After nearly a half-hour uphill hike in 90+ degree weather along a mountain stream, I came to the reward that made the trek worth it. A stunning waterfall oasis with a cool mist spray and a cooler wading pool.
The hike wasn’t in a tropical rainforest in Hawaii but the desert in Palm Springs, California. The waterfall was the end of the main trail in Tahquitz Canyon. The rain and mountain snow over the winter has translated into spectacular streams and waterfalls as the very deep mountain snow gradually melts. This spring has been unusually cool in Palm Springs and that has slowed the snow melt, which could keep the waterfalls flowing until Labor Day.
If you can getaway to Palm Springs in the summer, traditionally the slowest time of year for tourism, you will be greeted by bargain hotel rates and no crowds at the most popular attractions and restaurants in the city.
Another cool Palm Springs summer attraction is the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. In just ten minutes, it takes riders to the summit of Mount San Jacinto. You can enjoy a hike in the mountains, which is about 30 degrees cooler than it would be in the city.
One of the best ways to see some of the desert’s best natural attractions is through Desert Adventure Red Jeep Tours. The company offers tours through the Indian Canyons as well as tours through a desert oasis that the company owns and makes available for use for special events.
LGBTQ+ Palm Springs
Palm Springs has a dozen gay resorts, more than any other place on the planet. All are marketed toward gay men and all are clothing-optional, with 24-hour pool and hot tub access, so you can take advantage of a warm night time swim without having to worry about sunburn. Most have free continental breakfasts, all have free parking and some even throw in a free lunch. Most of the gay resorts still don’t charge a resort fee, but some of the newer resorts do. The resorts also have misters, that make sunbathing bearable even in triple digit temperatures.
The newest of the gay resorts, Twin Palms Resort, opened in November and is a modern, stunning luxury resort. The resort includes an expanded continental breakfast and a free lunch. It also has bicycles free for guests and has a free wine happy hour. A 24-hour canteen offers free drinks and snacks. Luxury comes at a discount this summer with rates starting at $195 plus a $16 daily resort fee.
The Twin Palms’ sister properties, Descanso and Santiago, are also known for a similar high level of service and luxury. They also provide a free breakfast and lunch and a 24-hour canteen with free snacks and soft drinks. Descanso is centrally located just north of downtown and Santiago is just south of downtown with a huge pool and hot tub.
The Triangle Inn is on the same block as Santiago and deservedly has a very loyal following. Michael Green and his husband Stephen Boyd are known for their work in the LGBTQ community. Green is the Executive Director of the Palm Springs Cultural Association which runs Palm Springs LGBTQ film festival, Cinema Diverse.
The Canyon Club Hotel is the only gay resort in downtown Palm Springs and has the cheapest rates starting in the summer at $119. It’s not a luxury property, but it has a huge backyard with a koi pond and a hedge maze. It is open for day passes on Wednesdays and Sundays for $15.
The biggest concentration of gay resorts is in the Warm Sands neighborhood about a half mile east of downtown. El Mirasol Villas is an historic property built by Howard Hughes in 1947. It was eventually turned into a hotel and was owned by Bob Hope in the early 1960s. It opened as a gay resort in 1975 and is the oldest gay resort in the city. The hotel offers a bargain rate of $139 over the summer.
Vista Grande is a fabulous gay resort that includes three pools, two hot tubs, and a steam room. They also throw in a free breakfast and lunch.
InnDulge is just across the street from Hacienda and deservedly stays busy even during the slower summer months. They have a great happy hour with free drinks and snacks every early evening. Co-owner Sandy Miller is the perfect host. He seems to remember everyone’s name and makes everyone feel at home.
The Cathedral City Boys Club, better known as CCBC, is the only of the gay resorts in Cathedral City, the city just south of Palm Springs. The expansive property, 3.5 acres, hosts a number of special events and is open all the time for day passes.
Though not a gay resort, the Trixie Motel has a big gay following with its kitschy pink and white motif. It is named for drag performer Trixie Mattel who owns the property with her partner David Silver. If you want to stay there, be sure to make your reservation far in advance. The resort was made famous by the reality series “Trixie Motel.”
All of Palm Springs gay resorts offer discounted rates over the summer. The city has established an app called Palm Springs Summer Splash. Click here to sign up for the free apps to get the summer deals.
Palm Springs’ newest spa, The Spa at Séc-he, opened in April in downtown Palm Springs and is one of the most modern, upscale spas in the country. You can bathe there in the hot springs waters for which Palm Springs is named. Those waters are considered sacred by the Agua Caliente tribe which owns the property. Normally to use the spa on a day pass will set you back $145 but over the summer you can get a pass Mon-Thurs for $99. Be sure to check out the therapeutic chairs. You can listen to soothing sounds as you adjust the chair to raise your feet over your heart to get the maximum benefit. If you order a massage or other extra spa service, you can use the spa for free.
Most of Palm Springs nightlife is centered in the Arenas District, in downtown Palm Springs, on E. Arenas Rd. just east of Indian Canyon Drive. That is where you will find the popular Hunters, Chill, Quadz Palm Springs, Dicks on Arenas, BlackBook and StreetBar.
The speakeasy bar in town is The Evening Citizen. Its entrance is hidden on the backside of the building where Stacey’s used to be. Reservations are suggested. The BlackBook owners own this cool bar which evokes a prohibition era underground haunt. BlackBook set a high bar in the Arenas DIstrict and The Evening CItizen has kept up that standard.
Reforma is a huge gay-friendly restaurant and nightclub in the heart of downtown Palm Springs. you will often see a line wrapped around the block on the weekend. The restaurant has an intimate feel and serves up to-notch gourmet grub in a dark and dramatic intimate setting.
The LGBTQ owned Eight4Nine restaurant in the trendy Uptown Design District features a mid century style lounge and outdoor patio with a unique selection of cocktails, wines, and appetizing eats.
The V Wine Lounge & Martini Bar, also LGBTQ owned, features great food and live entertainment where patrons are encouraged to get up and dance along.
Another great casual eatery in downtown is Clandestino featuring fresh fare with a constant emphasis on local and organic ingredients. Be sure to check out its flight of four margarita tastings.
Lulu California Bistro is a landmark in downtown Palm Springs with its huge, climate-controlled patio and indoor mezzanine seating. Its award-winning weekend brunch is a must and its daily dining deservedly attracts a crowd even during the slower summer months.
The gay-owned Peepa’s features vintage and modern clothes and the owner supports other LGBTQ and businesses owned by women and people of color.
As far too many bookstores are closing, the newly opened Best Bookstore in Palm Springs will hopefully become a Palm Springs mainstay.
In the Arenas Road district, be sure to check out Division Menswear and GayMart, and Bear Wear. Gear Leather and Fetish and Q Trading Company are popular LGBTQ-themed shops just steps from the Tool Shed on Sunny Dunes Road.
On the northside of downtown, don’t pass up the gay local artist's shop, Trevor Wayne Pop Art and its neighbor El Tuggle, selling its own brand of trendy men and women’s clothing. And don't miss Destination PSP with its unique upscale Palm Springs clothing and souvenirs. It's owned by Palm Springs Pro Tem and City Councilman Jeffrey Bernstein.
For more information: Visit Palm Springs.