Perhaps the gayest and most glamorous city to add to your itinerary, Palm Springs is a desert oasis world-renowned for its LGBTQ-friendly atmosphere. If you’re planning your gay Palm Springs vacation, look no further! This guide will cover everything, including the best resorts, restaurants, bars, clubs, events, and other attractions.
The Palm Springs Gay Scene
Out of at least 48,000 people in Palm Springs, approximately 33-50 percent of that population is LGBTQ – including the entire city council. This makes it home to arguably the largest LGBTQ community in California coming in at third place among US cities with the most gay and lesbian households.
Since its golden age, Tinseltown’s chic personalities have brought their decadent lifestyles to this otherwise conservative desert city. Golden Age Hollywood stars were required to stay within a few hundred miles of their studios — which brought them to Palm Springs. Stars like Marilyn Monroe, Great Garbo, Liberace, and many more brought liberal ideas to Palm Springs, forging it into the progressive community it’s known as today.
LGBTQ Events In Palm Springs
The city holds plenty of LGBTQ events and activities all year round, so you’re likely to catch a festival or two whenever you plan to visit. Make sure to mark your calendar with these LGBTQ-centric events when planning your stay in the city.
Cathedral City LGBTQ Days
Are you planning to visit Palm Springs in the spring? The Cathedral City LGBTQ Days refers to a reputable Pride festival where you can participate in pool parties, costume parties, outdoor dancing, and gay fairs. The outdoor event is guaranteed to open each year with a wide range of vibrant LGBTQ festivities.
Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend
The can’t-miss Club Skirts Dinah Shore Weekend is one of the world’s biggest music festivals, attracting more than 15,000 participants annually. The girl party getaway features ultra-chic entertainment with pool parties, celebrity sightseeing, cabana lounging, and the like – turning all five days into one memorable hot mess.
In 2022, Coachella featured a roster mostly dominated by LGBTQ members and allies, including Kim Petras, Phoebe Bridgers, Girl in Red, and more. America’s biggest music festival welcomes participants from all walks of life, so it’s sure to get even gayer – regardless of the event owner’s anti-LGBTQ reservations.
White Party Palm Springs
“The High Priest of Gay Parties,” Jeffrey Sanker annually holds perhaps America’s gayest dance party, promising an inebriating mixture of men and music. At the White Party Palm Springs, expect dance floors decorated with abs, alcohol, and other attractions.
This annual gay Palm Springs film festival provides an outlet for all kinds of queer storytelling on the big screen. Cinema Diverse brings filmmakers, actors, producers, and other industry professionals — big and small — together to celebrate the LGBTQ community through creative expression and the love of film.
Palm Springs Leather Pride
If you’re a leather daddy or a like-minded leather connoisseur, make sure to catch October’s Palm Springs Leather Pride. As one of the largest leather parties in the country, there’s no shortage of booths, markets, lectures, and parties for all things leather.
When Is Palm Springs Gay Pride?
In true Palm Springs fashion, the Palm Springs Pride Parade and Festival hosts parties filled with live music, community booths, and other festivities. As the biggest Pride event in the Coachella Valley, it celebrates the iconic equal rights march, promotes LGBTQ history, and contributes to the prosperity of the Californian LGBTQ community.
Where To Stay
Being among the most liberal-leaning American cities, it’s not hard to find welcoming gay resorts in Palm Springs.
Palm Springs Santiago Resort
650 E San Lorenzo Road
Offering palm trees, hammocks, outdoor fire pits, and an impressionable view of the San Jacinto Mountains is the Santiago Resort. This men’s-only and clothing-optional resort is also less than two miles away from the airport, Palm Springs Convention Center, and Saks Fifth Avenue.
555 E San Lorenzo Road
For those looking to escape the usual high-profile Palm Springs nightlife, check out the Triangle Inn. This cozy resort is slightly off the beaten path in a more secluded setting. While it may not be a big property, the fewer rooms feature their own dining room and kitchen, perfect for low-key private time.
Desert Paradise Gay Men’s Resort
615 S Warm Sands Drive
Boasting a lush sauna, saltwater pool, and Jacuzzi, Desert Paradise Gay Men’s Resort is sure to give a warm welcome for singles and couples alike. One of its stand-out features is that all the rooms are namesakes of gay celebrities and icons, topping it off with their paintings.
CCBC Resort Hotel
68-300 Gay Resort Drive, Cathedral City
Basically a party resort, CCBC Resort Hotel features four playrooms, a spa, a pool, and more. It also offers twelve-hour passes for those who plan to socialize and hop to the next hotel or resort. Stick around CCBC for a gay massage in Palm Springs, combined with flavorful drinks and drag.
All Worlds Resort
535 S Warm Sands Drive
With two properties just a quick drive away from downtown Palm Springs, All Worlds Resort is an excellent option for gay men who want to stay close to the Palm Springs nightlife. It offers day and night passes, catering to guests looking for an affordable day trip.
Kimpton The Rowan
100 W Tahquitz Canyon Way
A five-star hotel with 153 glam and spacious suites and rooms, Kimpton The Rowan is one of the largest and best Palm Springs gay resorts. Expect plenty of martini-sipping, pool partying, and some of the best of the city’s local cuisine.
Where To Eat
Just about everything in and around Palm Springs is LGBTQ-owned at best and LGBTQ-friendly at worst.
