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Palm Springs Gay Travel

Palm Springs gay guide to the best hotels, gay bars, restaurants, and things to do.

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The Gay Travel Experience: Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs is among America’s most magical, relaxing, and exceptionally gay destinations. This desert paradise is known for its plethora of gay hotels and popular gay events that attract gay men from all over North America.

Palm Springs gay travel

I love so many things about Palm Springs. The easygoing gay scene, friendly guys, epic weather, and fun gay nightlife make it such a fantastic gay destination, especially when the rest of the country still has cool weather.

Palm Springs gay travel
Palm Springs gay travel experience
Palm Springs gay travel experience

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, guys of all ages will be visiting.

If you haven’t been yet, add Palm Springs to the top of your travel list! In this guide, I’ll recommend all the best hotels, gay bars, places to shop, and more.

Gay Palm Springs: Hotels & 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.

friends at gay clothing optional hotel
Luxury gay hotel in Palm Springs
friends at gay clothing optional hotel

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!

Luxury gay hotel in Palm Springs

Below are some of my favorite gay hotels and places to stay in Palm Springs.

The Hacienda

The Hacienda at Warm Sands is my absolute favorite hotel in Palm Springs. It’s a clothing optional gay resort and staying here was absolute 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.

Palm Springs gay hotel
Palm Springs gay hotel
bed in luxury suite

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.

bed in luxury suite

Aside from all the other Palm Spring clothing optional gay hotels, there are still quite a few options to choose from.

Hilton Palm Springs

Hilton Palm Springs Resort is a favorite among gay travelers for its central location and host of most of the local gay events, like White Party Palm Springs. It’s also one of the few properties within short walking distance of the gay bars on East Arenas Road.

Hilton gay hotel Palm Springs
Hilton gay hotel Palm Springs
Hilton Palm Springs

The Hilton 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.

Hilton Palm Springs

The Saguaro

The Saguaro Hotel attracts lots of gay travelers with its colorful rooms, rainbow façade, large pool, and super affordable prices.

The Saguaro Hotel rainbow facade

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.

Saguaro Palm Springs
Saguaro Palm Springs
The Saguaro Hotel rainbow facade

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.

Trixie's cactus garden

Trixie Motel (Coming Soon!)

The fabulous, all-pink Trixie Motel will soon be brand new addition to Palm Springs gay hotels. After the filming of Trixie Mattel’s Discovery+ series here, Trixie motel is scheduled to open sometime around summer 2022.

Trixie Motel

Until then, you can grab a photo in Trixie’s Cactus Garden outside the property!

Trixie Motel
Trixie's cactus garden

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.

Palm Springs gay traveler renting house

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.

relaxing at vacation home
Palm Springs gay traveler renting house
relaxing at vacation home

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.

gay friends in pool

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.

vacation properties in Palm Desert
vacation properties in Palm Desert
gay friends in pool

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.

Joshua Tree national park

The park is huge and there’s so much to see. Hidden Valley Nature Trail is probably the most iconic scenic spot. For a few more recommendations, see these free things to do in Joshua Tree.

Joshua Tree national park
gay traveler at Joshua Tree National Park

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.

gay traveler at Joshua Tree National Park

Fitted sweatpants, a cozy sweatshirt, are ideal, as well as a lightweight packable blanket if you’ll want to lay 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 jockstraps and sex toys. 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.

gay clothing store in Palm Springs
Division Palm Springs gay store
gay clothing store in Palm Springs

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 swimsuit.

Division Palm Springs gay store

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.

aerial tram in Palm Springs
aerial tram in Palm Springs
mountaintop view of valley

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.

mountaintop view of valley

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.

travelers at gay bar
travelers at gay bar
Palm Springs gay club

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.

Palm Springs gay club

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 Palm Springs

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. Drink here are super cheap, too!

outdoor gay bar in Palm Springs
outdoor gay bar in Palm Springs
ChillBar Palm Springs

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.

ChillBar Palm Springs

QUADZ Palm Springs

QUADZ 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!

gay bars in Palm Springs

Blackbook Bar

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.

Blackbook gay bar
Blackbook gay bar
gay bars in Palm Springs

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 Gay Bar & Club

Hunters is undeniably the most popular gay bar in Palm Springs. 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.

Palm Springs gay club
Hunters Palm Springs
Hunters Club during Palm Springs Pride

The entire space is super modern, not to mention huge! There’s a ton of space to socialize, dance, or just grab casual drinks. Hunters is also one of the most popular places to be during Palm Springs Pride.

Hunters Club during Palm Springs Pride

And in case you were wondering, Hunters Palm Springs is indeed the sister bar of the Hunters location in Fort Lauderdale!

Stacy’s Palm Springs (Temporarily Closed)

Stacy’s was the popular neighborhood gay piano bar. As of right now, the bar is closed after being acquired by a neighboring gay bar. It is expected to re-open after renovation, potentially under a different name.

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.

Barracks gay fetish 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 gay fetish bar
sign in gay bar near Palm Springs

Barracks has several bar areas, both indoor and outdoor, as well as a wraparound patio, dance floor, and front lounge room. Be sure to check the Barracks Bar website to see which special events are planned.

sign in gay bar near Palm Springs

Tool Shed

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.

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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.

visiting Palm Springs

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.

White Party gay pool party
visiting Palm Springs
White Party gay pool party

Other great times for gay travelers to visit Palm Springs are before and during large local events like Palm Springs Pride in early November or White Party in late April/early May. Even if you’re not partaking in the parties for these events, having a ton of other gay men around makes this a great time to visit.

staying cool poolside desert heat

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.

palm trees in hot weather
palm trees in hot weather
staying cool poolside desert heat

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!

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Visiting for White Party? Read wolfyy’s tips for White Party Palm Springs.

Or, explore more of southern California with wolfyy’s Los Angeles gay guide.

Need more ideas for gay destinations? Explore wolfyy’s full list of gay travel guides.

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Because I've been to every destination I write about.

wolfyy gay travel guides are based on my own experiences, plus trusted tips from LGBT travelers & locals.

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