What You Should Know About Palm Springs
What gay travelers need to know before visiting Palm Springs, CA.
Palm Springs, CA, is not only a popular gay travel destination, but the resort town is also close to Mount San Jacinto State Park and just a 1-hour drive from Joshua Tree National Park, making it a prime spot for a weekend getaway.
Clothing-optional resorts are quite popular in Palm Springs, but if that’s not suitable for you, keep your clothes on at boutique hotels such as The Saguaro, Ace Hotel or East Canyon Hotel and Spa.
Quick Tips: Several hotels and resorts in Palm Springs offer offseason rates — some as low as $100 per night. Rates during the holidays can be pricey, so avoid making reservations around Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Mount San Jacinto State Park
Quick Tips: Dress warmly and go early; otherwise, expect to wait an hour or more for the tram. Grab a bite to eat or warm up with a cocktail or cocoa at the Pines Café, located on the third floor of the Mountain Station. Food and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are also served at the Valley Station’s Cascade Café.
Sherman's Deli & Bakery
Sherman’s award-winning chefs, Gordon Poster and Wayne Brooks, have served up delicious food for presidents, movie stars and other notable dignitaries, including former President Gerald Ford, former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, Clint Eastwood, Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra.
Quick Tips: Plan ahead, be patient, and expect to wait for a table or your takeout order. The food is well worth it. Save room for dessert. You cannot leave Sherman’s without sampling at least one of more than 30 different 3-layer cakes, pies and pastries.
Joshua Tree National Park
In addition to Keys View, don’t miss out on visiting Barker Dam, Skull Rock and Hidden Valley and watching experienced climbers scale the side of Intersection Rock. Pitch a tent in any of 9 different campgrounds in the park, if you’re feeling really adventurous.
Quick Tips: Bathrooms are located throughout the park. As for food and water, that’s a different story. Pack plenty before entering. A small café next to the Joshua Tree Visitors Center, located on Park Boulevard, sells a reasonably priced brown-bag lunch if you forget to plan ahead.
Downtown Palm Springs
The first star was awarded on Feb. 26, 1992, and since then, dozens of “stars” — authors, actors, humanitarians, sports legends and military heroes — have been given this prestigious honor. Notable recipients have included President Ronald Reagan, James Earl Jones, Harpo Marx, Elvis Presley, Lena Horne, Kathy Griffin and, yes, even reality TV star Lisa Vanderpump.
Quick Tips: Go bike riding on well-marked paths through the city’s historic neighborhoods. And don’t miss the Palm Springs VillageFest every Thursday night for local crafts, arts and entertainment. On Saturdays, the seasonal farmers market at the Palm Springs Cultural Center is also a popular shopping spot for locals and tourists.
Lulu California Bistro
Some of my favorites include the turkey burger with a mixed field greens salad for lunch; the 10-ounce filet mignon with mashed redskin potatoes and fresh veggies; and the sauteed fresh tilapia with tropical mango sauce, rice pilaf and veggies.
Quick Tips: Looking for a good deal? Try the 3-course Sunday brunch or 3-course feast, which includes an appetizer, entree and dessert for $19.99. And don’t miss out on what Lulu calls “the desert’s best happy hour” from 11 a.m. to closing. The happy hour menu is reasonably priced with apps, desserts, cocktails, wine and beer ranging from $3 to $15.
Some bars do have a diverse mix of people, including the intergenerational crowd of gay men at Toucans Tiki Lounge. A favorite for locals and visitors alike is Hunters Palm Springs. This fun, 16-year-old venue has 2 bars, dartboards, pool tables, an adjoining dance floor and an outdoor patio. Named “Best in the Valley” dance spot in 2011 by Desert Magazine, Hunters attracts both gay and straight patrons. Add it to your list of things to do if you enjoy dancing into the wee hours of the morning.
Quick Tips: Mix and mingle with the locals and out-of-towners at Wang's in the Desert every Friday for happy hour. Located near the corner of South Indian Canyon Drive and Saturnino Road, Wang’s draws a large, fun crowd for its weekly happy hour. Its family-style dinner service is perfect, especially if you’re attending with a group or just want to share with your new friends.
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