Palm Springs is one of those destinations that you never get tired of. I’m not sure if it’s the landscape or the abundance of over-the-top gayness that makes the city truly magical. On my most recent visit to the desert gay mecca, I attended Palm Springs Pride, an event headlined this year by TLC and Kristine W. This year was the largest Pride celebration in the city’s history. I even had the opportunity to meet Palm Springs Mayor Robert Moon.
First impressions are everything, and I had forgotten how easy Palm Springs airport is to navigate. Within minutes after walking off the plane, you can be laying poolside at your hotel or shopping along the boutique-and-art-gallery-heavy Palm Canyon Dr.
I was visiting with my friend and fellow journalist Josh Rimer, who was named Mr. Gay Canada 2019. He and I met on a media trip in Phoenix/Tempe and have traveled to Columbus, Ohio together as well. Visiting a destination like Palm Springs is more fun if you travel with someone unless you are an extreme extrovert, which neither Josh nor I are. Having traveled together in the past made this visit fun and enjoyable.
After checking in at Alcazar Palm Springs, we headed straight for the Opening Night Pride Party at Trina Turk, which was hosted by Brandon Liberati and Craig Ramsay. The party drew a who’s who of Palm Springs glitterati. Every year, Trina Turk donates a portion of proceeds from items sold during the event back to the Pride organization.
Before heading out on the town, grab dinner at Trio, a staple in Palm Springs since 2009. In fact, the first time I visited the city almost a decade ago, I dined at Trio. Josh and I decided to share a few starters including the Coachella Valley Dates and Ahi Tuna Tower. We were both hesitant to order the dates as they are filled with blue cheese, which neither one of us is a big fan of, but they turned out to be delicious. The blue cheese complemented the sweetness of the dates which simply melt in your mouth. Trio also hosts one of the best parade-viewing parties in town, so if you come to Pride in 2020, be sure to make a reservation.
Palm Springs nightlife is truly one of the best experiences in the country. There is a bar or club for every type of person, ensuring that whether you are LGBT or Q, you will fit in. Arenas Rd. has emerged as the epicenter of nightlife in the city with venues including Hunters, Chill Bar, Quadz, Stacy’s, The Eagle and BlackBook all within a two-block radius. Other nightlife venues are scattered throughout the city and in neighboring Cathedral City.
After a night of partying, retire back to the Alcazar for a restful night’s sleep before heading out to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to get a bird’s eye view of the city. I’ll admit, I don’t like heights nor roller coasters, so the tram made me nervous. The 10-minute journey to the top aboard a rotation car is quite the experience. There are five towers along the way and as the car passes each tower, it swings back and forth, sometimes slightly, other times, enough to make you a bit queasy. A little side note, the temperature is at least 20 degrees cooler on top of the mountain, so dress accordingly. Josh and I wore our traditional tank top attire and were a bit chilly, to say the least.
Located adjacent to Arenas Rd. is Johannes, a lovely restaurant owned by chef Johannes Bacher. The modern décor is accented by the establishment’s menu which includes an assortment of house-specialty Schnitzel. Hailing from Austria, Johannes brought his favorite dish to Palm Springs, and it quickly became a favorite among the locals. Of course, we had to try some, and I can tell you, it does live up to the hype. I don’t remember the last time I saw schnitzel of any kind on a menu, outside of a German restaurant, which I learned is a different type of preparation. Another one of my favorites at Johannes was the Grilled Marinated Peaches & Burrata. I’d give that a try if you are looking for a lighter option.
Music lovers should also take note that Palm Springs is the gateway to Coachella and Stagecoach Festival, two of the largest outdoor music festivals in the country. Stagecoach has grown into the premier country music festival in the United States since its inception in 2007. The three-day event will take place April 24-26 and feature headliners Eric Church, Carrie Underwood and Alan Jackson.
Palm Springs is a destination that always lives up to my expectations. Whether you are looking to party until dawn, relax by one of the dozens of pools around town or go hiking in nearby Joshua Tree National Park, the destination really does offer something for everyone.
Enjoy the journey!
Joey Amato is the publisher of Pride Journeys, a website dedicated to LGBTQ travel. Joey has spent over a decade in LGBTQ media and public relations and currently resides in Indianapolis, Ind. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.