Although you can’t go wrong with the SoCal lifestyle, living in L.A. can often take a toll. Sometimes you just need to escape the traffic and the constant Hollywood hustle. Thank god for the three-day weekend.
I recently hit the road to spend a few days in the desert oasis of Palm Springs. What it lacks in beachfront appeal, it makes up for in its charming retro Americana motifs and its unbeatable queer culture. With many gay resorts (most of which are clothing optional), it’s an ideal destination for a sense of community, as well as some good queer fun.
I spent the weekend atInndulge Resort, one of the desert city’s more desirable clothing optional resorts for gay men. Having recently undergone a complete renovation at the hands of owner, Jon Jackson, it’s just the place for a weekend of pampering by the saltwater pool with friends, old and new. But unlike most of the gay resorts in town, Inndulge trades in the gratuitous sexcapades (which are often just what you need) for a sense of community.
After a short drive from L.A., kick off your Palm Springs weekend with happy hour at Wang’s. The Chinese restaurant is an unusual but popular choice for a gay gathering. The long-running Friday happy hour in their sprawling outdoor space is the perfect spot to dip your toes in the Palm Springs scene, complete with go-go boys and cheap booze.
After working up a good buzz, it’s time to check in at Inndulge. The friendly staff will give you a full rundown of the property, from its lobby library of books and movies (including adult titles) to its saltwater pool and 12-man Jacuzzi and its outdoor common area that’s usually offering either continental breakfast, complimentary afternoon cocktails, or a BYOB happy hour. The pool area is also 420 friendly.
Get settled in your recently remodeled room before hitting the pool. Go in your cutest summer suit or nothing at all, whatever you find comfortable. There’s an unmistakable sense of community that makes it the perfect location for making some vacation friends.
For dinner, invite your new friends or ride solo over toTrio. Located in the heart of Palm Springs, it offers a warm and upbeat ambiance with a colorful SoCal motif. The prix fixe menu features Midwest comfort food with a California edge, including classics like calamari, St. Louis style spare ribs, and a house-made chocolate brownie.
If you’re up for another dip, the pool at Inndulge is open 24 hours. And night swimming is the perfect opportunity for the shy pool-goer who wants to try skinny dipping, just once.
When you’re hungry, head out to East Arenas Road, where they gay bars are already in full swing. There are multiple locations for a good brunch and bingo. But we recommendBlackbook. Their bacon, egg, and cheese “brunchwich” is a classic breakfast food served in a cool and contemporary bar setting.
After brunch, head over to North Palm Canyon Drive for some Palm Springs shopping with a midcentury desert flair. For some good unique thrifting, hit upGypsyland andIconic Atomic. Don’t pass up the essential Palm Springs fashions at theTrina Turk andMr. Turk flagship location. Check out some unique homoerotic art atWoodman/Shimko Gallery. Don’t forget to visitJust Fabulous for all your Palm Springs gifts, queer literature, and eccentric novelty needs.
If you’re not afraid of heights, take a trip up Mount San Jacinto on thePalm Springs Aerial Tramway. The world’s largest rotating tram car, it offers beautiful vast views of Palm Springs and the surrounding desert during the two-and-a-half-mile ascent. Once you get to the top, there are restaurants, observation decks, and 50 miles of hiking trails, so don’t forget your good boots.
Head back to Inndulge, and enjoy what’s left of the day by the pool. The staff usually has a batch or two of complimentary cocktails, ready to serve you poolside. Or bring your own beverage for a happy hour and some socializing with the other guests.
Get ready for dinner, and head out to Lulu California Bistro. One of Palm Springs’ most popular gay-friendly gatherings, its colorful hip décor and vibrant crowd exemplifies the best of classic Palm Springs. With a menu of classic dinner favorites, you must end the meal with the flourless triple chocolate cake.
After dinner, head over to East Arenas for drinks and dancing at Hunter’s. Go-go boys and drag shows keep the party going all night. Three blocks of gay bars make for a convenient barhop.
Wake up refreshed and head to the courtyard for continental breakfast. It’s an essential morning ritual for planning out your day or recapping the night before. Follow it up with a dip or a lounge around the pool.
For a unique adventure, take a little day trip down toJoshua Tree National Park or Salvation Mountain. The latter is a secluded hill in the desert of Niland, painted by Leonard Knight with beautiful colors and the message “God is love” as a shrine to his religious journey, welcoming people of all faiths to have a spiritual experience. Tunnels, caves, and abandoned vehicles are adorned with colorful details, making for the perfect photo op and a very unique experience. It also happens to be where Kesha shot her “Praying” video.
On the way back, stop at Salton Sea. White sands and blue waters with mountain vistas make for a beautiful afternoon by the beach. It’s a peaceful way to cap off a weekend of relaxation before heading back to L.A.