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Coachella may be the name on everyone’s lips, but Stagecoach is growing by leaps and bounds. The older fan base is now being joined by Gen Z — after all, good music is good music, am I right? Not to mention, back in 2008 Taylor Swift was on the main stage. That was 16 years ago (I did the math), before she crossed over to pop and goddess status. This year they’ve got Jelly Roll, Willie Nelson, Post Malone, Morgan Wallen, and Miranda Lambert — just five of the 19 performers set to play.

Smaller than Coachella with fewer guy vs. flip flop moments, the Stagecoach Festival is 100 percent about the music, not the celebrities who attend. Because it is smaller than Coachella, traffic won’t be as intense, so you can make it a full-on Old West vibe by staying at one of our historic Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels and resorts and enjoy the best of two worlds.

With traffic, it might take an hour to get to the festival and park, but considering it took me an hour to drive to the Hollywood Bowl and 20 minutes to walk from my L.A. apartment, that’s a breeze. If you’re planning on doing some drinking while you’re there, no problem. We have Uber, Lyft, and Xpress Shuttles, a private shuttle service, all great options so you can keep your license. 

Palm Springs hotels with Stagecoach vibes

Stagecoach is only two months away, so let’s get those rooms booked, shall we? Here’s a roundup of fabulous properties to enhance your Stagecoach experience:

The pool surrounded by lounge chairs at Old Ranch Inn in Palm Springs, California

A sparkling pool awaits at the Old Ranch Inn. Photo courtesy of Old Ranch Inn

Old Ranch Inn — Eight luxurious rooms, Old West feel, new west luxury. Kitchenettes. From their website: “Old Ranch Inn sits in the heart of the historic Tennis Club area and is steps away from the downtown Palm Springs village. The Tennis Club area has a long and fascinating history with Hollywood celebrities, politicians, statesmen, and infamous world travelers who made Palm Springs their personal desert hideaway.”

A quaint bungalow with a tile roof at Casa Cody boutique hotel in Palm Springs, California

Casa Cody is the oldest standing inn in Palm Springs. Photo courtesy of Casa Cody

Casa Cody — Built in the 1930s, Casa Cody is the oldest standing inn in Palm Springs. Rich in history with gorgeous grounds, it’s a wonderful place to rejuvenate after a day of party. Centrally located and just steps away from downtown Palm Springs, all the great restaurants are walkable, yet your nights will be peaceful and quiet.

Coyote Inn's courtyard with palms and potted cacti

The Coyote Inn’s peaceful courtyard is always open to guests. Photo courtesy of Coyote Inn

Coyote Inn — Fireplace, hot tub, kitchenettes, walled and gated for ultimate privacy. Construction was in 1953, old Spanish Mission style. With seven rooms it’s your own little hideaway. It’s absolutely adorable.

The exterior of Hotel California in Palm Springs, California, with a palm tree in front of it

Welcome to the Hotel California. Photo courtesy of Hotel California

Hotel California — Unlike the hotel in the song, you can absolutely leave. The question is, why would you want to? You’ll have to peel yourself away from the rustic quaintness. Sparkling pool, all the peace. On the south end of Palm Springs, walk to Elmers, Mr. Lyons, Gigi’s, El Mirasol, and So•Pa (if you’re very fancy). 

The outside of the lobby at The Lucille Palm Springs with colorful tile and windows

The Lucille Palm Springs has beautiful tile work throughout the property. Photo courtesy of The Lucille Palm Springs

Lucille Palm Springs — Built in 1921, reimagined in 2024, its stark white exterior is kinda Santorini in Palm Springs but instead of the ocean you get a big gorgeous pool and kitchenettes. Named in honor of Lucille Ball, a longtime fan of the property back in the day.

The white building welcoming guests to the Yara Hotel in Palm Springs, California

Yara Hotel is one of the newest boutique hotels to open in Palm Springs. Photo courtesy of Yara Hotel

Yara Hotel — Some call it Spanish but to me it’s Moroccan with nice splashes of modern. Another smaller hotel, rent all 10 rooms and get the place to yourself. It’s pretty cool.

Black Adirondack chairs surround the blazing fire pit during an evening at Hotel El Cid in Palm Springs

Gather round the fire pit for an unforgettable desert night. Photo courtesy of Hotel El Cid

Hotel El Cid — From their website: “We designed El Cid to accommodate only one select group at a time. Six completely new, bungalow style units (a total of seven bedrooms and seven bathrooms) offer polished concrete floors, lots of leather and reclaimed wood, and a fun, California boho style. Most units offer living and dining areas and kitchenettes with wine fridges. All have fast internet and extra large 4K TVs.”

If you haven’t gotten your Stagecoach tix yet, you can use that link I just gave you. And if they’re sold out by the time you read this, then just come visit Palm Springs for a spell. Stagecoach isn’t the only party in town! 

If you thought Palm Springs becomes a ghost town during the summer, think again.

Picture relaxing evenings poolside, dinners, and parties with your friends, watching the sun go down behind our rugged mountains. Wouldn’t you like to be assured you’ll have sun during your vacation, not rain? 

Packing a suitcase for Palm Springs

Here’s the good news: Let’s say you took a chance and bought a plane ticket that only allows a carry-on bag. You’ll be just fine, as your clothing needs will be minimal during a summer visit. 

Palm Springs residents pride themselves on hip, colorful, casual dressing, even when going to the grocery or hardware store. Nothing fancy, just bright and comfortable. A suggestion: Go through your closet and pull out the most colorful summer clothes you own. Many people like to wear black on airplanes — I learned long ago that spills don’t show up on black tops — but once you land in Palm Springs, it’s likely the last time you’ll be dressed this way during your stay.

Yes, gentlemen, you can pull out the Hawaiian shirts languishing in the far corner of your closet. Palm Springs residents seek out vintage Hawaiian shirts, so you can be assured you’re in style no matter when you acquired them. 

Clothes waiting to be packed. Photo credit: elCarito on Unsplash

Shorts, dresses, or slacks?

It is a matter of choice. However, after living here for eight years, I have concluded that flowing, loose dresses are more comfortable, since they can catch the occasional summer breeze that unexpectedly surfaces. Leave the polyester ones behind; you want a fabric that breathes. 