707 N Palm Canyon Drive
Sit at patio tables, enjoy American cuisine, and indulge in specialty cocktails at Trio — “where Palm Springs goes to eat.” Because it’s among the LGBTQ community’s most popular places to eat, it’s usually packed and requires reservations. However, getting a spot here is sure to get you your money’s worth with a modern atmosphere, good food, and responsive staff.
849 N Palm Canyon Drive
Serving you a wide range of cuisines paired with an elegant and creative setting is Eight4Nine. This LBGTQ-friendly art lover’s eatery is one to look out for, thanks to its focus on ambiance, presentation, and culinary selection. Eight4Nine reimagines American cuisine with artistic flair, bringing diverse dishes together and onto your table.
Pinocchio In The Desert
143 E Tahquitz Canyon Way
A budget-friendly breakfast stop with a scenic outdoor dining area, Pinocchio in the Desert is the perfect place to recover from last night’s hangover. On the flip side, the eatery also offers considerably large servings of cocktails and champagne for those whose parties never stop.
Wang’s In The Desert
424 S Indian Canyon Drive
In the heart of downtown Palm Springs is Wang’s in the Desert, a Pan-Asian restaurant combining Cantonese, Thai, Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean cuisine influences. It features an outdoor patio, a Koi pond, and a private Red Room.
Where To Party
Palm Springs is renowned for epic gay parties and festivities in and surrounding the whole city. A large selection of gay bars, clubs, and lounges are mostly on E Arenas Road. Consider a number of these LGBTQ-exclusive social hotspots.
Toucans Tiki Lounge
2100 N Palm Canyon Drive
There’s no more need to take a trip over to LGBTQ-friendly options in Brazil and Hawaii when you can drop by Toucans Tiki Lounge. This quirky, tiki-themed, gay cocktail lounge features flashy drag performances and countless events with the RuPaul girls. Don’t forget about their Happy Hour specials from noon to dinner time!
224 E Arenas Road
As one of the local gay staples for over 15 years, Streetbar markets itself as one of the friendliest gay bars in Palm Springs. With karaoke nights, glam decor, and special daily drinks, this bar makes sure you feel right at home at the heart of the gay Palm Springs nightlife.
200 S Indian Canyon Drive
Every city nightlife needs an energetic sing-along bar. Quadz takes the top spot in Palm Springs as one of the most popular video bars. It especially caters to the younger LGBTQ community as it’s a rebranded version of the old Spurline — and now features a modern kick with VJs that churn out music video clips popular with any gay crowd.
36737 Cathedral Canyon Drive
Try Trunks for a more budget-friendly option that still promises the West Hollywood Cathedral City experience. Its patrons can use a pool table, watch sports on several TVs, and enjoy affordable cocktails while gushing over the old-school neighborhood vibe.
217 E Arenas Road
Known for being one of the sociable bars in the best nightlife district in Palm Springs, Chill Lounge offers plenty of opportunities to meet new people. Thanks to its roomy and spacious interior, well-balanced playlists, and hunky bartenders, Chill is a gay favorite in Palm Springs.
Oscar’s Cafe And Bar
125 E Tahquitz Canyon Way #108
One of the more casual bars (being a cafe too), Oscar’s Cafe and Bar offers a magnificent outdoor courtyard and dining area. Boasting perhaps the biggest Sunday Gay Disco Dance in California, Oscar’s is a favorite among Palm Springs gay bars.
Other Fun Things To Do In Palm Springs
Palm Springs offers so much more to do other than partying. Spice up your trip with a city tour, outdoor activities, shopping districts, zoos, and more.
Explore E Arenas Road
E Arenas Road is easily the most gay-popular area with the most LGBTQ-owned local businesses and attractions. The local community has long been working to create one of the most diverse and inclusive gay neighborhoods in Palm Springs.
After a long night of clubbing and bar-hopping, cap off your weekend by checking out these attractions:
- Rough Trade Leather & Gear: World-class leather, fetish, biker, jockstrap gear, and endless kinks await you here.
- GayMart: Think of this as LGBTQ Gap. It’s got super unique clothing, great variety, and super helpful staff. It’s your 1-stop-gaywear-shop.
- Krave And Culture: An ultra-glam fashion store designed to suit your every need for queer fashion – from fishnets to swimwear, and other clothing pieces, Krave and Culture has you covered.
Visit The Palm Springs Art Museum
101 N Museum Drive
A classic landmark of Palm Springs is its Art Museum, decked out in an impressive collection of Native American and European paintings and other forms of art. Expect more than just its art collection with its three properties, cafe, exhibitions, and areas for performing arts.
See Flora And Fauna At The Living Desert Zoo
47900 Portola Avenue, Palm Desert
This non-profit zoo has over 500 animals across around 150 species with at least 500,000 guests and visitors every year. It’s ranked as one of the top 10 US zoos and specializes in desert gardens and wildlife.
Take A Hike On The Cactus To Clouds Trail
Skyline Trail, Palm Springs – San Jacinto Peak
An exhausting but rewarding mountain hike! Starting at Palm Springs up to the top of the San Jacinto Mountains, it boasts an intimidating elevation gain of 10,300 feet, making it one of the highest day hikes in the US.
The Bottom Line
Every color of the LGBTQ rainbow is bound to feel right at home in Palm Springs! Whether you’re looking to indulge in gay nightlife, get wild at a festival, or just have a relaxing gaycation, Palm Springs has everything you need.
Related | The Ultimate Gay Hawaii Travel Guide