Palm Springs prepares for Halloween, Pride :: Bay Area Reporter
Tourism in Palm Springs has rebounded with a vengeance, beating pre-pandemic records for both hotel occupancy and arrivals at Palm Springs International Airport. Tourism officials say that while there are still fewer international visitors, domestic travelers have more than made up the difference.
LGBTQ travelers were among the first to return to the desert city, and they returned early and often. Palm Springs gay resorts often sell out, even on the quieter days of the week. That might sound like a good problem for the resorts, but Michael Green, who co-owns the very popular Triangle Inn with his husband Stephen Boyd, told the Bay Area Reporter he’s confident the unprecedented demand for gay resorts will soon be met with other qualities that are developed.
“Some people have said gay resorts are going away, but the exact opposite has happened,” Green said. The resort’s owner added that he hopes gay travelers won’t get frustrated and stop visiting the city because they can’t find a room in a gay hotel.
The formerly gay resorts Bearfoot Inn and La Dolce Vita were sold and closed late last year, while the downtown Canyon Club Hotel is mired in a legal battle after one of the owners died. Green said he’s confident the Descanso and Santiago owners’ plans to convert Twin Palms Resort into a gay resort would move ahead quickly to meet growing demand. The new Twin Palms is expected to open sometime next month.
Fall is in full swing in Palm Springs. The city hosted lesbian weekend The Dinah and LGBTQ film festival Cinema Diverse last month. Leather Pride in Palm Springs is from 27th to 30th October. That Desert AIDS Walk kicks off gay nightlife in Palm Springs on Saturday, October 29th at 9am from Ruth Hardy Park. Palm Springs Pride takes place November 4-6 and is highlighted by a parade this Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m. on Palm Canyon Drive at Tachevah Drive and ending at the festival’s entrance on Amado Road.
If you want to avoid the crowds, early December before the holidays is a good time to visit. The 30th Annual Palm Springs Festival of Lights will be held on Saturday, December 3 starting at 5:45 p.m. in downtown Palm Springs on Palm Canyon Drive between Ramon and Tachevah. Near Palm Desert, the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens offers its annual spectacular light show Wild Lights from November 23rd to December 30th.
The Greater Palm Springs Area still boasts the gayest resorts out there. All are marketed to gay men and are optional. the newest resort, Descanso, is among the best. It’s north of downtown in the area occupied by the East Canyon Hotel and Spa, which eventually sold and became a mainstream hotel, only to return to its gay roots for its current incarnation. The property’s General Manager, Kent Taylor, has helped restore the luxury of the old East Canyon and take it to an even higher level. Hotel staff pamper guests with a premium continental breakfast, complimentary lunch, and a pantry with complimentary drinks and snacks available throughout the day.
Descanso’s sister hotel, Santiago, located south of downtown, is also known for its high-end amenities, including an expanded continental breakfast and lunch. It’s the only two-story gay resort in the city and has the largest pool and hot tubs of any resort.
The aforementioned Inn Triangle is just a few steps away from the Santiago. Green and Boyd, the longtime owners, live on the property and make guests feel like family. The mid-century modern building is a gem of the neighborhood with a beautiful front yard framing the property.
The largest cluster of gay resorts is in the Warm Sands neighborhood, about half a mile from downtown. The mainstay of Warm Sands InnDulge is owned by a gay couple, John Jackson and Sandy Miller. In addition to a continental breakfast, they host a free cocktail hour every night. Miller seems to remember everyone’s names and is great at introducing himself so all guests can get to know each other.
That Hacienda at Warm Sands in Palm Springs is a luxury property across from InnDulge and includes two pools and a hot tub. A free lunch is also included. Known for pampering guests, the resort even has a pillow menu to please even the most discerning guest.
Desert Paradise Resort Palm Springs is kitty-corner from Hacienda and is another high-end resort with steam room and dry sauna.
Vista Grande is another luxury property that includes a huge whirlpool grotto and steam room. The resort has three pools, all heated to 94 degrees, for comfortable swimming on the coolest of nights.
El Mirasol villas is a historic resort originally built by reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes. The sprawling resort includes two pools.
CCBC is the only resort in neighboring Cathedral City. At 3.5 hectares it is the largest of the gay resorts. It is also open for day passes and is particularly popular with bears. The attached Runway Bar and Restaurant serves great food and hosts live shows.