The summer attire for men in Palm Springs is shorts. Yes, they can be colorful. Again, it’s time for you to break out of your conservative attire. Let loose here. You will blend in instead of sticking out in the crowd. 

Evening attire

It depends on what activity you are doing after the sun sets. Poolside, anything goes, so don’t stress. 

You may have already learned that making reservations for most restaurants is necessary, even in the middle of summer. Palm Springs is known for its varied cuisine, and Coachella Valley residents are also vying for reservations in some of our more popular restaurants. 

Ladies, the evening allows you to bring out a special dress, which might include rhinestones or some sparkle. You should bring along a shawl, since some restaurants crank up their air conditioning.

Gentlemen, here are a few guidelines for you: At some of our high-profile restaurants, like Melvyn’s at the Ingleside Inn, slacks and a shirt with a collar are required. Ties, however, are not, although if you decide to don one with a jacket, you certainly will fit into the setting. (I know, a double standard.) Women can wear dress sandals, but no sandals for men; sorry, they don’t want to see your toes. 

You’ll want to grab a drink or two at Melvyn’s bar. Photo courtesy of Ingleside Inn

Give caftans a chance

You may be surprised by the number of colorful caftans you see in our valley. Designers Sheri Johnson, Aneka Brown, and Trina Turk have helped make caftans — loose, draped garments — a staple in the wardrobes of both Palm Springs men and women. During your vacation, you might want to find a caftan to try on and see how freeing it feels to wear one. (I checked — both men and women can wear a caftan to Melvyn’s. Sorry, fellas, they still don’t want you to wear sandals with it, so closed-toed shoes need to stay on your packing list.)

Two places where you might need warmer clothes

If you’ve never been up to the San Jacinto Mountains via the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, you’ll want to schedule this experience. Make sure you get tickets in advance. 

Keep in mind, the tram drops you off at 8,516 feet, and the temperature can be up to 40 degrees cooler than the desert floor. More than one person has spent time shivering up there because no one told them to take an extra layer of clothes. 

The nearby mountain town of Idyllwild is another spot for a wonderful day trip. Known for its artistic influences, Idyllwild can also be cooler than you anticipated, so an extra layer just in case is recommended. 

Don’t leave home without these items

Sunscreen should be foremost on your list. Our sun in the summer can be pretty intense — even in the morning, the rays are bouncing off your skin. Quick reminder: Be sure to put sunscreen on your ears.

Your eyes will be happy you bought those new, chic designer sunglasses — glasses coupled with a hat will help protect you on your adventures. 

If you don’t have a reusable water bottle, you’ll have many opportunities to purchase one at attractions across Palm Springs. Because of the heat, carrying a water bottle with you at all times is a must. 

If you plan on spending any time in a pool or spa, throw a bathing suit in your suitcase — or two, for good measure.

Palm Springs is open for business, and we look forward to you exploring our community. Book a reservation at one of our Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels as soon as your vacation dates are set, and get started planning your adventure.

All packed and ready to go. Photo credit: brianamatopoeia

“Too much of a good thing is wonderful.” — Liberace

When you Google “best gay cities,” my results did not include one single listicle mentioning Palm Springs. What? People, our entire city council is LGBTQIA, and from Wikipedia’s entry for Gay Village: “An estimated 33 to 50 percent of Palm Springs, California, are gay male or other parts of the LGBTQ community; this statistic makes them the largest percentage community in the US.”

In 2016, Palm Springs received a final score of 100 points in the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index Scorecard. Our city exceeded the highest possible final score of 100 with a raw score of 109, and we’ve kept that score through their last report of 2020.

Speaking of the ’20s, 100 years ago, Palm Springs began its journey as a playground for celebrities and the LGBTQ+ community thanks to Dr. Florilla White and her sister Cornelia. The two “independent and eccentric women” (code: lesbian) purchased the Palm Springs Hotel and spiffed it up a bit. Rudolph Valentino spent his second honeymoon there (it was escandalo!), and Greta Garbo demanded the premiere of Camille be held at the new Plaza Theater while she stayed at the hotel. Side note: if it weren’t for the founding mothers of Palm Springs (the White Sisters, Nellie Coffman, Lois Kellog —she was a wild one! — and Pearl McCallum McManus), it might still be a dusty little town. And the Cahuilla likely wouldn’t be where they are today without the 1950s all-women tribal council. Historically, in Palm Springs, men beat the drum of awareness while the women quietly made history. Sisters, amirite?

Liberace.

Palm Springs is so gay Liberace, Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, Barry Manilow and gay icons Cher and Carol Channing had/have homes here. Not to mention the other “maybe they were, maybe there weren’t” plethora of stars. Although there is speculation, it doesn’t really matter, because Palm Springs has always offered personal privacy. No one is getting “outed” if they don’t want to be out.

Courtesy of CV Independent

In the 1980s, two anti-gay and AIDS-related bills were soundly trounced and, according to a 2017 article in Palm Springs Life, in 1991 club owner Gloria Green opened the first gay bar on Arenas Road, A Streetbar Named Desire (now known as Streetbar). I qualify that with the Palm Springs Life article because most accounts attribute the bar to Dick Haskamp and Hank Morgan, who apparently purchased it in the same year. So something is a little sketchy about the origins — however, Arenas would soon build up to become an all-gay city block with clubs and stores catering to gay men.

Pride was first celebrated in Palm Springs with a showcase called Sizzle. It wasn’t well received or advertised, and Sizzle fizzled out until 1992. By 1997, The Desert Sun estimated 30,000 people watched the (now) Pride parade.

Our gayness isn’t limited to Arenas. Oscar’s is alive almost every night with gay-leaning entertainment and Sundays is all about celebrating your gayness at the T-Dance. You can hear the party from blocks away.

We have so many drag queens they could hold court for an entire generation of royals, and they’re damn fine. Late night entertainment at The Copa and Toucans include long-running drag shows that pack the rooms, and drag brunches abound in our exceptionally inviting cozy town.

The San Francisco establishment of transgender performers AsiaSF chose Palm Springs as its second home. They opened just before the pandemic, and I’m told will reopen again in November — maybe December — of this year. I went to the opening in early 2020 (before you know what): these ladies are hot AF.

