Bear GuideTravel

LGBTQ Travel Guide for Palm Springs

Palm Springs is one of the most LGBTQ+-friendly travel destinations in the world, and it is home to a thriving Queer community that shapes the direction of the city!

Here, you can let your hair down and be yourself under the desert sun. With the weather, architecture, gay-owned and operated businesses, nightlife, and more – Palm Springs is the hip oasis for the LGBTQ+ traveler. 

Where to Stay

If you’re planning a trip to Palm Springs, you should know that it is a welcoming city and safe travel destination for everyone in our community; however, there is a noticeable residential population and regular visitors that skews toward the older gale male. 

And that’s why visitors will find quite at least 10 clothing-optional resorts where they can disrobe in a body-positive and relaxing atmosphere at these gay hotels, resorts, and inns. All Worlds Resort, Canyon Club Hotel, Desert Paradise Resort Hotel, El Mirasol Villas, INNdulge, Santiago Resort, The Hacienda at Warm Sands, Triangle Inn, and Vista Grande Resort are all options for travelers who enjoy spending a getaway au naturel.  

For travelers who prefer to keep their clothes on, you may want to consider staying at a larger hotel or resort, such as the colorful Saguaro, Hotel Zoso, and of course, name brand accommodations like the Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel, Hilton, and Kimpton Rowan. All of these resorts and hotels make are the perfect home base for you to explore the city and venture further afield. 

Things to Do

There’s a myriad of fun activities to do for restless travelers who enjoy being on an active vacation. Of course, you can’t miss out on visiting local sights such as the Palm Springs Art Museum, the Museum of Ancient Wonders (MoAW), and Cabot’s Old Indian Museum. Catch a show at the Palm Canyon Theater or pose for an Instagram-worthy selfie in front of the 26-foot-tall Forever Marilyn sculpture created by Seward Johnson. 

Every Thursday, you can join thousands of locals and visitors for VillageFest, a weekly event where a diverse array of artists, artisans, entertainers, and vendors, selling fresh fruits, veggies, flowers, jewelry, snacks, and sweets converge on Palm Canyon Drive.

Feeling adventurous? Take a Desert Adventures Red Jeep Tours, which offers a variety of outdoor experiences, including a San Andreas Fault “Gem Canyon” Hiking Tour or the Indian Canyons “Ancient Footprints” Walking Tour. Two experiences that outdoor enthusiasts should add to their must-do list are the aerial tram ride up Mount San Jacinto, for the panoramic city views, and a day trip to nearby Joshua Tree National Park. And there’s no shortage of tours, including a seven-stop culinary tour and nothing is more perfect than a storytelling and stargazing tour.  

For Queer travelers who enjoy shopping, you head to the Arenas District for a fun shopping spree at LGBTQ+-owned shops, such as Bear Wear Etc., Gay Mart, Gear Leather, and Q Trading. Check out the drag scene featuring cabaret legends, karaoke queens, and bitchy brunch hostesses at local venues like PS Air Bar. Prepare to be entertained! See The Judy Show at the Purple Room, the female impersonators at Oscar’s Café & Bar’s Sunday tea dance, the weekly drag shows at Toucans Tiki Lounge, and drag brunch at Roly China Fusion, just to name a few hot spots. 

Of course, the nightlife here ranges from tiki drag queen shows to denim decadence to sing-along Broadway show tunes to leather-clad lotharios. There’s a little bit of something for everyone at popular venues. Head to the Tool Shed or Eagle 501 if the leather and Levi scene is your thing. After a glass of liquid courage, belt out your favorite show tune at Quadz, or go dancing or just watch the go-go boys dance for you at Hunters. You have more than a half dozen clubs and bars as options, so you can spread the fun out throughout your stay! 

We’d be remiss if we didn’t let you know that PS also plays host to several queer-friendly events, such as International Bear Convergence (February), Cinema Diverse (September), Leather Pride (October), and Greater Palm Springs Pride (November). For the lesbians and queer women, you may want to consider visiting PS in September and October for The Dinah, a five-day weekend and music festival that’s touted as the largest lesbian event in the world.  

Where to Eat

You’re sure to find a variety of good restaurants to whet your palate. Husbands, chef Chad Gardner and artist Roly Paz, already have 533 Viet Fusion, but they also have Roly China Fusion that serves up kung pao chicken, lobster dumplings in truffle butter, ginger-spiked pork-and-shrimp shu mei, and other house-made dim sum delights. 

For lunch, you can head to the full-service OG kosher Sherman’s Deli and Bakery for traditional favorites like a thick-cut pastrami sandwich and matzo ball soup. Stop by the pet-friendly Boozehounds Palm Springs that has Asian-influenced features like the Tasmanian ocean trout and Japanese yellowtail with charred tangelo, and there’s also a dog menu! 

Enjoy open-air seating and DJ on weekends at chef-owner Engin Onural’s Sandfish, which serves carefully crafted hand-stamped boxes of super-fresh sushi nigiri, sashimi, and maki rolls. 

Cheeky’s is the breakfast and brunch spot, offering patrons fresh pastries and creative twists on the usual suspects, such as French toast with rhubarb-strawberry sauce, sweet cream cheese, and candied almonds or breakfast risotto with English peas, pancetta, parmesan, and poached eggs.

If you’re looking for healthy dining options, you should consider local favorites such as Chef Tanya’s Kitchen, Nature’s Health Food & Café, the family-owned juice bar Fruit Wonders Palm Springs, and the MidMod Café. And there are more than 30 options in town for vegetarians and/or vegans. 

Check out the Visit Palm Springs website and the special LGBTQ+ section of the site for more inspiration on how to plan the perfect queer-friendly getaway. 

Source: Visit Palm Springs

This article was originally published on our sister site, Vacationer Magazine.

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