Palm Springs is best known as the “playground of the stars,” a reputation earned during Hollywood’s Golden Age when the friendly desert oasis was close enough to attract the silver screen’s A-list. With an average of 332 days of annual sunshine and 360-degree mountain views, it’s easy to understand the appeal.
In recent years, Palm Springs has become, per capita, one of the gayest cities on earth, constituting an estimated 40-60% of the local population. The current Mayor, Robert Moon, is gay, as were the two previous mayors, along with most members of city council.
The quiet, relaxing ambiance of Palm Springs is best described as “resort casual.” This laid-back character compliments its many charming shops and unique specialty stores, especially in the Uptown Arts and Antique District. If you’re looking for a big-city atmosphere with a booming club scene, look elsewhere. While there is a thriving nightlife, the city’s main appeal is sunshine, swimming pools, world-class golf courses and tennis courts, great restaurants and awe-inspiring mountain vistas.
Food in the nude?
The “playground of the stars” offers numerous gayowned or gay-friendly businesses including pampering spas (e.g. – Ace Hotel & Swim Club) and first-class hotels (e.g. – East Canyon Hotel & Spa), as well as clothing-optional resorts and guest houses that cater to male clientele (e.g. – Hacienda Warm Sands). When it comes to food, our favorite restaurant is The King’s Highway. Located at Ace Hotel, this retro-chic renovated-to-distress restaurant was formerly a Denny’s and serves redefined roadside dinner fare, Tex-Mex breakfasts, tequila-cured lox and has a life-saving “reviving” coffeehouse. From there, stroll to the Amigo Room (also in the Ace Hotel) where you can order artisanal cocktails and craft beers in a cool, cavernous space.
This desert oasis has an exciting lineup of LGBTQ events throughout the year including the International Film Festival (Jan. 2-15, 2018), Cinema Diverse (the gay and lesbian film festival, Sept. 21-24, 2017), the Dinah Shore Weekend (the most popular gathering of lesbians in the world, 2018 spring dates TBD) and, of course, the infamous White Party (a gay men’s circuit party, 2018 spring dates TBD). The city’s annual Gay Pride Festival (Nov. 4-5, 2017) includes a fabulous parade followed by live entertainment, food and dancing, which continues long into the evening and especially at Arenas Street’s many gay bars. At Halloween, Arenas Street is converted into a huge gay block party, complete with a costume contest! Every Thursday night Palm Springs’ main street, Palm Canyon Drive, is closed to traffic and opened for an extensive street festival featuring food vendors, local artists and live entertainment.
Pack your sunscreen and head to the desert. Palm Springs— the gay oasis—is waiting.
Liberace had an 8,000 square-foot mansion in Palm Springs called Casa de la Cloisters. This was the favorite of his seven luxurious homes and where he spent his final days in 1987.
Iconic Hollywood movie stars like Rock Hudson, Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford flocked to Palm Springs from Los Angeles to escape prying eyes and “carry on” without fear of being outed.