Some of the finest dining in Palm Springs is brought to you by gay restaurateurs. Roly China Fusion, Tropicale, Eight4Nine, Trio, PS Underground (an exciting take on dinner theater), The Purple Room (supper club), and 533 Viet Fusion to name just a few not on Arenas.

Desert Rose Playhouse is the one and only LGBTQ theater company and venue in the Coachella Valley. Now in Palm Springs proper at the old Zelda’s Nightclub space, they produce, support and elevate LGBTQ stories, actors, playwrights, and musicians. I have never been disappointed by their productions. So far this year I have seen The Great American Trailer Park Musical and Rocky Horror, and have tickets to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch. It’s a great space with a great vibe and the shows are delicious.

We have an LGBTQ+ community center, PFLAG (for supporters), and a retirement community for gays called Stonewall Gardens. We have two gay radio stations, the Gay Desert Guide, and the Palm Springs Cultural Center, with a mixture of artsy blockbusters and showcasing gay-themed films.

If you check out our website (already sorted for you!), you’ll find we have 11 resort hotels catering to gay men, some clothing optional. The Warm Sands area is generously dotted with gay boutique hotels.

One of my favorite things that hasn’t yet returned in the pandemic is our star drag queen Bella da Ball (aka Brian Wanzek) reading stories to kids at the Palm Springs Library. Bella even has her own star on our Walk of Stars.

There’s DAP, Desert AIDS Project, a terrific medical establishment that not only caters to gays living with AIDS but also administers to MediCal patients. I was on MediCal for a bit and they provide stellar care (I was sad when my insurance switched). They also run the resale stores Revivals which have terrific bargains on gently-used items, and some brand-new stuff too. Profits benefit DAP.

And of course there is the big event, Palm Springs Pride.

Some “must” events sent to me by Bella Da Ball:

November 1, 6 to 7 p.m.: George Zander Candlelight Vigil and March, 101 N. Museum Dr.

Beginning at the new downtown park (Museum Way and Museum Drive), this rally and march is in honor of George Zander. Six years ago to the day, George and Chris Zander were attacked in downtown Palm Springs, resulting in George’s death on December 10, 2015. This remembrance of George’s life keeps his memory alive, so that no other individual falls victim to a crime of hate.

November 7, 5 to 10 p.m.: Effen Vodka main stage, near the Hyatt Hotel on North Palm Canyon Drive. Party. Huge stage. Special video screens.

But wait, there’s even more eye candy than the parade! On November 5 and 6, enjoy the West Coast premiere of Global Rainbow by American artist Yvette Mattern. Specially designed lasers project a large-scale abstraction of a natural rainbow (the same colors in Gilbert Baker’s rainbow flag) celebrating the diverse LGBTQ+ communities and symbolizing hope and peace. Beamed high above Palm Canyon Drive at Amado Road, as far as the eye can see, until finally diminishing to a colorful glow over South Palm Canyon.  

Hitting the stage on November 5:

5:30 p.m. — Charles Herrera 

6 p.m. — Steven Michael’s Dance Machine, dancers, flaggers, drag

6:15 p.m. — Jason Stuart

6:30 p.m. — Shannon 

7:15 p.m. — Sassy Ross

7:30 p.m. — Jeanie Tracy

8 p.m. — Jody Watley

8:45 p.m. — The Perry Twins

The unadulterated joy and magic the Palm Springs LGBTQ+ community brings to our little town is unparalleled. That’s right, I said it: unparalleled.

Not gay? No one cares, we are a mecca for all who want to be included…unless you’re homophobic, then according to the website Abodo, you should vacation in Buffalo, New York.

See you at Pride!

“I used to jog, but the ice cubes kept falling out of my glass.” — David Lee Roth

Buckle up, the party is still going in Palm Springs this March with the Red Dress/Dress Red Party (sold out), the BNP Paribas Open, film festivals, free concerts, art festivals, and tiki time. And that’s just for starters.

The weather is outstanding, so you’ll likely be out, but not standing (I’m groaning with you). The Tahquitz Canyon waterfall is flowing, but if you’re gonna do the hike, go early. It was already kinda crowded when I went at 8 a.m., and by the time we left they weren’t letting anyone up or in the lot to park. As gorgeous as Tahquitz Canyon is, if that happens to you, Indian Canyons has more trails, so it won’t be as crowded. It is also stunning. I think there is at least one trail with a waterfall, and there are snakes, rattlers in particular, so don’t hike with the headphones on. Keep the channels to your ears open. 

Let’s get to the things, then we’ll chat about a few other things.

What’s happening in Palm Springs this March

March 2: Wine tasting at Bouschet — Great little shop in south downtown, just past Ramon where Indian and Palm Canyons do the Beatles thing and come together. They also serve food, and PS Air Bar is just a ramp up to the second floor. 

March 3: Vintage Market — The first Sunday of every month from October through May. Vendors from all over come to sell their mid-mod wares. There’s a small fee to get in, but there are also food options and sometimes entertainment.

March 5: Movies in the ParkGoonies, at Downtown Park next to Marilyn. Free!

March 6: Rock the Park — ABBA tribute band, at Downtown Park next to Marilyn. Free!

March 7: Billy Dee Williams meet and greet opportunity and book signing at Palm Springs Cultural Center. Williams’ memoir, What Have We Here?, was published in February. The book will be available to purchase during the event. VIP attendees will receive a copy and be the only ones able to get their books signed. Meet and greet at 6 p.m., main event at 7:30 p.m.

March 9 and 10: Palm Springs Art Festival at Frances Stevens Park on Alejo, Indian Canyon, and Palm Canyon. We’ve got really good artists, check it out after breakfast.

March 21-25: Sean Penn will open AmDocs at Palm Springs Cultural Center. It’s the place to be for all the documentaries and animated films, in the best cinema for hundreds of miles. 

March 21-23: Just a heads up — the Spring Cue Convention, a teachers convention, is in town. Last time this happened everything was packed, so make reservations for restaurants when you book your hotel stay at one of our small hotels. There are a lot of conventions in March, but this one is BIG.

March 27: Family Fun Fest at Palm Springs Power Baseball Stadium. Games, activities, and lots of information and giveaways.  9 a.m. to noon, outside, at the Palm Springs Stadium. 

