The Palm Springs International Film Festival (760-322-2930 or 800-898-7256) is held in January. The International Festival of Short Films (aka "ShortFest"), held in early September, sponsored by the same group, is another popular event. Long-legged and long-lived, the senior beauties (ages 55-85) of the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies (Plaza Theatre; 128 S. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-327-0225; www.psfollies.com) perform an old-fashioned vaudeville, including comedy, circus performance, song and dance. This show has become one of Palm Springs' must-see events -- it's wildly entertaining. The season runs November through May.
McCallum Theatre for the Performing Arts (73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-346-6505, tickets 760-340-ARTS) has a blockbuster season of exciting shows. This state-of-the-art facility is a premier showcase for the lively arts. The Palm Springs Art Museum (101 Museum Drive; 760-325-7186) focuses on mostly modern, cutting-edge art and some architecture. It presents its permanent collection in several beautiful galleries and features traveling exhibitions in an enriching atmosphere.
Aviation enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to the Palm Springs Air Museum (745 N. Gene Autry Trail; 760-778-6262), which houses one of the world's largest collections of flying WWII airplanes displayed in bright, clean spacious hangars.
If you have an interest in Palm Springs' unusual brand of modern architecture, book a tour with Robert Imber, who runs PS Modern Tours (760-318-6118, [email protected]). Imber leads visitors around town in a small minivan, describing the history and characteristics of the mid-century modern style that's so popular in this region and can be found in several gay guesthouses. His wit and charming personality brings to life Palm Springs' unique celebrity and architectural importance -- as well as gay history and local dish. Allow two and a half hours for the tour, which examines both residential and commercial properties. It's not to be missed. The cost is $55 per person.
Gay men and lesbians take over the town twice a year. Women rule during the Nabisco Championship (2 Racquet Club Drive; www.thedinah.com or www.dinahshoreweekend.com), an LPGA major golf event. The related and hugely successful party is known by most fans simply as Dinah Shore Weekend, which is what the golf tournament used to be named. Men take over after the following week, with the Annual White Party (888-777-8886; www.jeffreysanker.com), one of the largest circuit parties in the country, drawing some 30,000 revelers. Many visitors enjoy spa treatments while in town.
Another Jeffrey Sanker event is growing in popularity -- the New Year's Eve Masterbeat (800-494-8497). Palm Springs Pride comes to town the first weekend in November, making it the latest such event in the country. A week later, bears and leather aficionados come to town for Palm Springs Leather Pride.
Palm Springs has plenty of health and fitness options. Gold's Gym (4070 Airport Center Drive; 760-322-4653; $15/day), the "gay gym," is the best workout facility in the area. Members of other Gold's Gym facilities may receive discounted or complimentary use of the gym. Call for information.
The hottest workout facility in town is World's Gym (1751 N. Sunrise Way; 760-327-7100), a beautiful and well-equipped health club that's extremely popular with gay men; day passes cost $15. The Basic Gym (1584 S. Palm Canyon Drive; 760-320-1009) is more of a training gym. It's small but offers great equipment and $10 day passes. It's popular with lesbians. Several guesthouses offer passes to the 24 Hour Fitness (34461 Date Palm Dr, Cathedral City; 760-324-0504), located in an out-of-the-way and not particularly pleasant area. Day passes are $10.