Palm Springs: Pack a swimsuit — and skis

Palm Springs: Pack a swimsuit — and skis

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The first thing you need to know about Palm Springs is that it’s perpetually warm and sunny. The second thing you need to know is that the city of 50,000 is an estimated 40-percent gay. Have you booked your flight yet?

If you need more coaxing, how’s this: The city hosts two back-to-back events for the LGBT community, The Dinah (March 30-April 3) for women and The White Party (April 8-11) for men, each of which draws some 10,000 people.

The city itself has 28 private LGBT resort properties, including two for lesbians, and a slew of LGBT-welcoming hotels — all with a view of the surrounding mountains. For the men, most of the resorts are clothing-optional; a few are clothes-required, and therefore welcoming to women travelers.

Most of the resorts range between 15-30 rooms and often have a bed-and-breakfast feel, with the proprietor hosting a “backyard” party — if your backyard had a pool and a view of the mountains. The majority also offer some sort of spa services, from massages to the famed “Taking of the Waters” at Spa Resort Casino.

The men’s resorts vary in atmosphere — from casual to hardcore (All Worlds), from private secluded rooms (Escape Palm Springs) to shared space (The View), from backyard BBQ (Triangle Inn) to pool party (INNdulge) to quiet respite (East Canyon), so take some time to review their websites to check out the amenities. Many have sex high on the to-do list, so be prepared for all types of entertainment — or if you’d rather steer clear.

For women, Queen of Hearts (www.queenofheartsps.com) and Casitas Laquita (www.casitaslaquita.com) offer community and respite or a little more action, respectively.

If you are looking for something hip and gay-friendly, try the laidback Ace Hotel (www.acehotel.com). It’s got a pool, 24-hour gym, outdoor fireplaces, free bikes and a dog park. (And lots of LGBT folks on the premises.)

If you decide to venture out of resort for entertainment — some travelers don’t — Palm Springs has plenty to do: There’s golf, shopping (independent shops along Palm Canyon Drive or Desert Hills Premium Outlets), hiking (Indian Canyon, Joshua Tree) or you can take the Palm Springs Aerial Tram to the Mt. San Jacinto State Park (www.pstramway.com), where there’s snow in the winter. Skiing is close by too: You can be at the pool in the morning, ski in the afternoon, and back by the pool for dinner. If you want to try something different, Palm Springs Modern Tours offers small-group tours of the area’s mid-century modern architecture, led by Robert Imber (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). He’ll tell you about prominent architects in the area and take you to houses owned by Liberace, Dinah Shore, Bob Hope, Elvis Presley, Zsa Zsa Gabor and lots more.

Because Palm Springs is a resort town, the nightlife can be hit or miss. Friday nights at Wang’s in the Desert draws hundreds of men just getting in to town for the weekend; Hunter’s and Toucan’s Tiki Lounge offer late-night dance-club options. For something a little arty, visit the Palm Springs Villagefest, held every Thursday on Palm Canyon Drive.

At some point, be sure to take time to sample Palm Springs dining, which ranges from casual to fine. Casual options include Jake’s and Bongo Johnny’s; don’t miss Trio for dinner.

For more information on Palm Springs, visit www.visitpalmsprings.com; click on LGBT for gay-friendly travel options.


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