March 31: Alohana at Palm Springs Cultural Center

Palm Springs Air Museum — March 1, 20, 27: Explore cutting-edge aviation at the exclusive Darkstar Rising Experience. Step into the realm of the iconic aircraft, straight from the minds of Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works.

Ongoing entertainment venues

V Wine Lounge: Live entertainment and karaoke Wednesdays.

Purple Room: Weekday happy hour and local music, weekends are ticketed events.

PS Underground: Themed dinner shows with some of Palm Springs’ finest entertainers. Lots of laughs, great food, great music, new friends.

PS Air Bar: It’s in an airplane! Okay, not really, but it feels like it. Kitschy and fun, it’s a must.

Mixed bag of tricks

The Revolution Stage Company: Everything from Avenue Q, new musicals, new plays, and cabaret. This is Palm Springs’ hottest new theatrical adventure.

Palm Springs Cultural Center:

Broadway Best of the West — Big names in the big theatre.

Movies — Screwball comedies and more.

Live entertainment — Music upstairs, two theaters: The Bent (back in April) and Desert Ensemble Theatre.

Oscar’s: Jack Donahue on March 21

Drag brunches

Oscar’s Bitchiest Brunch

Reforma — Beyonce, Britney Spears/Kesha, and Lady Gaga Drag Shows on Saturdays

PS Air Bar — Broadway Boozy Brunch served in a mock airplane. Emcee Tod Macofsky

March Madness 

If you’re into sports, there are a few places to watch the games: 

Hair of the Dog

360 Sports Palm Springs located in the Agua Caliente Casino

Fireside Lounge

Smokin’ Burgers

Shamrock’s Irish Pub

Looking out for the lesbians

Palm Springs has been a real dust bowl when it comes to lesbian events. This month we’ve got two! (Although not dedicated events, Monday and Tuesday nights at V Wine Lounge have a large, fun lesbian crowd.)

March 7: Lez Out Comedy at The Revolution Stage Company. Comedian Mina Hartong brings her comedic talents to the RSC with host Max Mitchell and featured comedian Amanda Michelle.

March 17: Sunday Ladies T-Dance at Low Desert from 3 to 7 p.m.

Tours

Desert Tasty Tours — A 3-hour tour, six spots, art walk, and Palm Springs history from fun, friendly and informed guides.

Palm Springs Historical Society — Walking tours, biking Tours, private tours (car).

Legends and Icons of Palm Springs Bus Tour — This is through Five Star Adventures. Their website is a mess, so I sent you to TripAdvisor. You’re welcome.

Jeep Tour — Get in a Jeep and tour the San Andreas Fault lines. In their words: “Experience the twisted and tortured landscape of an active earthquake fault system as your guide describes the geology of the area and you explore the bones of the earth. Don’t forget your camera — the photo opportunities are endless.”

There’s also Village Fest (a diverse array of artists, artisans, entertainers, and purveyors of fresh fruits and veggies, flowers, jewelry, snacks and sweets) every Thursday. We shut down Palm Canyon from Amado to Baristo so you can walk our streets free of those pesky cars from 6 to 10 p.m. Plenty of street vendors, buskers, and all the shops and restaurants are open, too. If you’re a fan of museums and art, the Palm Springs Art Museum is free from 5 to 8 p.m. Don’t forget to pay homage to Marilyn, and check out The Muse Cafe in the museum for a bite to eat. 

News alerts

The Pantry at Holiday House launched brunch service on its sunny patio with a South of France flair. Executive Chef Shawn Applin has created a sweet and savory menu and it pairs perfectly with a special selection of rosé wines and Champagnes. Highlights include the photogenic and delicious Shellfish Plateau for sharing, Dutch baby pancakes, fried chicken and waffle, ricotta-stuffed French toast, and much more.

Served Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  

It’s BNP Paribas Open time March 3-17, so if you’re preparing to step out down valley, plan for extra time. 

Coachella is in April followed by Stagecoach.

When you come visit (and you will), please stay, shop, and eat local. (That means local food — please do not eat the locals. You’ll find us a little dry.) Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels has over 70 choices of excellent hotels and resorts, each a different experience with a variety of price points. Check them out here.

See you next month! 

Day tripping is a fun way to get out and play at some of the super cool spots around Palm Springs. That’s what Dwight D. Eisenhower did in 1954, when he slipped away for many hours under the cover of having an emergency dental appointment. It is speculated that he was taken to Edwards Air Force base to talk to some aliens. The tall gray ones called Nordics

Believe it or not, we do have some actual history with “space aliens” — and I’m not talking about the energy vortex of Desert Hot Springs, where many have claimed to have had UFO sightings. Although now that I think about it, that counts.

What I am talking about is the Integratron, located an hour outside of Palm Springs in a town called Landers. The Integratron was built by George Van Tassel, and funded, it is said, by Howard Hughes. Van Tassel claimed he got the plans from Venusians, aka inhabitants of Venus. He claims the Integratron was capable of rejuvenation, anti-gravity, and time travel.

Integratron

The Integratron. Photo by Kay Kudukis

Today it is used as a sound bath, and it’s fabulous — 45 minutes of quartz singing bowls played at different frequencies while you lay on a mat with your eyes closed. Rejuvenating. I grew a whole new limb. (No, I didn’t. That’s regenerating, and another story.) Go a little early and check out the gift shop and hang out in their outdoor area. It’s pretty sweet.

Not far away is Giant Rock, an ancient tribal ritual site where Van Tassel held Interplanetary Space Conventions to raise money to keep building the Integratron. You can read the whole fascinating story at The Mojave Project.

The Integratron is booked waaaaay in advance, but if you do get in, on your way back to Palm Springs stop for a bite at the world-famous Pappy and Harriet’s.

Behind Pappy and Harriet’s is an old Hollywood Western film set called Pioneertown. You’ll feel like you traveled back in time to the Wild, Wild West (not the Will Smith movie, that was baaad.) There’s even a staged shoot ’em up at high noon.

The Salton Sea: It smells. Real bad. But there are reasons to go. It has a great history with the Hollywood types, and there’s actually stuff to do. Sheephole Oasis (thumbs down to the naming committee) and Hidden Springs are said to have a nice bloom of wildflowers.

The Salton Sea at sunset. Photo by Catherine Garcia

While you’re in the area, check out the art installation known as Salvation Mountain, then continue on to Borrego Springs for lunch, art, and scads of hikes.