While not strictly a gay hotel, it is Trixie Motel opened in June under the ownership of RuPaul’s Drag Race alumnus Trixie Mattel (aka Brian Michael Firkus) and her husband David Silver. The motel’s renovation was featured on the Discovery+ channel. Trixie is pretty – and pink – but she’s not cheap. A night in one of their very colorful and unique seven rooms will set you back around $600 on average, and prices go up to $900 a night during peak demand.
All gay nightlife was concentrated in Cathedral City until the 1990s. Now, LGBTQ nightlife is returning to Cathedral City, home to five gay bars. The largest concentration of gay bars in Palm Springs is in downtown Palm Springs on E. Arenas Road, just east of S. Indian Canyon Drive. There have been no lesbian bars in Palm Springs since Delilah’s closed 15 years ago, but Toucans and Hunters in Palm Springs is one of the most popular with lesbians.
Hunters started serving food during COVID lockdowns so it could stay open and it has carried on that tradition.
StreetBar is a local favorite and always attracts a lot of people, especially in the early evening.
Quadz Video Bar is another mainstay on Arenas Road with karaoke on Thursdays and Sundays. To celebrate Halloween, Quadz will be hosting a “Rocky Horror Picture Show” sing-along on Tuesday, October 25 at 7 p.m
Chill Bar Palm Springs is right next to Quadz. The bright corner bar with glass walls always seems to draw a crowd. Like Hunters, it also serves food.
black book is the new kid on the block and known for its delicious gourmet bar food.
That Eagle 501 is a favorite with the leather, Levi’s and bear crowd.
Located just around the corner from Arenas Road on S. Indian Canyon Drive, Tryst Bar and Lounge is known for featuring local musicians.
That tool shed, on the edge of the Warm Sands neighborhood, is famous for its Thursday night underwear night. In response to the pandemic, it was expanded into the parking lot so it can accommodate a large crowd and serve people who don’t feel safe with large indoor gatherings.
Cathedral City’s version of the toolshed, the barracksWednesday is her underwear night. It has always had a large outdoor patio.
An Eleven bar is a popular piano bar with karaoke on Thursdays and Sundays and a popular drag brunch on Sundays.
That AMP Sports Lounge takes its name from the couple who own it, Paul and Antonio Lopez-Cochran. AMP stands for Antonio Marries Paul. In addition to being the place to catch sporting events around the city, AMP’s stage also hosts karaoke on Fridays and drag bingo on Thursdays.
Roost lounge is just around the corner from AMP and is revered for its monthly Chicken Ranch charity fundraiser. She boasts that she raised $18,000 for breast cancer this month. Wednesday is karaoke night, Friday is disco and Sunday is bingo.
Enjoy your meal
Palm Springs is full of great restaurants. Belong to the best Tropical, with its huge outdoor terrace ideal for those who don’t want to eat inside. Fried chicken is one of the most popular dishes.
trio is famous for its happy hour and fabulous gourmet food. The fixed price menu of $24.99 daily from 3pm to 6pm is a great bargain considering the quality of the restaurant.
That Emperor Grill has great food, an exceptional wraparound patio, and is a good spot for people-watching on Palm Canyon Drive in the heart of downtown.
That Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge is a magnificent luxury restaurant with delicious food served in style in its very comfortable and colorful dining rooms.
Mid Mod Cafe is a great spot for breakfast and lunch with a good selection of burgers, burritos, and salad bowls at reasonable prices.
Jeffrey Bernstein and his husband Oscar Chamudes own the Target PSP Shop on Palm Canyon Drive in the heart of downtown. The store specializes in California-made clothing and mid-century modern Palm Springs-inspired memorabilia. The shop works with non-profit organizations to produce t-shirts with the group’s name and logo, with a portion of the proceeds from sales going to the organization itself. You can see Destination PSP merchandise at various stores across the city. Incidentally, Bernstein is running for a seat on the Palm Springs City Council in the upcoming November 8 election.
In Warm Sands, just a few steps from the Tool Shed Bar, you’ll find the Q trading company that sells everything from cards and books to erotica. his neighbor, gearspecializes in fetish clothing and gear.
For more information, contact the city’s official tourist office website.
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