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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



TRAVEL Palm Springs: The gay desert oasis
by Roy Heale

This article shared 4451 times since Wed Jan 28, 2009
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Basking in the heat of the California desert lies one of America's most magical gay and lesbian vacation destinations. Nestled in a vast fertile valley surrounded by lush and ancient palm groves, banked by steep ravines and mountain peaks, the village of Palm Springs is no mirage, as it proves to be a really gay desert oasis.

Some of the original residents included Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Gerald Ford, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, just to name a few. This resident ancestry, plus the work of mayor-turned-congressman Sonny Bono, led to the development of a vibrant community that evolved to provide an escape from the frenetic pace of life in Hollywood.

Times have changed and today the community includes an estimated 30,000 gay and lesbian residents who work tirelessly to ensure people receive the most gay-friendly welcome and escape from daily stress when they arrive in this desert playground. Almost 100 LGBT accommodations, bars, restaurants and shops are ready to welcome people for the ideal gay playtime.

Many vacation destinations claim to be gay-friendly, but Palm Springs demonstrates a commitment to gay travelers in several ways. The city's major visitor center boasts a separate LGBT section of brochures and information. While you are browsing in this area it is only a short time before a cheerful staff member joins you to make sure you have everything you require. They will probably ensure that you have a copy of the impressive 66-page Official Gay and Lesbian Visitor's Guide plus the LGBT foldout map of Palm Springs. If that isn't proof enough, there is the Web site dedicated to community businesses or a copy of the DVD information video about gay Palm Springs. Phew!

All of this information is readily accessible from the Tourism Bureau before you leave home and on their LGBT Web site in order to assist with your trip planning. This is very important because there are over fourty gay and lesbian accommodations for you to select from to choose your holiday home. They range from small bed and breakfasts to large resorts and somewhere there exists a price which is perfect for every budget.

The most temperate time of the year is October to March, but the summer months are ideal for the sun gods. Almost every day the hot sun shines down and each accommodation offers at least one swimming pool, so people should be sure to pack plenty of suntan lotion, as it's a desert holiday requirement. Cool and inviting pools are the Palm Springs' signature, which will become obvious as the plane is landing. These pools are as different as the Speedos that surround them and the shapes and sizes vary as much as do the poolside bodies. This fact should not be overlooked in the accommodation-selection process as people find themselves cooling off in a sparkling pool from early morning to late afternoon. A pre-dinner swim or enjoying a midnight dip before retiring will rapidly become a part of the daily routine in the desert heat.

There is a smorgasbord of choices regarding where to stay, but pre-travel surfing on the Web will become fun and assist in making the selection a little easier.

We selected the All Worlds Resort on Warm Sands Drive in the heart of the gay community—close to all the action. With three different pools to choose from, there was plenty of variety in the daily occupation of sun-tanning and swimming. The spacious air-conditioned rooms, daily buffet breakfast and Saturday poolside barbecue are just a few of the reasons why this resort is so popular with locals and tourists. People may also recognize this resort from the adult movies made here by the video-production company of the same name. Who knows? They might even be filming while you are a guest! This resort's biggest asset proved to be the very friendly, and helpful staff who are there 24/7 to look after anything you might need for a perfect getaway.

Whether people spend the day poolside or exploring the surrounding neighbourhood, their evening dining in Palm Springs is an adventure in grand tastes and gracious touches. Fine foods and fantastic flavors await the discerning palate with atmosphere and ambiance to suit any mood.

An absolute must-dine destination is Blame It On Midnight, with its multilevel dining room, large circular cocktail bar and cabaret-style entertainment lounge. The perfectly cooked food is simple, inexpensive and casual ( and features an extensive American menu ) . The atmosphere is so Palm Springs you can practically hear Frank Sinatra singing in the lounge! This establishment is "visual" ( to say the least! ) and the staff is trés gay and friendly. The majority of the clientele is gay and diners will immediately feel right at home. People should be sure to take a short drive to the neighboring community of Cathedral City and check out their sister restaurant Shame On The Moon.