Joshua Tree: I’m sure Joshua Tree is on your list already. It’s a national park so there is a fee to enter, but it’s hella worth it. If you happen to be there on April 22 or 23, there will be a free concert called SoundcheckEarth. Warning: The rocks are higher than you think. Do not jump off them. Someone I know may have done this. It may have been me.

Joshua Tree National Park. Photo by Catherine Garcia

Idyllwild, Lake Arrowhead, and Big Bear Lake: All adorable mountain towns that are great little day jaunts.

Whitewater Preserve: Very short ride down a very long road to a very secluded place with a ranger’s station/museum, beautiful picnic areas, a natural wading pool, and a longer hike to the swimming hole. Very relaxing day.

Redlands: Less than an hour from Palm Springs is the adorable city of Redlands. Lots of old architecture, and this article tells you all about the museums, theaters, parks, and places to eat. They seem to like making beer here — there are quite a few little breweries around town.

Umbrellas provide shade and public art in downtown Redlands. Photo by Catherine Garcia

This last one is going to take all day, but if you’re into ghost towns, Calico is where you want to go. There’s an old railroad, a mine, and more. It’s a regional park so you do have to pay to get spooked. Dress in layers.

And that’s all I’ve got for you this time. Hope you enjoy your stay in one of our chill boutique resorts, and that no matter where you go, you have a gas.

Stay cool everyone, and keep on keeping on.

Big Bear Lake. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Palm Springs’ newest boutique resort for men exceeded all of my expectations. 

Descanso Resort is a fully refurbished and thoughtfully reimagined Palm Springs paradise with a “California garden patio” motif that somehow manages to weave its way through every detail of your experience. And after my recent three-day staycation there, I’m almost giddy to report that it’s brimming with pleasant surprises.

Spoiler alert: if you want to first experience these surprises in person, you should stop reading here.

Gregory Douglass and Glen Nadeau at Descanso Resort. Photo credit: Gregory Douglass

Much like its brother Palm Springs property Santiago Resort, there is an immediate sense of familiarity as soon as you arrive. The property’s 16 charming suites wrap around you like a much-needed hug from a friend you haven’t seen in ages. The Descanso website proclaims General Manager Kent Taylor and his team “hold advanced degrees in pampering,” so you know you’re in for a treat.

If you check in before your room is ready, you’re actually in luck. Go ahead and lounge by (or in) their saltwater swimming pool, heated to a perfect 90 degrees at all times. You can also enjoy their saltwater spa, rinse down in the outdoor shower, or just retreat under the light mist of their outdoor cooling system. There’s even a communal fire pit to enjoy if the desert heat (or your fellow gaycationers) aren’t hot enough for you already.

The Descanso Resort’s pool area. Photo credit: Gregory Douglass

Every poolside guest lounger has a fresh beach towel, rolled up like a bright green tube pillow. You won’t need a swimsuit either, because clothing is optional here. The 24-hour cantina is always stocked with snacks and beverages — picture a perfect Arnold Palmer and various coffee options, depending on your taste. It’s a Type A personality’s paradise.

The Pamper Patrol (aka the Descanso team) will happily hold your bags while you are busy melting into your favorite new desert oasis. Once your room is ready, you’ll have forgotten you were even waiting for it.

As you might have guessed, my husband Glen Nadeau and I arrived an hour before our room was ready. As we lingered by the pool, I sensed an unpretentious sophistication that made me feel like I could finally take a breath. In English, the Spanish word “Descanso” means “break,” as in “you deserve a break,” so I’ve since learned that was exactly how I was supposed to feel.

Descanso guests can enjoy iced tea or lemonade throughout the day. Photo credit: Gregory Douglass

When we checked into our Balcony Suite, we were met with flush views of the majestic San Jacinto mountains and the Descanso’s magnificent landscaping, consisting of Mexican flame bushes, birds-of-paradise, lime trees, and vines that envelop the hotel’s exterior. Every detail of Descanso is old Hollywood architecture meets mid-century modern decor, but the landscaping is truly the focal point, serving you lush greenery that looks like it is painting an elegant white canvas. Various shades of green are the only “pop” colors that accent Descanso’s interior motif, echoing the symphony of greenery like a standing ovation.

The suite amenities include all you would expect of a place this deliberate — each room has a king-sized bed, Gilchrest & Soames luxury bath products, a mini portable fan, complimentary snacks and water, and a couch you can sleep on (should you have any expected — or unexpected — guests). There was even a “book” by the bed that opened to reveal a small treasure box containing some fun adult amenities for your (or his) pleasure.

The treasure box. Photo credit: Gregory Douglass

After settling into our room, it was time for a complimentary “stay & splash” poolside lunch, provided by Aspen Mills Bakery. We could have then meandered around the neighborhood on Descanso’s complimentary bicycles, exploring the many restaurants and shops in the Palm Springs Uptown District, but we decided to stay poolside to see what else we had in store.

It wasn’t long before someone from the Pamper Patrol circled around the pool, offering each guest a popsicle from a silver platter (literally and figuratively speaking) to accompany their retreat. Soon after, the same rotation served a tray of rolled up frozen washcloths that had been dipped in eucalyptus, and I spent 10 blissful minutes breathing in the cool arctic vapors.

Descanso Resort General Manager Kent Taylor. Photo credit: Gregory Douglass

As the sun changed position, so did the shade. But since Descanso’s lily-white umbrellas are also on wheels, the shade was always in reach. There’s even a bathroom within steps of the pool, with framed swimwear hanging on the walls (you can find this signature look in every bathroom at the resort). All of the property’s artwork is stunning, but the swimwear upstages its company because of its unexpected uniqueness, almost implying that bathing suits should remain a relic here.

When I finally dipped in the pool, it was difficult to get out. The salt water absolutely blankets you with minerals, acting like a natural moisturizer as opposed to the skin-drying effects of its evil stepsister (a.k.a. chlorinated water).

Once I retired to the outdoor saltwater spa, I had a simmering feeling that there were still subtle surprises around every corner. Sure enough, I looked down at the small rocks surrounding the tub and caught a glimpse of this one lone stone wearing a pair of painted underwear.

