Greater Palm Springs is known as being very LGBTQ-friendly so you might wonder if you should plan your visit during their Pride weekend or just go at another time, and what the differences would be like between the two. Well I’ve actually been there when it’s Pride, as well as when it’s not, so I’ll share about both in this article!
Greater Palm Springs Pride takes place in early November and my first time there was actually in late October. I spent a few days exploring the area, starting with a Celebrity / Mid-Century Homes tour from Red Jeep Tours. I got to see a bunch of notable homes and learn quite a bit about some of its gay history and famous former residents. Then I went for a hike in the Indian Canyons to explore the indigenous flora and fauna. There was surprisingly a lot of greenery and water flowing considering it’s in the desert!
To get a birds eye view I went up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which is actually the world’s largest rotating tramcar. At the top there were restaurants, observation decks, documentary theatres, and over 50 miles of hiking trails. Then for a bit of art and education I went to the Palm Springs Art Museum where I checked out the current exhibits – there are a number of different exhibitions going at any one time, so plenty to see there.
Of course there were also plenty of nightlife options to check out as well while in Greater Palm Springs. I saw a show at The Purple Room, which hosts amazing entertainers including comedic impersonators and famous drag queens, and I also went to a few different bars on Arenas Road. There are about a dozen gay-owned businesses in just that LGBTQ-concentrated section, so it’s always a busy spot for our community, both day and night. Since I was there at the end of October there was also a Halloween festival going on with tons of people in costume out on the street and inside the bars.
I made a video of this visit so check that out to see more of what I got up to including the restaurants I ate at, but these things were only the beginning of what Greater Palm Springs had to offer outside of Pride. I could have also chosen from over 110 golf courses, played a game of tennis on courts where legends have played, spent some time relaxing at a nice spa, or checked out The Living Desert zoo and garden. There is also of course all kinds of shopping or even just laying by the pool as an option… there certainly isn’t a shortage of things to do in this year-round LGBTQ-friendly place.
The time that I visited during Greater Palm Springs Pride included some extra events to go to and even more people like me in town for the weekend. I started things off with a Pride Kick-Off party at a set of stores called Trina Turk | Mr Turk where I had some bubbly and hors d’oeuvres among the clothing and housewares on display, before heading out to a street party on Arenas Road. In addition to the bars being packed there were multiple stages with some pretty impressive performers (including TLC, Heather Small from M People, and Kristine W when I was there) with other areas having DJs playing music and stands selling beverages.
There was also a street fair during the day where all kinds of businesses and organizations had booths set up so visitors could see what’s going on (and for sale) for the LGBTQ community. There were a lot of people checking it out when I was there, but there ended up being even more lined up along the street during the parade. There were more entries in that than I would have expected for a smaller city, and more people watching than I had anticipated too!
I also ended up going to an afternoon party called Poolfest, put on by LE parties, where they took over the outdoor pool area of a hotel for some swimming and dancing in the sunshine. There were really no shortage of Pride-related activities and events to get up to so this trip ended up being quite a bit more partying and rainbows than the previous, even though there was plenty then too too! I also made a video about this visit so you can check that out as well.
So if you’re wondering if you should go to Greater Palm Springs during Pride or during another time the answer is – yes! You can absolutely go during either, or better yet, both. There are always LGBTQ visitors and plenty of things for our community to see and do while there. During Pride it’s especially exciting for the extra people who come out to celebrate at the parade, the street fair, and the street party, but outside of Pride places like Arenas Road are still busy with plenty of people and options of places to check out.
Regardless of when you’re there remember that there is a lot to see and do so while there are many options for nightlife (and restaurants) there are also all kinds of tours, attractions, and venues to visit as well. Greater Palm Springs, with its large and vibrant LGBTQ community, is known as a welcoming and inclusive travel destination any time of the year. Nine distinct cities – Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio and Coachella – make up this Southern California oasis, where visitors can enjoy world-class resorts, boutique hotels, a lively nightlife scene, cultural attractions, and signature events like Greater Palm Springs Pride!