There are tons of gay-owned gems and LGBTQIA+-friendly shops to explore in Palm Springs, which is great news if you’re in town for a getaway or live here in the Coachella Valley. Our desert oasis is a cornucopia of quirky gifts, mid-century modern household goods, thrift stores that give back to the queer community, and everything in between. So if you’ve got $500 that’s just burning a hole through your wallet right now, consider making some time for a little retail therapy. Here are my votes for the best queer shopping in Palm Springs:

Adult gifts (for men)

Gear Leather & Fetish

For men who like to play hard, Gear Leather & Fetish on East Sunny Dunes Road carries some of the best fetish products from the top manufacturers in the world. Go grab a beer at the Tool Shed next door for some inspiration first.

Rough Trade Gear Palm Springs

The Arenas District in Palm Springs is home to Rough Trade Gear, featuring some of the sexiest men’s street, fetish, sport, and play wear. It’s just one of many shopping options in the ever-popular Arenas District “gayborhood.”

Antiques shopping

Palm Springs Vintage Market

The Palm Springs Vintage Market features the best selection of Southern California vendors selling vintage and antique furniture, art, clothing, jewelry, and home furnishings. Experience it for yourself on the first Sunday of every month (October through May), from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Palm Springs Cultural Center (formerly Camelot Theatre).

Antique Galleries of Palm Springs

If you can’t catch the Vintage Market, you can discover all sorts of inspiring things at Antique Galleries of Palm Springs. They have one of the largest collections of antique, vintage, and retro everything in the Coachella Valley.

This is just one corner of Antique Galleries of Palm Springs. Photo credit: Gregory Douglass

Clothing (for men) 

GayMart USA

In the heart of the Arenas District, GayMart USA proudly refers to itself as “America’s Favorite Gay Superstore.” Their specialty is swimwear and underwear of all kinds, but they also sell entertaining cards, presents, and toys for adults.

GayMart USA has it all. Photo credit: Gregory Douglass

Division Palm Springs

If you really want to dress the part of a Palm Springs local, Division Palm Springs is the place to shop. Also nestled in the Arenas District, Division always has a beautifully curated contemporary collection of button downs, clever T-shirts, classy swimwear, and ever-popular short-shorts that practically every gay man in town wears with pride.

Division’s storefront gives you a hint of what’s inside. Photo credit: Gregory Douglass

Gifts

Queertique Palm Springs

There’s no shop more unique in Palm Springs than Queertique. They are a queer lifestyle shop dedicated to amplifying the voices of independent queer artists and their art and apparel. You can even take a selfie in the store’s fabulous dressing room (and be sure to tag them in your Instagram post if you do)!

There is so much to see at Queertique. Photo credit: Gregory Douglass

Just Fabulous Palm Springs

Just Fabulous Palm Springs is, well, … just fabulous! Located next to Koffi North in the Uptown District, Just Fabulous is a lifestyle boutique with artwork, original gifts, mid-century modern photo books, and modern home decor items that are as inspiring as they are entertaining. Their greeting card selection alone could keep you entertained all afternoon.

Home furnishings

Ace Hardware

Yes, you read that right. Palm Springs Ace Hardware isn’t just your daddy’s hardware store (or is it)? It’s every gay man’s ideal version of a hardware store, and then some. From beautiful mid-century modern patio furniture to a vast selection of HVAC air filters, Ace is the place (sorry, I couldn’t resist) for all of your desert household needs. And they are as LGBTQ+ community-focused as a local business can be.

PS Homeboys

PS Homeboys are primarily home-staging specialists, but they’ve got a stunning showroom in the Arenas District full of beautiful, reasonably priced indoor/outdoor furniture and home decor. You can even browse through their inspiring wallpaper library to find the perfect look for your desert dwellings.

Design inspiration abounds at PS Homeboys. Photo credit: Gregory Douglass

Thrift stores 

Revivals

Revivals knows how to put the “care” in health care! The most socially-conscious gay locals shop and donate their furniture, appliances, jewelry, artwork, and time at Revivals. This is because all four Revivals store locations in the Coachella Valley donate 100 percent of their revenue, amounting to more than $1 million annually, to support comprehensive healthcare at DAP Health (the Desert AIDS Project).

Mitchells Palm Springs

Mitchells Palm Springs offers contemporary designer clothing, shoes, and accessories from the 1970s through ’90s for men and women. Boasting carefully-curated vintage and iconic designers, like Gaultier and Versace, Mitchells always aims for sleek and sexy. Picture a day of shopping before passing through the velvet ropes to get into Studio 54 — that’s the Mitchells experience!

Fabulous vintage clothing can be found at Mitchells Palm Springs. Photo credit: Gregory Douglass

With the world opening up more, it is the perfect time to visit Palm Springs. With 70 plus small hotels to choose from within Palm Spring’s city limits, deciding which one may seem like an overwhelming task. However, here are five hotels that each have a unique touch that might help with your selection.

Photo of Arrive Hotel pool

You Never have to Leave the Premises when you Stay at Arrive

Arrive

Located on North Palm Canyon, the adults-only Arrive hotel is a playful  oasis in the desert.