An unexpected rock at Descanso Resort. Photo credit: Gregory Douglass

As potential new friends began to get friendlier throughout the evening, I couldn’t wait for what other pleasant surprises the night would reveal. But that’s a story for another time.

We’ve been watching the weather and see snowflakes are starting to fly in many parts of the country. While we’re not fortune tellers, we can tell you a sure way to avoid some of the winter snow: come visit Palm Springs, California, where the sun shines 350 days a year. 

Our pools are heated, and most assuredly, you will find palm trees nearby to take the perfect picture to send back home to your friends. If you want a cocktail in your hand for the photo while you are relaxing, that can be arranged, too.

We may be a little prejudiced, but we think one of our more than 70 boutique hotels will meet the vision you had in your head of a winter getaway. The official definition of a boutique hotel is 50 rooms or less. However, when you start looking, you will discover Palm Springs has many small hotels with under 20 rooms. One of the more intimate hotels was once the home of movie star Gloria Swanson. Now called Amin Casa, it has one studio; four private bungalows with full kitchens, living areas, and bedrooms; and Swanson’s original residence, a premier space with a grand living area and historic stone fireplace.

Our Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels website is the place to start your exploration, and here’s why:

1. Honest descriptions of our hotels

Journalists and travel writers have written the descriptions of our hotels, so you won’t read hyped-up marketing speak on our site. We strive to tell it like it is and often interview the property managers and owners, so what you read is what you can expect to experience once you arrive at your hotel.

The beautiful pool at Amin Casa. Photo courtesy of Amin Casa

2. A search tool that works

Whether you’re looking for a gay men’s clothing-optional resort, a hotel where you can bring your dog, or a property with a spa, all you have to do is put the specific term in our search bar and you’ll find what you’re looking for. Speaking of bringing your pup to Palm Springs, this is a very dog-friendly town, and you can take Fido just about everywhere. It’s not unheard of to arrive at a hotel and see a welcome sign waiting for Fido at the registration desk. By the way — be ready to find water bowls in front of storefronts and cashiers asking if your dog can have one of the treats carefully hidden behind the counter. 

3. Dining and shopping recommendations from insiders

With no empty storefronts, this town is thriving, and new shops are enticing visitors and residents alike. Our Boutiquely Palm Springs blog may help you decide where to start, but be aware that it can be hard even for locals to keep up with our ever-changing town, so you may discover some locally owned shops that just popped up.

Our food scene is also attracting some of the finest chefs in the nation, who know sophisticated foodies from all over the world flock to Palm Springs — and they are not about to disappoint. Our bloggers are writing in depth about restaurants and chefs, making our site is an excellent place to start researching restaurants that serve your favorite cuisine.

Everyone — dogs included — love shopping in Palm Springs. Photo courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

4. Extensive event guides to find out what’s happening in town

With the busy season starting, you will want to check out the many attractions open and special events taking place in our city during your stay. Our blog has comprehensive articles about everything from Pride and Modernism Week to the best hiking trails in the desert. In addition, you will find articles written about lesser-known places you might want to visit.

5. Maps to show you the way

The Palm Springs International Airport is only about two miles from downtown. The Coachella Valley, home to Palm Springs and eight other cities, is 45 miles long, and some destinations are pretty far from the airport — Indio, for example, is 20 miles away. If you’re not renting a car, you can see why our proximity to the airport is a superb reason to stay nearby. The Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels website has a map that shows all of our hotels in relation to the airport, as well as landmarks, attractions, and neighborhoods.

Cruising up to the Palm Springs International Airport in style. Photo courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

There is so much to explore in our area, and some planning can help ensure you have a stress-free vacation. Doesn’t it sound easy to sit in your comfy chair at home, favorite drink in hand, and use our Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels website to plan your dream vacation?

“Last night you were unhinged. You were like some desperate, howling demon. You frightened me. Do it again.” — The Addams Family

Halloween is a great time to spend the weekend in Palm Springs. The weather is cooler, but not cold, and the food and entertainment are hot! Also, if you weren’t already aware, Halloween is a HUGE deal here in Palm Springs. Arenas is all about creativity in costumes, music, drinks and reverie — it’s quite the kiki.

Halloween is so big in LGBTQ+ culture that it’s called Gay Christmas. And on Arenas it is FUN, it is FABULOUS, it’s a CELEBRATION, and it is PAGEANTRY! It is a scene, baby!

A writer for The Advocate had some musings about why Halloween is such a big deal in gay culture and hoo boy, they were pretty dark, and not in a spooky way but in a way that sucks all of the gaiety out of fright night. So we’re not going to focus on the hocus pocus and go with another suggestion from him that rings true, “Halloween is the one time of year when everyone is allowed to be whoever they want to be.” That gets a bubbling, piping hot cauldron full of “yes!”

If you’re not gay, who cares? Everyone is welcome everywhere. For those who have an aversion to crowds, and it will be crowded on Arenas, there’s still plenty’o-ween to be had in smaller doses.

(If you’d like to read a detailed history about Halloween and Gay Christmas go here. Or you can come back to it after you read about all the spooktacular ((sorry)) goings on in Palm Springs 2022).

Halloween revelers in Palm Springs. Photo credit: Kay Kudukis

Party in the U.S. Gay:

Oct. 30: Arenas Halloween  — There is SO much to do and see, you’re going to have to click the link and check it out. If you don’t wear a costume, you can still go, but you’ll feel horribly out of place. Here are some shopping spots to find your spooky boo you. Or just find a fun mask.

Oct. 12, 19, and 26: A Classic TV Halloween at Quadz. On Oct. 19th, stop by for 1970’s HORROR FILMS: A Nod to The Classics in Palm Springs, or check out The History of Horror/Scariest Short Films Part 2 on Oct. 26. 

Oct. 20: Hey Boo! at Oscar’s, is described as such: “Heklina, international drag queen extraordinaire, will be ‘HELLina’ with her spooky parody songs and hocus-pocus tales. Heklina’s spine-chilling performance will remind you that this podcaster, actor, emcee and ghost buster is more than just a pretty face. Deven Green & Ned Douglas are the boniest award-winning performers this side of purgatory. Brought back from the dead for one night only, their live music and songs with inscrutable words will make you soil yourself with frightful laughter.”

