to sunbathe, swim, and frolic in your birthday suit. There are at least 15 men’s resorts, most are in the Warm Sands neighborhood, that allow this (and other) activities in their public spaces. With jacuzzies and saunas, there’s so much fun to be had, you might never leave the property.
Places of Interest:
Who doesn’t enjoy a world-class shopping excursion? At Cabazon (about 20 minutes west of Palm Springs), style-conscious bargain-hunters can choose from hundreds of recognized retailers which range from luxurious leather accessories at Coach to swanky couture at Sak’s Fifth Avenue.
The city offers an array of trails that allow visitors to view the selfie-ready spectacular mountain ranges up close, along with plenty of man- and woman-candy. Ranger-guided hikes, which offer detailed information about the Native Americans who settled in the area, are available for a small fee.
Just over 45 minutes from Palm Springs, this mountainous destination, filled with fascinating animals and plants, will provide the most surreal outdoors experience you can imagine. Joshua Tree National Park draws over a million visitors each year, and there are plenty of wide open spaces to explore in the Yucca Valley/29 Palms/Joshua Tree area.
You can see some extraordinary works of regional art displayed in the museum, conveniently located in the heart of downtown Palm Springs. There are many queer artists represented here and a recent exhibition showcased rarely seen portraits associated with the pioneering Stonewall riots. Don’t miss the very impressive Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden, and you’ll enjoy many major performing artists in the museum’s Annenberg Theater.
Spend a romantic evening under the stars at the sexiest venue in Rancho Mirage. The observatory is open during the day as well with programs and tours.
LGBTQ-Friendly Events in Palm Springs
This is certainly the world’s premiere music festival. Held over two weekends, this concert of concerts has lured the most iconic artists in the business, including Beyonce and Madonna. Plan to stay the entire weekend and books your room a year in advance. Bring your Babywipes, because your gonna get covered in dirt.
Held each Springs at the Palm Springs Hilton, this celebration is the world’s most prominent all-female weekend (although men are invited to some of the events). It lets ladies swim at exclusive pool parties, enjoy top-notch celebrity entertainment, dance to music from the hottest DJs, and basically have the time of their lives in the desert sun.
This day allows LGBTQ people, as well as progressive heteros, to dress in the most enticing, lude, and provocative costumes one can imagine. You’d better be ready to bring your A-game. Palm Springs gays are creative. Plus, there are DJ’s performing on both ends of Arenas so get ready to dance, bitches.
Cubs, and otters, and bears, oh my! Get ready to frolic and enjoy fur at the ultimate hairy weekend. Revel in pool parties while listening to vibes created by world-class DJs and performances by popular dance artists such as Kristine W. IBC happens each February.
Palm Springs is famed for its gorgeous midcentury architecture, which has long drawn many LGBTQ folks to the desert. Modernism Week, held annually in February (there’s also a preview week each October) offers a glimpse at the chic homes of the well-heeled set (including queer celebs like Liberace and Barry Manilow), along with classic car shows and panels that discuss the important architects of the period.
Held each November, Greater Palm Springs Pride is one of the few that takes place in late fall, which is due to the desert’s more moderate temperature at this time of year. The festival is no less lively, as it features an all-inclusive parade and a weekend jammed with concerts from an array of favorite entertainers.