Palm Springs 101: Travel Tips for the Gay Oasis
By Nicholas Cimarusti
PACKING FOR PALM SPRINGS
Palm Springs can make Las Vegas feel like Minneapolis. It gets hot, but strangely, it's one of the charms (higher temperatures=less clothing). For those not accustomed to the desert, hot days can mean chilly nights. Here are some things to keep you constantly comfortable.
Bathing suit. This is pretty obvious, but just in case you needed a reminder. If the heat takes you by surprise then there's always always Xpect or Trina Turk for some on-location shopping.
Sunscreen, sunglasses, lip balm. Desert 101: Be prepared for the sun and you won't get burnt.
Hat or umbrella or parasol (why not?). Portable shade; what's not to love?
Camelbak. Any type of re-usable water bottle will do. Just make sure you find a way to keep hydrated and feeling good as you enjoy the sun's abundant rays.
Light jacket. Once the sun goes down in the desert, so does the temperature.
GETTING TO PALM SPRINGS
By plane. For nonstop flights to Palm Springs, Virgin America isoften the most viable option, although Alaska, American, Delta and United do offer some flights as well. Virgin America is the nation's first nonstop flight from the New York area to Palm Springs with its popular seasonal package, available Oct. 11 through April 30. Connecting flights are available at other major airports, including Boston, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. Virgin also offers a daily non-stop from San Francisco International to Palm Springs for under $300.
By car. A car ride from Los Angeles is about two hours, depending on traffic, if you take the I-10 East then the Hwy. 111 exit to Palm Springs. Coming from San Francisco, the road trip is roughly seven or eight hours. If you're driving in from San Diego, the trip will be a little over two hours.
By train/bus/shuttle. Amtrak offers a roughly 2.5-hour train ride from Union Station in Los Angeles to a station north of Palm Springs for about $40 (you'll need a cab to get to the center of town). If you prefer bus, then Greyhound is also an option; the trip is anywhere from 2.5-3.5 hours, depending on transfers, and the price is under $40. Another great option is the Desert Valley Shuttle, which transports travelers to Palm Springs from all major airports in Southern California (LAX, Long Beach, John Wayne, etc.) in addition to a door-to-door service.
GETTING AROUND PALM SPRINGS
By foot. Downtown Palm Springs is pretty walkable, but getting back to your condo or hotel with only your feet as transportation can get complicated, especially if it's hot.
By bus. Sunbus runs convenient routes through Palm Springs and other desert cities.
By bike. Big Wheel Tours and Bike Palm Springs offer mountain bikes, tandems and cruisers. Two wheels are a great way to get around town quickly and feel the breeze on your face. Don't forget a water bottle.
By scooter. Is a bike just not fast enough? Try out a motor scooter from Scoot Palm Springs.
ENJOYING PALM SPRINGS
Hop on the aerial tramway. This very singluar experience takes you up to the top of the San Jacinto Mountains, where the temperature drops by about 30 degrees. Once up in the mountains, you can eat, shop, or hike. The views are spectacular.
Take a Jeep tour. Explore the vast wilderness of the high desert or traverse through a backcountry trail either in the morning or the afternoon. Try Desert Adventures.
Browse the vintage boutiques. True to its reputation as a refuge for the artistically inclined, Palm Springs contains some of the best vintage and eclectic shopping south of Los Angeles. We love Just Fabulous, with an assortment of art books, Jonathan Adler merchandise, and tasteful glasses and drinking accessories. Mischief! also has fun items and is located on Arenas Avenues, the city's LGBT street.
Down some Cactus Cooler. Palm Springs is nothing if not an expertly designed oasis. Come nightfall, there is a watering hole to suit every desire and thirst. Grab a drink at a great restaurant like Trio or ditch the food and hit up the friendly bar SpurLine on Arenas Avenue.