Families with kids

Oct. 29: Spooktacular Halloween – Rancho Mirage Library — Enjoy an afternoon of trick-or-treating and a costume parade through the library. Christopher T. Magician will also be on hand to perform his Halloween magic show in the Community Room. 1 to 4 p.m.

Oct. 29 and 30: Howl-O-Ween at the Living Desert. Kids are encouraged to dress up in their favorite costumes and enjoy one of the many exciting activities planned for the weekend, including more than 20 trick-or-treat stations, a monster maze, pumpkin bowling, pumpkin decorating, animal encounters, meeting Living Desert zoo mascots, storytelling, face-painting, bounce houses, craft workshops, and more. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This event is free with paid park admission.

Oct. 30: Cathedral City Spooktacular — This free event features trick-or-treating with more than 40,000 pieces of candy. Kids will have a spooktacular time participating in activities like Halloween costume contests (two bikes are being given away each hour), police and fire exhibitions, and games. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Charity events

Oct. 8: House Party For A Cause — $100 but well worth it. Debbie Boone (the ’80s), Steve Knill (The Voice), Alix Korey (Broadway) and my favorite, DJ ModGirl.

Oct. 30: Be a Hero For Kids — If you’ve got a little bit deeper pockets, check out this event presented by The Boys and Girls Club of Palm Springs. It’s poolside!

All the rest

Escape Room — Vampire’s Lair, Jack The Ripper, and Merlin’s Magic Room are three of the spooky adventures awaiting you and your besties. The object? Just like Jordan Peele’s scary film: Get Out.

Oct. 16, 20, and 27: Palm Springs Cultural Center — Tim Burton “festival” with Ed Wood, Beetlejuice, and Nightmare Before Christmas. If you didn’t know, PSCC/Camelot Theatre has a 58′ screen, and the finest projection capabilities in the valley. It’s truly an experience to see a film in this theater.

Oct. 28: The Hilton’s Palm Springs Halloween Comedy Mashup.

Oct. 28, 29, and 31: PS Underground “Bite: Vampire Circus” — Always a frightful night in the best possible way. It changes every year, but it’s always wonderful. From the top-notch entertainment to the fantastic food to complement the evening. Expect the unexpected.

Oct. 29:  Mogo Silent Disco Monster Mash — Dance like nobody’s watching (even though they all are, because you’re dancing down the street to curated music with a bunch of people wearing headphone). Always fun.

Stay safe, buddy up, take rideshares, and don’t forget to hydrate. Love, A Witchy Woman

Creative Halloween costumes abound in Palm Springs. Photo credit: Kay Kudukis

You know your idea is successful when locals and visitors alike ask if Desert X is happening in the Coachella Valley again this year. With fanfare, we can proudly say the fourth Desert X is not only alive and well, it once again has produced some outstanding art installations definitely worth planning a weekend trip to check them out.

Many of our terrific Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels said their occupancy rate increased immediately after Desert X announced it was taking place March 4 through May 7, 2023. Our boutique hotels, with all their different vibes, are helping people find the perfect atmosphere to launch their journeys to discover the art installations.

What is Desert X? 

This biennial event is an exhibition of 10 art installations throughout our desert landscape. Through a juried process, international and local artists were selected from their portfolios and invited to participate. Desert X identified a theme for 2023 that focuses on how we design our environments and live, which may or may not serve our world well. With the theme in mind, the selection committee hosts the artists and takes them to locations across the Coachella Valley that are accessible to the public and suitable for art to be installed.

How do you find the art installations?  

Physical maps are available at the Ace Hotel. You can also download a map from the Desert X website. If you want to rely on your phones, here are the apps for Desert X for both iOS and Android.

Pro tip: From experience, I can tell you the GPS to these installations may not be totally accurate. Just keep an eye open; sometimes, the art is just on the opposite side of the road that GPS tells you.

Photo by Kathy Condon

What do I need to explore the area? 

Now that you have the map or app, you should know a couple more things. First, you will need a car to explore Desert X — the installations are too spread out for walking.

Even though it feels like 70 degrees is perfect for exploring, our desert sun can be deceiving.  Make sure you apply suntan lotion, take your sunglasses, wear a hat, and have plenty of water. Some of the artworks are located out in the open desert with nary a bit of shade to be found.

In fact, the best way to look at it is to prepare like you are going on a hike in the desert, and you will have all that you need. Oh, and wear closed-toe shoes. Trust me, you will be glad you did, for some paths are loose sand, filled with little spurs that find their way between your toes.

Pro tips: Desert X, upon request, will make reasonable accommodations to ensure people with disabilities have access to the art — email info@desertX.org with inquiries.

Also, take note: there are no restrooms available at the sites.

Desert X is a family event 

Each time Desert X is held, I marvel at the laughter of families who have chosen to explore this free event together. Teenagers seem to relish being the directors to the various locations, while the younger ones frolic on the grounds surrounding each piece of art.

If you have been meaning to come to Palm Springs with a group of friends, Desert X provides the perfect daytime activity. Then, you have the whole evening to enjoy some of our patio restaurants, which offer a variety of cuisines.

What will I see? 

That is the great thing about this exhibition. Every stop is different and is open to interpretation by the person viewing it. I was at the event’s opening and met some artists. Interestingly, most of them were reluctant to explain their art. They want you to experience and come up with your own interpretation.

My experience at an installation

With a friend and a map in hand, we decided to head out to see London artist Rana Begum’s “No. 1225 Chainlink” in Palm Desert. Once we found the site, we parked the car and headed down the pedestrian path to the enormous chainlink fence structure.

To our delight, Rana was onsite and being filmed, so we listened in on the interview. What struck me was that she said, “When you are walking through it, there is a sense of openness and then a sense of things closing in on you, and even a sense of panic for some.”

Rana Begum’s “No. 1225 Chainlink” art installation. Photo by Kathy Condon

I entered the maze, and as it narrowed, I ended up in the middle, where round metal poles allowed me to feel the openness of the space. Then the task of finding my way out was not that easy. Admittedly, I sense panic for a moment — just like the artist predicted. The panic was short-lived, and I was smiling as I walked out.

I stood back and marveled that while the structure was massive, the lemon-colored fencing was somehow at home in its spot. Since it is going to remain in place through May, I can see taking visitors to Palm Springs out to experience it.