Also, close to the bars and nightlife is the very simple Fishermen's Market Grill, where meals will almost make patrons forget they're in the desert and located quite a distance from the ocean. The eatery's list of daily catch selections could not be more extensive, and diners are invited to choose the accompaniments for their fruits de mer, as well as how their selection is cooked.

Back in the heart of town a variety of sidewalk cafes, Hamburger Mary's and the Rainbow Café offer a selection of reasonable prices and varied menus to choose from each being within walking distance of one another and the gay bars.

After dinner the perfect ending for a hot, dry day will prove to be the air-conditioned refuge, libations and social gatherings at one of the many gay bars and clubs. The choices are varied, ranging from dancing at Hunter's Video Bar, a dazzling light show and dancing at Heaven Nightclub or the rainforest setting complimented by festive drinks at Toucan's Tiki Lounge. Badlands neighbourhood bar claims to have the best pool tables in town and the Levi and Leather dress code at the Tool Shed will reward many travellers who packed more than shorts and T-shirts. These are just a few of the options for late night fun and as you travel from one venue to another you are bound to learn about where the party is happening on any given night.

In addition, Palm Springs and the surrounding desert region has much to offer in unique and tempting attractions for every gay tourist.

A visit to Pioneer Town created by Roy Rogers as the set for his televison show is a step back in time and on the drive there you will see one of the most impressive applications of windmill powered electricity generators in North America. This is an example of an historic way of life and new technology existing together in one region, both impressive in their own right.

The aerial tram ride ascending 8,400 feet to a cafe perched on the mountain's crest and extending to hiking trails can only be compared to a visit at an Alpine glen. Atop this summit the temperature drops several degrees, making people forget they're on a desert vacation.

From downtown, it's a worthwhile 10-minute drive to the The Indian Canyons on the edge of town, which are 15 miles long with indigenous palm trees; flora and fauna; and foot paths winding down to a stream, affording a perfect picnic location.

Shopping is a great pastime in Palm Springs and throughout the region. Be sure to check out the shops on El Paseo in Palm Desert—nicknamed "The Rodeo Drive" of the desert. Or stop in at The Gardens for a unique shopping experience in a tropical setting. And the Old Town of La Quinta is the most relaxed shopping anywhere in the valley.

Every Thursday night Palm Canyon Drive ( the town's main street ) is closed to traffic and is transformed into a vibrant pedestrian street fair called VillageFest. Shopping in Palm Springs is more than just a tradition-it's a well respected art form, making this the ideal day of the week for a spending spree with pink dollars.

For any athletic enthusiasts some of the best golf courses in the world can be found here and tennis courts are easily booked for a good racquet workout. Gyms and spas are everywhere for those important muscle tone-ups or an equally important personal pampering with a massage or therapeutic body treatment. You're on holiday so allow yourself a special treat!

A celebrity home tour will take you back to the days when the likes of Elvis Presley and Bob Hope called this their home.Such extravagant homes are rare and worthy of a look see. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is a 1,200-acre wildlife and botanical park, featuring the current home for rare and endangered desert animals in a natural setting.

The glitzy casinos are more akin to Monte Carlo than the Las Vegas strip providing some frivolous spending in search of lady luck and unique entertainment. The Palm Springs Follies are a must-see vaudeville-style of entertainment with a special twist, as the performers are all older than 55 and still kiicking in the chorus line!

Everything is available here in this desert oasis recently recognized as the newest gay vacation mecca. Whether people are looking for a quick weekend getaway, a retreat from winter's snowy onslaught or a honeymoon full of memories, Palm Springs has everything for the discriminating LGBT traveler.

So pack your shorts and T-shirts, along with a water bottle and a sun hat—and then head to this hot gay destination!

This article shared 4451 times since Wed Jan 28, 2009
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