Here is the best thing about Arrive that you will not find anywhere else in town: their Poptails.

Made for adults only, Poptails are boozy, frozen ice pops aka childhood nostalgia for the very grown-up you. Available in rotating flavors like Aperol Spritz, Paloma, and Sex by the Pool, these housemade treats are a must. They’re available poolside for hotel guests but the locals know they can pop by and pick them up to go. It might be the best $8 you can spend on a hot day.

If you need to satisfy your caffeine or sugar craving, Arrive also has the Ice Cream Shop(pe) right on site, which is perfect if you want something a little less adult-like to cool your palate. And you can pick up speciality drinks for poolside enjoyment  or to go from the Cartel coffee shop.

 

The Cole Hotel and Biscuit and Counter Develop a Partnership

The Cole Hotel

This Palm Springs boutique hotel, designed by American Architect Hugh Kaptur in 1959, is restored and opened during the pandemic. The kitchen was expanded for the owners wanted to make their space one where visitors didn’t have to leave the premises for superb food.

Suddenly, things closed down because of Covid-19. It no longer made sense to have a full menu and chef on the premises. Biscuits and Counters had recently come to town and had no venue consistently to produce their melt-in-your-mouth biscuits, which were quickly becoming in great demand.

A partnership was developed. Biscuits and Counter made their savory biscuits in the kitchen and started to serve them in creative ways to The Cole’s guests. Now you walk out of your room and enjoy brunch by the pool.

If you want, you can meet local Palm Springs residents, for they have heard about the brunches and are coming to The Cole for a Sunday morning meetup with friends.

 

Take a Deep Breath and Enjoy the Gardens at the Dive Hotel

Dive Palm Springs

Are you dreaming of going to Europe and visiting the French Riviera?  We cannot help you with that right now, but we have a suggestion: reserve a room at Dive Palm Springs, an 11-room, adults-only boutique resort located in the heart of Palm Springs.

There are several stand-out  aspects to Dive but one of them is LuLu — an 8-foot-tall woman in a blue swimsuit and bathing cap made of neon and aluminum— who coyly greets you when you arrive.

And the other thing is Dive’s magnificent two-room, two-bed Paris Suite. It’s centerpiece is a 1919 belle époque brass and copper elevator cage that has been fully restored and converted into a Queen bed and lounge. There’s also the vintage“Not-So-Minibar” — a full-sized bar in a stunning vintage Tambour cabinet featuring 8 full bottles of premium liquors, elegant glassware and premium wines and Dom Perignon. There’s also an original copper-clad exterior window from the Flatiron building in NYC (c. 1903), reborn as an oversized antique wall mirror, the Christian Lacroix butterfly wallpaper, and antique Parisian chandeliers.  Très magnifique!

 

The Monkey Tree Offers Relaxation and Scandinavian Spa

The Monkey Tree

The 60-year old The Monkey Tree hotel has been restored to its mid-century modernism grandeur. Step back and feel what it was like when Palm Springs was the haven for movie stars escaping from the glare of the cameras.

This is the only place with an authentic Scandinavian Spa.  It has three components:

  1. First, you go into a dry sauna. (Presently, it is not open due to Covid-19 regulations – However, as soon restrictions are eliminated, it will be available again.)
  2. Then you jump into a pool cooled to 55 degrees and is for single occupancy.
  3. Finally, you go into an extra-deep jacuzzi. You sit on a bench, which allows you to have water over your shoulders. It is heated at 102 degrees and has room for two.

There are no day passes, so you can only have this “refreshing” unique experience if you are a hotel guest.

 

The Santiago Hotel has the Largest Resort Pool in Palm Springs

Santiago  

The Santiago hotel has a well-deserved reputation as one of the premier small hotels in Palm Springs that caters to gay men. This swimsuit-optional, 24-room boutique hotel is set amid luxurious and meticulously cared-for gardens.

Time for a dip? You can get plenty of exercise, for the Santiago has the largest pool at any Palm Springs resort. Enjoy a poolside lunch and drinks with misters providing the perfect cooling system on hot summer days. Picture swinging in a two-man hammock among the lush garden planted with exotic plants and cacti.  When you look up, you see the majestic mountain views with the occasional cloud dancing on the horizon.

Bonus wow: The Santiago  is the only resort in Palm Springs that includes complementary breakfast, lunch, and refreshments (served all day in the cantina).

Enjoy the tastefully decorated rooms, luxury bath products, and flat-screen TVs. You deserve a stress-free, pampered getaway.

Palm Springs’ busy season is underway, with great events happening during the month of November!

