Palm Springs Gay Travel
wolfyy’s Palm Springs gay guide to the best hotels, gay bars, shopping, & things to do.
The Gay Travel Experience: Palm Springs, California
Palm Springs is one of the most magical, relaxing, and exceptionally gay-friendly destinations in the world. This desert paradise is known for its plethora of gay hotels and popular gay events that consistently attract travelers from all over North America.
There are so many things to love about Palm Springs—the easygoing gay scene, friendly guys, clear blue skies, and fun gay nightlife to name a few. It’s particularly popular as a gay destination during winter, when when the rest of the United States experiences cool weather.
The gay crowd in Palm Springs skews a bit older. Renting or even owning a vacation home is quite popular among gay men. However, whenever big events like White Party, Coachella, or Palm Springs Pride come around, travelers of all ages will visit.
If you haven’t been yet, add Palm Springs to the top of your travel list! In this guide, I’ll recommend the best places to stay, explore, shop, party, and more.
Gay Palm Springs: Hotels, Resorts & Where to Stay
Palm Springs is famous for its huge selection of gay hotels. The town is filled with all sorts of them, most notably the nude and clothing optional gay resorts.
Most gay travelers choose to stay near Downtown Palm Springs or the adjacent neighborhoods. These areas are most convenient since downtown is the heart of local gay life.
However, since driving is always necessary, don’t unnecessarily limit yourself to these areas. When you’re in Palm Springs, the gay area is everywhere!
Below are some of my favorite gay hotels and places to stay in Palm Springs.
The Hacienda at Warm Sands
The Hacienda at Warm Sands is my absolute favorite hotel in Palm Springs. It’s one of the best local clothing optional gay resorts and staying here was paradise.
With a 1-bedroom suite, two courtyard pools, friendly staff, and one of the coziest beds I’ve ever slept in, I couldn’t have been more comfortable.
I love how The Hacienda perfectly balances being both an upscale luxury hotel as well as a gay nude sunbathing resort. The lovely gentlemen who took care of me and my partner were so friendly and perfectly anticipated everything we would need.
Being nude isn’t required though, and lots of guys prefer to lounge around the pool area in a sexy swimsuit.
Hilton Palm Springs Resort
Hilton Palm Springs Resort is a favorite among gay travelers for its central location and because it hosts most of the local gay events. The Hilton is also one of the few properties within short walking distance of the gay bars on East Arenas Road.
The property has modern interiors and relaxing outdoor lounge spaces which are perfect for hanging outside around sunset. The pool area is beautiful as well, with covered cabanas available.
The Saguaro Hotel
The Saguaro Hotel attracts lots of gay travelers with its colorful rooms, rainbow façade, large pool, and super affordable prices.
It’s a tiny bit farther from Downtown Palm Springs than most other LGBT hotels, but it’s still only a 6-minute drive! For budget-conscious travelers, the price is definitely worth it.
Highlights include a private balcony/patio with every room, a 24-hour fitness center, an on-site spa, and the popular Mexican restaurant, El Jefe Desert Cantina.
The fabulous, all-pink Trixie Motel is a brand-new addition to the city’s collection of gay hotels. Following the filming of Trixie Mattel’s Discovery+ series here, the Trixie Motel is now open and bookable!
Vacation Rentals in Palm Springs & Palm Desert
Considering the beautiful weather in Palm Springs, you might love the option of renting a house. Groups of travelers especially prefer having a private pool, full kitchen, and much more space to spread out.
There are lots of places to choose from, both in Palm Springs as well as in adjacent neighborhoods. It’s a great chance to embrace the style of a mid-century home, which is the most common architectural style around.
Palm Springs rentals on VRBO come in a few different varieties, from bungalows to apartment rentals in condo buildings. There are so many places with beautiful pools and outdoor lounge spaces.
The vacation rentals on Plum Guide in the area are absolutely gorgeous. If you want the best, most luxurious places to stay, check out the options available in Palm Springs as well as the neighborhoods of Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert to the south.
Palm Desert rentals are most popular for gay travelers visiting the area for big events like Coachella and the Stagecoach Country Music Festival. I stayed in a house in Palm Desert for part of my trip and loved it!
Palm Springs Gay Travel Experiences
Joshua Tree National Park
A visit to Joshua Tree National Park is an absolute must for anyone who loves the outdoors, plants, or even stargazing. While visiting during the day, you’ll see the gorgeous landscapes and rock formations, all dotted with Joshua Trees.
The park is huge and there’s so much to see. Hidden Valley Nature Trail is probably the most iconic scenic spot.
A late-evening trip is ideal for stargazing. The shooting stars were beautiful! Plus, there was no entry fee this late at night. We arrived just before 10 PM.
Make sure to bring enough clothing to stay warm if you visit Joshua Tree at night. With the elevation and evening temperature drop, it can be chilly.
Fitted sweatpants and a cozy sweatshirt are ideal, as well as a lightweight packable blanket if you’ll want to lie down. My friends and I even brought a little cooler with some hard seltzer!
Shop Local Gay Clothing Stores
Bear Wear has all sorts of shorts, shirts, gay party gear, and fetish accessories like sex toys and jockstraps.
It’s the best gay clothing store to grab anything last-minute, which comes in handy before local parties or events. The store is not just for bears either—you’ll find clothes of all sizes here.
Division is my personal favorite place to shop in Palm Springs. They’re a fantastic high-end gay clothing store selling a bunch of specialty brands. Pick up a new button-down shirt, shorts, or even a sexy swimsuit.
I was impressed with how well everything fit! The owner really does a great job sourcing these clothing lines. The staff was super friendly and helpful, too. Definitely stop by while you’re in central Palm Springs.
Ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Experience the epic panoramic views from the cliffs of Chino Canyon with a 2.5-mile ascent on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The tram cars rotate, so you truly get views all around.
Once you’re at the top, there’s plenty more to do. Dine with an epic view at Peaks Restaurant or grab a quick cocktail at Lookout Lounge. You can even hike up here along one of the popular trails.
Palm Springs Gay Bars & Clubs
Given Palm Springs is such a popular gay hotspot, you can expect a huge number of gay bars here!
Some are open all day and popular for afternoon cocktails, while others are better in the evening. There are plenty of friendly people to meet, making Palm Springs an ideal destination for single gay travelers.
You’ll notice that most Palm Springs gay bars are clustered together along East Arenas Road. This is the center of the local gay area in downtown Palm Springs. The others are just a few minutes away by car.
Below are all the most popular gay bars in Palm Springs along with when to go. Since there are so many, I’ll keep the descriptions concise!
ChillBar is one of my favorite gay bars in Palm Springs. Mist sprayers on the wraparound patio make this bar a great place to cool down during the day. Drinks here are super cheap, too!
The indoor area is spacious too, with a giant wraparound bar. It’s best after 3 PM any day of the week. On Thursdays through Saturdays, the evening crowd fills in after 9 PM.
QUADZ Palm Springs
QUADZ Palm Springs is a spacious gay video bar that always entertains. Video jockeys queue up gay-favorite music video clips, live performers sing show tunes, and some nights they have karaoke.
Blackbook is the best gay bar for afternoon food and drinks. They have indoor-outdoor seating as well as tables along the street.
Guys come here both solo and in groups of friends and everything is super casual. It’s easy to make friends sitting at the sidewalk-facing tables.
Eagle 501 Bar
Just down the street, Eagle 501 Bar also serves lunch with streetside seating. Expect a sexier vibe in the evening, at Eagle 501 takes on more of the expected leather and fetish ambiance.
The busiest times during the week are from 6 PM to 9 PM, and on weekends things stay lively until midnight.
Hunters is undeniably the most popular Palm Springs gay bar. They have everything, including a huge rear patio area, streetside seating, pool tables, drag performances, front room tables for food, go-go boys, and a separate section for the gay club.
The entire space is super modern, not to mention huge! There’s a ton of space to socialize, dance, or just grab casual drinks.
And in case you were wondering, Hunters Palm Springs is indeed the sister bar of the Hunters location in Fort Lauderdale!
Barracks Bar (Cathedral City)
Barracks Bar in nearby Cathedral City is worth a mention even though it’s not technically in Palm Springs. Just a 15-minute drive south of Downtown Palm Springs, Barracks is an enormous leather and fetish gay bar.
The bar is popular with a mature crowd and their admirers. If you’re into daddies, you can’t miss a weekend evening or one of the special parties here!
Barracks has several bar areas, both indoor and outdoor, as well as a wraparound patio, dance floor, and front lounge room.
Tool Shed is a smaller local leather and fetish gay bar in Palm Springs. Much more of a local hangout, it’s one of the few gay bars outside of the Downtown area.
While the surrounding area isn’t the liveliest, a visit to Tool Shed will provide all the entertainment you’ll need. They’ve got go-go dancers, sexy shirtless bartenders, provocative Tom of Finland wall art, and plenty of handsome mature men.
Palm Springs Gay Events
In addition to being a warm-weather destination to avoid the winter cold, travelers also visit for all sorts of different Palm Springs gay events each year.
International Bear Convergence
International Bear Convergence is one of the most popular gay events in Palm Springs. Held during the winter season, it draws an enormous crowd.
The typical schedule includes four days of epic pool parties, comedy acts, drag shows, and high-energy dance parties with well-known DJs.
Big Men’s Weekend Palm Springs
The second of two bear weeks in Palm Springs, Big Men’s Weekend is a calmer, more intimate gathering hosted every October.
Events begin with a welcome party on Friday followed by an all-day pool party on Saturday, complete with plenty of sexy dancers. On Sunday, everyone relaxes by the pool at the event’s clothing-optional host hotel.
White Party Palm Springs
White Party Palm Springs is a fantastic weekend of circuit parties and other gay events typically held in May.
Palm Springs may have a relaxed and easygoing vibe most of the time, but when White Party rolls around, things get super busy! It’s an incredibly popular weekend to visit.
For tips and useful information about the events, check out wolfyy’s guide to White Party Palm Springs.
Palm Springs Pride
Greater Palm Springs Pride in early November is a beautiful celebration of LGBTQ+ diversity here in one of the most popular gay destinations on the planet. It’s also the perfect escape from fall weather!
Bring some stylish and sexy swimwear for poolside parties like Desert Heat. I also recommend grabbing tickets to the pride brunch.
Palm Springs Gay Travel Tips
What’s the Best Time to Visit Palm Springs?
In terms of weather, the best months to visit Palm Springs are February through May and September through November. Tourism slows during the summer as everyone enjoys warm weather in other North American destinations.
If you’re not a pool person, then December and January may be nice as well. During these months, high temperatures are a little on the cooler side at around 70 degrees.
Other great times for gay travelers to visit Palm Springs are before and during large local events like Palm Springs Pride in early November, one of the local bear weeks like International Bear Convergence, or White Party.
Even if you’re not attending the parties for these events, having a ton of other gay men around makes this a great time to visit.
Prepare for the Desert Heat
Temperatures in Palm Springs during the months of May through September consistently exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so be conscious about how many hours you spend in the hot sun.
Even though it’s typically comfortable to be outside given the dry air, you’ll still want to continually stay hydrated and take breaks from direct sun exposure. Heat exhaustion and headaches later in the day are no fun!
See wolfyy’s complete collection of gay travel guides for more gay destination ideas around the world.