The summer’s pride festivities are soon upon us, and sunny Palm Springs is one way to kick-start the party season. For years this little desert city has been a popular destination for the LGBT community, what with events like the Dinah Shore Weekend and the White Party, one of America’s largest gay circuit events.
Raving aside, the getaway is a favourite amongst A-list celebrities from Brad and Angelina to our very own Justin Bieber, who often retreat to Palm Springs to get some much needed R&R.
Whether you desire a weekend of tequila and sweaty madness or a glamorous sanctuary to recharge in true Biebs-style, Vancity Buzz visited the famous Palm tree-lined streets to uncover five reasons to go before Vancouver Pride.
While the weather in Vancouver can be somewhat unpredictable, Palm Springs is scorching. We stayed at the Hyatt Palm Springs downtown, the only all-suite resort in the area with oversized rooms and a very inviting outdoor drinking and eating experience, the HooDoo Cocktail Garden, meaning an entire day outside by the pool is perfectly feasible. Conveniently open dawn to dusk, we spent a lot of time cavorting in the water with our GoPro underwater camera in-between working hard on bronzing up before our return to Vancouver.
It might be surprising to find that despite images of braless spring break college girls or rich retired couples, Palm Springs has a pretty thriving LGBT scene all year round. Hunters is probably the go-to gay bar and dance club, and has been for the last 16 years or so. There’s karaoke and cabaret, and it was by far the busiest venue the night we decided to hit the town. Look out for new kid on the block too, Chill Lounge, which hosts weekly underwear parties, and their stunning outdoor patio area which wouldn’t look out of place on a WeHo strip.
Number one tip for Palm Springs: pre-drink at dinner – and go hard! Drinking with food is astonishingly cheap downtown and so much of it is unlimited. At American restaurant Johnny Bongo’s there are $5 bottomless mimosas with food purchase. Not a typo, that’s $5 not for one, but for as many mimosas as you can drink (or as many as you can stomach while eating their giant meat burgers!).
One of our trip highlights was the Hacienda Cantina & Beach Club, a superb poolside restaurant. We recommend tucking in to their astounding Mexican appies and happy hour Margaritas, the best we’ve ever tasted for only $3. If you’re in town on a Tuesday, join the Taco Tuesday celebrations. The deep fried fish taco is a firm favourite.
For some, pre-drinks don’t start at dinner, they start at breakfast. If that’s the case then pop into Pinocchio’s in the Desert. The bistro not only serves breakfast and lunch, but yes, you’ve guessed it, they have $3.95 bottomless champagne. By noon you’ll probably be purchasing their essential gaycation souvenirs including Pinocchio noses!
Vancouverites are no stranger to hiking, and no doubt after the recent food and drink consumption, trekking the rocks should appeal.
On a completely different level to our Grouse Grind, Palm Springs offers a rather exciting landscape to dig your feet into in the shape of the world-renowned Indian Canyons. Of the four, Palm, Murray, Andreas and Tahquitz Canyon, we opted for the tropically beautiful Andreas Canyon. The trails offered cooling streams, ancient palm groves, skirted palm trees and some stunning views including a unique natural arrangement, which inspired The Lion King’s Pride Rock.
Although the loonie is a little weak at the moment (and by little we mean absolutely appalling), there are still some great bargains to be found using the USD in Palm Springs.
The Uptown Design District is full of mid-century modern shops, but for hardcore shoppers be sure to visit the Desert Hills Premium Outlets, 25 minutes west of Palm Springs. There you’ll find 25% to 65% off at 1,830 designer and name brand outlet stores from Armani Outlet to Lacoste.
For more information visit www.VisitPalmSprings.com or call the Palm Springs Visitor Centre at 1-800-347-7746.