Greater Palm Springs Pride  11/1-3

This popular LGBTQ festival brings the community together for free events that celebrate diversity, equality and solidarity, including live musical performances, a block party and a parade, as well as a number of events that are new this year, including the Art of Pride party at Palm Springs Art Museum (https://www.psmuseum.org/events/art-of-pride-2019) and the Priscilla Queen of the Desert musical at the Palm Canyon Theater in Palm Springs. (http://www.palmcanyontheatre.org/event/341b41a6bbd15534351787458f468456)

http://www/pspride.com

Greater Palm Springs Pride parade

 

Palm Springs Vintage Market  11/3

The monthly Palm Springs Vintage Market, held at the Palm Springs Cultural Center on the first Sunday of the month from October through May, features vintage furniture, decor, art, clothing, jewelry and more from local and national vendors, as well as delicious food (try the Heyday burger!) and live entertainment. http://www.palmspringsvintagemarket.com

Vintage Market

 

Amazing Grace Gospel Brunch  11/9

Enjoy gospel music and brunch (including a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar!) in the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Meyerman Sculpture Garden before heading into the museum’s Annenberg Theater for a special showing of the Aretha Franklin performance documentary, Amazing Grace.

https://www.psmuseum.org/events/amazing-grace?date=2019-11-09

Amazing Grace - Aretha Franklin

 

Alohana: A Palm Springs Celebration of Tiki Culture  11/9

Tiki lovers will not want to miss this new event at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, featuring a tiki marketplace, hula performance and hula lessons, a tiki culture history talk, musical performances, and a special interactive screening of the film “South Pacific.” https://www.eventbrite.com/e/alohana-a-palm-springs-celebration-of-tiki-culture-tickets-75943851103

Alohana flyer

 

Props & Hops Craft Beer Festival  11/23

Props & Hops returns for its eighth annual celebration of craft beer and aircrafts at the Palm Springs Air Museum, featuring beer tastings from local breweries including Desert Beer Company, Coachella Valley Brewing and La Quinta Brewing Co., as well as top breweries from across the country. Attendees can participate in aircraft rides over Palm Springs in vintage planes.

https://palmspringsairmuseum.org/programs/8th-annual-props-hops-craft-beer-festival/

Palm Springs Air Museum Props and Hops Festival

By Mary Farah

Valentine’s Day road trip, anyone? I’m that person who is a sucker for Valentine’s Day. While long gone are the days of exchanging “Be Mine” valentines, I love the chance to get away with my husband. With the pressure of the winter holidays behind us, Palm Springs is an ideal weekend destination for us as we’re under two hours from home in Los Angeles.

Get an Aerial view of Palm Springs 

One of the beauties of a drive out to Palm Springs is hitting the road mid-morning (hit that snooze button one more time) yet arriving in town by the afternoon. A terrific first stop is to the world’s largest rotating tramcar at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

Ascend almost three miles to a gorgeous alpine forest and take in the spectacular views of Mt. San Jacinto State Park as you enjoy an intimate lunch at their Forest View Restaurant, or cocktails at the Lookout Lounge. If you and your honey prefer to get down and dirty with a hike, enjoy over 50 miles of trails.

Check in to ARRIVE

For a unique hotel that’s both modern and personable, look no further than ARRIVE. A 21 and over Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotel, ARRIVE is not your usual hotel. Check-in is at the pool bar, guests can reach the concierge via text, and their pool offers a lively atmosphere often with DJ’s or movie nights.

Best part? On-site at ARRIVE is Wexler’s Deli, a marvelous diner that made it tempting to stay at the hotel and chill on our patio with their smoked meat dishes; Cartel Coffee Lab, making it extremely easy to roll out of bed and get that first cup of caffeine; Draughtsman, an incredible BBQ house that will make you drool and last but not least, Ice Cream and Shop(pe).

With such an impressive option of meals and light bites, it’s no surprise why we love it at ARRIVE.

Other romantic retreat boutique hotels in Palm Springs include:

La Maison: Consistently voted one of the most romantic hotels in the country by TripAdvisor, the beautifully intimate La Maison is a dream getaway.

Dive:  This 11-room resort conjures the timeless style of St. Tropez with its elegant rooms and lush grounds.

La Serena Villas: Originally built in 1933, this romantically historic hotel sits on over an acre of beautiful landscaped grounds in the heart of downtown Palm Springs.

Ingleside Inn offers a special Valentine’s Day brunch and a decadent 3-course dinner menu crafted with love, including live music.

Enjoy a Night “on the town” at the Palm Springs Art Museum

Not only does the Palm Springs Art Museum display a diversity of beautiful art, but also Cabaret and Broadway performances at their Annenberg Theatre. Just in time for Valentine’s Day weekend, enjoy an evening with Broadway performer, Tony Yazbeck. Best known for his Astaire Award-winning and Tony Award-nominated role in On the Town, Yazbeck will be bringing his suave dance moves and smooth vocals to the museum on February 15th, an ideal evening for theatre lovers like myself.

More Evening Fun

Consider Mr. Lyon’s Steakhouse for a cozy meal for two at a candle-lit table, and don’t miss Seymour’s, their speakeasy, open nightly for an expertly crafted cocktail. If you love a great Old Hollywood atmosphere, head on over to the Purple Room. The urban legend is this is the club where an RCA executive first signed Frank Sinatra and the boys to conceive the Rat Pack. Owner of the Purple Room, Michael Holmes, never keeps it dull with weekly performances on stage at the restaurant as Judy Garland and Old Blue Eyes himself.

Where will Valentine’s Day take you in Palm Springs?