Sunnylands hosts an installation  

Frankly, I never need an excuse to visit Sunnylands. Since one of the installations is there — “Amar A Dios En Tierra De Indios, Es Oficio Maternal,” by Mexican artist Paloma Contreras Lomas — we headed out to see it.

It was opening day, and I was once again blessed with the ability to meet the artist, perched on one of the many benches that grace the grounds of Sunnylands. The weather was beautiful, after a couple of rare rainy days in Palm Springs, and we discussed how her art contained several fragile touches and how they were created. 

Desert X certainly does not disappoint. With eight more installations to visit, I am fortunate to live in Palm Springs and able to take off whenever I want to see them. If you plan to visit, I suggest you head to the Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels website to make reservations for your accommodations. Word is spreading about this quality and often provocative art scattered throughout Coachella Valley, which adds the adventure of a scavenger hunt. Join in the fun and experience our lovely spring weather while taking in the beauty of our valley, surrounded by our majestic mountains.

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, ”Let’s party!'” — Robin Williams

Welp, it’s time for Coachella again, and what a beast of a party it’s going to be this year with Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, Swedish House Mafia, and Kanye (billed as Ye) headlining. There’s already a titch of craz-ye in the air.

Per their website, the lineup also includes Phoebe Bridgers, Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Baby, 21 Savage, Danny Elfman, Doja Cat, Run the Jewels, Jamie xx, Carly Rae Jepsen, Vince Staples, Japanese Breakfast, Baby Keem, Caribou (and Daphni), City Girls, Denzel Curry, Caroline Polachek, 100 gecs, DJ Koze, Turnstile, Rina Sawayama, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib, the Avalanches, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Arooj Aftab, Orville Peck, Nilüfer Yanya, Disclosure, Brockhampton, PUP, the Blessed Madonna, Peggy Gou, Spiritualized, Amber Mark, Slowthai, Fatboy Slim, Mako Kream, Idles, J.I.D, girl in red, Duck Sauce, BadBadNotGood, Amyl and the Sniffers, and many more.

That’s more people than my high school graduating class.

The festival runs two weekends: April 15-17 and April 22-24. If you have tickets, have tons of fun, wear sunscreen, check out how to get there, and here’s a list of their services.

If you don’t have tickets, and you have the sads, you can watch the festival from the comfort of one of our resorts with a cocktail, inside your air conditioned room, or by the pool at the Coachella page on YouTube.

Right after Coachella, it’s Stagecoach starting April 30. So wash, rinse, repeat. But don’t do that with your hair. That’s just a ploy so you’ll use more product, unless you went to a music festival — then definitely wash, rinse, repeat.

That’s what a lot of folks are pumped about for April, but for those of you who eschew everything that comes with being in a huge crowd, yet love a good party (raises hand), read on…

Free things to do (and some food, too)

April 3: Opera in the Park will be held at Sunrise Park in Palm Springs. The free concert will feature accomplished opera professionals accompanied by a professional orchestra. Event attendees are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch and enjoy a day of beloved opera arias.

April 6: Rock The Park, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Kenny Metcalf performs Elton John: The Early Years.

April 28: Dining Out For Life — Check the website for a list of participating restaurants. It’s a lot.

Thursdays Free at Palm Springs Art Museum

Thursdays Village Fest just ask your host, or follow the crowd.

Ticketed events

April 1: Rouge Ballroom Bash by Nickerson Rossi Dance. Salon Rouge returns to the International DanceFestival.  A praised sold-out program that this year will feature this award-winning dance team and ballroom instructors, Beverly Durand and Curtis Collins. Learn basic social dancing, hit the dance floor to strut your moves, and be ready to move. Oh, and the drinks are on them!

Through April 29: Glow In The Park at The Living Desert, a spring lantern festival. This is The Living Desert’s brand new and larger-than-life illuminated experience. This extraordinary nighttime event will feature intricate, immersive, and truly awe-inspiring animal and naturescape lantern creations representing wild places from around the globe. Get ready to see The Living Desert in a whole new light.

PS Historical Society has a bunch of walking tours and biking tours (rental bikes) that look fantastic. Listed by days, the website has offerings like Golden Era Hollywood Homes, the Rat Pack Playground, the Heart of the City, and more.

MOGO Silent Disco: I still wanna go to this. Curated music in your ears, dancing down the street with a non-intrusive tour guide. Come on! How much fun!

Live theater

Desert Ensemble Theater: Great little company at the Cultural Center.

Palm Canyon Theater: Spamalot playing in April.

Dezart Performs: Last chance to see one of their terrific productions of the 2021/2022 season.

Desert Rose Playhouse: Check out Palm Springs The Musical: Born to Sparkle.

Music and comedy

Fridays – Caliente Comedy: Not the all-star comedians, but funny, funny people.

Thursdays – Jazzville: What a show! If you like jazz and you’re here on a Thursday, get yourself a ticket.

Purple Room: Rat Pack vibes, dinner and entertainment. Amazing local performers Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fridays and Saturdays are ticketed events with well-known entertainers, and on Sundays, check out my beloved The Judy Show.

PS Underground: Musical madness from two creative geniuses. Dinners and brunches like you’ve never experienced before. They also have an Easter Gospel Brunch (adults only).

Oscar’s: So very gay, so very fun. That’s not the name of an act, just a description of Oscar’s.

PS Cultural Center: Not just movies, farmers markets, and the vintage anymore. On April 17, check out Alohana, a tiki day celebration. And there’s Martinis and Moxie on April 13.

Drag brunches 

Oscar’s Bitchiest Brunch Show

Disco Boozy Brunch

Roly China Fusion

If you haven’t yet, take a ride up the mountain on the tram and hike our gorgeous trails before it gets too hot.

If that’s not enough excitement for you, head even higher into the skies with a warbird ride at the Palm Springs Air Museum, available every weekend.

May is the Oasis Music Festival; I’ll tell you more about that next time.

Until then, stay safe, shop and stay local, and if you go to any of the clubs or theaters, tell them Kay from Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels sent you. No one can pronounce my last name, Kudukis, but it’s often hilarious when people try. But that’s just me. You won’t get a laugh, or any discounts, but they won’t kick you out — I don’t think. Hmmm. Do me a favor, give it a try and let me know? Thanks, you’re the best!