Palm Springs — An LGBTQ-Friendly Oasis

by Matthew Wexler

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday April 9, 2021

Palm Springs — An LGBTQ-Friendly Oasis
  (Source:Visit Palm Springs)

Tucked on the Coachella Valley's western edge at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains, Palm Springs has long been a desert oasis for travelers seeking sunshine and serenity. Spring offers an ideal time to experience Palm Springs, whether you're looking for an outdoor adventure or poolside relaxation.

It's no wonder Hollywood stars like Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter escaped the paparazzi to enjoy Palm Springs' near-perfect weather. (350+ days of sunshine per year!) But sunny days and cool nights only scratch the surface of modern-day Palm Springs. Locally-owned restaurants and retailers, first-rate accommodations, a legendary collection of mid-century modern architecture, and a robust and welcoming LGBTQ community make Palm Springs the ideal destination to celebrate our return to travel.

Door to Door: Discovering the Best of Mid-Century Modern

(Source: Visit Palm Springs)

The father and son team at Alexander Construction Company arrived in Palm Springs in 1955, bringing an entirely new architectural vision, now known as mid-century modern. Working with several architects, the firm built more than 2,500 homes (known as Alexander houses), which mostly remain intact.

Whether you choose to stay at a mid-century modern hotel or rental property or take to the streets to explore the Vista Las Palmas neighborhood and the former homes of Marilyn Monroe, Dinah Shore, and current stars like Leonardo DiCaprio), there's something magical in the clean lines and architectural details.

There are plenty of other outdoor activities in Palm Springs to discover, too. Take a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway for a birds-eye view of the valley, plan a hike (know your difficulty level and be sure to bring water), or turn over the transportation to an expert with a Desert Adventures Red Jeep Tour.

A Taste of Palm Springs

1501 Gastropub
1501 Gastropub  

What could be better than dining under the stars? Palm Springs' robust outdoor dining scene has gone next-level with expanded offerings, new openings and grab-and-go options. With dozens of options to pick from, visitors could plan an extended stay and never eat at the same place twice — here's an amuse-bouche to whet your appetite!

1501 Gastropub — Two of Palm Springs' celebrated restaurateurs, Willie Rhine of Eight4Nine Restaurant & Lounge and Chad Gardner of 533 Viet Fusion and Roly China Fusion, have combined forces to open this sharply designed gastropub on N. Palm Canyon Drive. Stand-out dishes include cold-smoked salmon and trout served with grilled baguette, braised Kobe short rib, and innovative vegan options like no-meat shepherd's pie and jackfruit "crabcake."

On the Mark — The well-stocked gourmet food market is the ideal spot to pick up picnic perishables like overstuffed specialty sandwiches, artisan meats and cheeses, and curated wines (all organic, sustainable or biodynamic). Those renting a home will also find one-pot meals and other easy-to-prepare items.

Jake's — Fun riffs on classics such as a wedge salad, General Tso cauliflower and meatloaf with sriracha ketchup comprise this bistro menu, also available to-go, along with a dinner party menu with optional large-format batch cocktails.

Palm Springs LGBTQ Mecca, Arenas Road, Reopens

While all of Palms Springs is LGBTQ-friendly, Arenas Road has emerged as a queer hub for restaurants, nightlife and retailers. More than a dozen LGBTQ-owned businesses can be found all within easy walking distance, here's a shortlist to get you started:

Hunters — Oversized cocktails, friendly bartenders and customers, and a commitment to LGBTQ causes have established Hunters as a Palm Springs mainstay. Enjoy socializing for a leisurely afternoon or return after dusk for dancing, theme nights, drag queens and more.

BlackBook — Casual outdoor dining and drinks and an always-friendly staff make BlackBook one of our favorite Arenas Road hangouts. That and the legendary disco fries, loaded with cheese, bacon, housemade ranch and buffalo sauce.

Rough Trade Gear — Does your fetish gear need a makeover? Rough Trade Gear sources gear and toys, along with Pride tanks and trunks that we're looking forward to wearing soon

There's also Chill Bar, Quadz, Eagle 501, Street Bar, Stacy's, Bear Wear, Gay Mart and more!

No matter your interest, Palm Springs boasts plenty of locally owned small gems. Check out the Backstreet Art District to bring a piece of Palm Springs home.

Where to Stay

(Source: Kim Utley, Santiago Resort)

Where the Boys Stay
Drop your inhibitions (and your swim trunks, if you'd like) at one of a dozen gay clothing-optional resorts in Palm Springs. Each unique in design and aesthetic, what they all have in common is a queer-positive approach toward customer service, welcoming guests to express themselves however they feel comfortable.

Canyon Club Hotel — One of Palm Springs' larger gay men's resorts with 34 rooms and suites, the central 52-foot swimming pool beckons guests for a dip, while the 16-person Jacuzzi will melt away tired muscles from a day of hiking or exploring.

Santiago Resort — Santiago's mid-century desert design entices travelers to stay at the resort and enjoy a complimentary "stay n splash" poolside lunch, Gilchrest & Soames bath products and spectacular mountain views.

Welcoming to All
Holiday House Palm Springs — We're in love with all of the boutique touches that can be found at this historic 1951 property reimagined by interior designer Mark D. Sikes. Original works by David Hockney, Herb Ritts and other famous artists can be discovered throughout. Bring a good book and good company — rooms purposefully omit TVs to encourage guest interaction and quality desert time.

Home Away From Home — For those looking for private accommodations, Palm Springs features plenty of house rentals that showcase their owners' unique style. Discover a mid-century bungalow or perhaps an estate for the weekend, with a private pool, fire pit, entertainment room and other enticing amenities.

Ready to travel? Click Here to start planning!

Matthew Wexler is EDGE's Senior Editor, Features & Branded Content. More of his writing can be found at Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.