Palm Springs: A Winter Getaway Like None Other

by Matthew Wexler

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday January 27, 2021

Palm Springs: A Winter Getaway Like None Other

We see it. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. And we're charging ahead toward a year that includes responsible travel and a slow return to socializing. So what are our tops picks for the best LGBTQ travel in 2021? We want warm-weather destinations that offer plenty of outdoor activities and dining — and lots of sunshine to warm our spirits for the better days ahead. Palm Springs delivers all that and more and has been an LGBTQ oasis for decades.

Here's a look at why Palm Springs is on the top of our destination list for the coming year and what makes the desert dream the ideal getaway.

Getting to Palm Springs Becomes Easier Than Ever

It wasn't too long ago that, despite its international appeal, getting to Palm Springs required off-peak travel times and airport transfers. No more! The newly renovated Palm Springs International Airport is located just minutes from downtown. Eight different carriers have added or increased their direct flights to Palm Springs.

In total, 11 airlines serve the Palm Springs International Airport with non-stop flights to more than 20 destinations, which include major hubs offering travel possibilities to over 500 cities worldwide. New direct routes mean less travel time without transfers and extensive airport safety protocols upon arrival. Denver, Phoenix and Philadelphia join the ranks of direct flights from major hubs including San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, New York City, Atlanta, Boston, Minneapolis and Houston. Smaller markets are also making a big impact, with new direct routes including San Jose, Oakland and Eugene, Oregon.

Mod Mansions
Mod Mansions  

Be the Star of Your Own Palm Springs Adventure
From beautifully landscaped resorts with dramatic mountains as your backdrop to cozy boutique hotels where you can curl up with a book and an afternoon cocktail, Palm Springs offers accommodations for every style and budget.

We're incredibly excited, though, about the unique rental properties in Palm Springs that will immerse you in the region's legendary architectural and design history. There is nothing more uniquely Palm Spring than its abundance of mid-century modern architecture. Sure, you can take a tour, but why not stay in one of these stunning properties instead?

Palm Springs Luxury Vacation Homes — If you're traveling with a bubble of loved ones and close friends, these epic homes offer the ultimate retreat. Their curated collection of mid-century and modern homes are within close distance of Palm Canyon Drive, where you'll find plenty of restaurants and retail options. Of course, with all of the gorgeous house perks, you may never want to leave.

ModMansions — To really feel like you're staying in a home and not a rental property, look no further than the properties by ModMansions. From a songwriter's sanctuary to a Spanish estate with rich woods and Spanish accents, each property tells a story of Palm Springs' design legacy.

The Twist Palm Springs — For the best of both worlds, consider The Twist, a modern luxury resort with fully furnished apartments and kitchens and breathtaking views of Mt. San Jacinto. Insider Tip: Our favorite suite is #219 with its massive wrap-around deck and mountain views.

Poolside cabanas at Tortuga del Sol
Poolside cabanas at Tortuga del Sol  

Grown-Up Fun
For those that want to shed their inhibitions (and their clothes), Palm Springs boasts a broad range of gay resorts and clothing-optional hotspots. The inclusive environments welcome everyone, whether you choose to bare all or just enjoy the view. There are a dozen gay resorts in Palm Spring — here are two to consider, but no matter which one you choose, you're bound to have a memorable time:

Vista Grande — Celebrating 27 years as a gay mainstay, Vista Grande was Palm Spring's first clothing-optional motel. Over the years, it's built a dedicated clientele who return year after year to experience "gay paradise." Two pools, lush gardens and luxurious villas continue to beckon visitors.

Tortuga Del Sol — We love the Spanish details and bougainvillea gardens, but what piques our interest are the poolside cabanas to enjoy all the fun and sun that Palm Springs has to offer.

Al fresco dining at Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge.
Al fresco dining at Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge.  

From Dawn 'Til Dusk
Sometimes it's more relaxing when someone else takes charge of the planning, so we've curated a full day's worth of activities to make the most of your next Palm Springs vacation. Pick one or schedule them all — you'll be sure to leave this desert dream with memories to last a lifetime.

Morning Hike at Indian Canyons — Set the alarm and get an early start to your day with a walk among these ancient tribal lands, the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Murray Canyon is great for beginners, while those who want to feel the burn can take on the 15-mile Palm Canyon trail.

After all those calories burned, settle in for al fresco lunch at these popular spots.

Dean Lavine's BlackBook offers plenty of outdoor seating and is at the epicenter of the Arenas District, Palm Springs' LGBTQ hot spot. Lavine has spearheaded efforts to unite queer-owned businesses to create a sense of community and inclusive diversity.

Other LGBTQ-owned restaurants around town with outdoor seating include Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge (we love the carne asada tacos); Tropicale (we can't resist their signature coconut martini); and Trio, where elevated comfort foods like cola-braised short ribs and baby back ribs reign supreme.

Evening Stargazing
The sun sets early in Palm Springs in the winter, all the more reason to take advantage of the starry night with an expert astronomer on hand. uses some of the largest state-of-the-art portable telescopes available, and the observation site in Sky Valley (adjacent to Joshua Tree, an International Dark Sky Park) ensures that you'll be able to view all the wonders of the universe.

Roly China Fusion Drag Queen Delivery — From stars to sequins, you'll love this unique offering from Roly China Fusion. If you can't see a drag show, have it delivered! Another innovative solution during the pandemic, Roly China Fusion's roster of talented drag artists are at the ready to come to your door, food and fabulousness in hand. Choose a 30-minute drag show (along with dinner, of course!) or opt for a three-number performance (weekends only) to whet your appetite for when the shows return later this year.

A nightcap from Paul Bar/Food — New Yorker Paul O'Halloran has been making "best-of" lists all over town and with good reason. The seasoned mixologist serves up classic cocktails, now offered in mason jars for your to-go pleasure. We can't help but play favorites with his Black Manhattan, made with Old Overholt rye, Averna amaro and orange bitters.

Before You Go...
Palm Springs is continually updating its roster of attractions and offerings. Click Here for a current list of what's open.

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.