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Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips.

The Pride Journeys blog is a premier source for LGBTQ travel, featuring destination reviews and news, in addition to lifestyle content that covers entertainment, food, wine, and culture. This post originally appeared on their site. You can also read it here.

Palm Springs is my happy place. The city and the surrounding area provide me with the perfect mix of relaxation and entertainment. Having been to Palm Springs numerous times, I wanted to partake in things that I have never tried before, most notably a full body massage at El Morocco Inn & Spa, but we will get to that later.

RELATED: 6 best resorts for lesbian travelers

After checking in to Triangle Inn, a lovely mid-century modern men-only guesthouse located just one mile from the Arenas Road LGBTQ nightlife district, I decide to unwind from my flight and take it easy by the pool. I strike up a wonderful conversation with another guest from Los Angeles who is in town for the weekend. Apparently, Palm Springs is his happy place as well. Everyone I encounter at this clothing-optional resort is very friendly and eager to give advice on the hottest spots to visit during my stay.

Triangle Inn

I decide to head to Cathedral City for happy hour. Before Palm Springs became the queer mecca of today, Cathedral City was the epicenter of LGBTQ culture in the desert. The area is home to an array of nightlife establishments, including The Barracks, AMP Sports Lounge and One Eleven Bar, a beautifully decorated space which on the evening of my visit is celebrating female voices of the ’80s. I sip a delicious espresso rum-tini while grooving to music from Whitney, Madonna, and Tina.

The time change is hitting me hard, so I decide to retire early to my room and when I say room, I mean something closer to a 1-bedroom apartment. The suite contains a full living room, dining room and kitchen, in addition to a king size bed and large walk-in shower.

Book a LGBTQ-welcoming Palm Spring hotel here!

I grab breakfast the next morning at a cute LGBTQ-owned restaurant called Sunshine Café. I don’t normally eat a heavy breakfast but when I see the Banana Nut Pancakes on the menu, I know I have to at least give them a try. The extra calories are definitely worth it.

Today is my zen day in the desert and I hear about this wonderful shop creating organic skin care products called The Body Deli. The business uses raw and organic superfoods to create their products which range from facial moisturizers and scrubs to hair shampoo and conditioner. I sample a few products while there and can actually smell the freshness of the foods they use to create the products. The store offers a variety of travel-size skincare kits that are perfect for out-of-towners looking to bring home some product.

My next destination is El Morocco Inn & Spa, located in the town of Desert Hot Springs, which is known for the mineral properties in its water. I decide to indulge myself with a two-hour Moroccan Mystical Ritual, which begins with dry brushing to stimulate the lymphatic and circulatory system and provide exfoliation. My body is then covered in organic Rhassoul clay from the Atlas Mountains. As I lay on the massage table, the clay began to harden, and I feel like I am wrapped in a cocoon. At times it is a bit uncomfortable, but I know the end result will be wonderful. I jump in the shower to rinse the clay off my body before the Moroccan Rain massage begins. This is a process of using a raindrop technique to apply seven different essential oils along the spine, which all aid in detoxification.

Feeling refreshed, I am ready to enjoy a night on the town. I meet up with my friend Brad Fuhr who publishes the Gay Desert Guide, a one-stop-spot for everything you need to know about LGBTQ culture and nightlife in the Palm Springs area. We enjoy dinner at Trio, one of my favorite local restaurants. I begin with the roasted beet salad and then order the fish special, while Brad goes for the pesto-crusted king salmon served over squash and angel hair pasta. Consistency is key and you can never go wrong with a meal at Trio.

No visit to Palm Springs would be complete without partying on Arenas Road, the LGBTQ cultural and nightlife hub of the city. Coincidentally, the owner of Hunters is in town (there is also a Hunters in Wilton Manors, Florida). Mark Hunter and I had met briefly in Florida many years ago so we spend the evening reconnecting. We have such a good time chatting that before I know it, midnight rolls around, and it is time for bed. I know what you’re thinking, midnight is early, but I am still suffering from jet lag and have a full schedule of activities to get to the following day.

I wake up early to visit multiple public art exhibitions around the downtown area. The days are really starting to heat up and it topped 100 degrees the day prior, so I want to get to the art before the heat becomes unbearable. There are many art displays and murals around the Palm Springs Art Museum that are worth checking out.

If you happen to be in town on a Sunday evening, there is no better place to be than Oscar’s for their world-famous T-Dance. The iconic party takes place every Sunday from 4-8pm and recently began again after almost a year-long hiatus. I am told people from around the world visit Palm Springs specifically to attend T-Dance at Oscar’s.

Of course, dancing will make you hungry, so for my final meal in the desert, I head to Roly China Fusion, a multi-level space which also hosts a weekly drag brunch on Sundays. While there, I try the lobster dumplings, which are served in a delicious truffle butter broth with shiitake mushrooms and Napa cabbage. It is one of the best dishes I’ve ever had in Palm Springs.

Palm Springs Pride Festival is scheduled to take place this year on November 6-7. After a year off, I’m sure it will be a very festive occasion. Make plans early as reservations at Palm Springs’ numerous guest houses tend to sell out during this time. If you have never been to Palm Springs, I’m sure you’ll find it to be your happy place too.

To learn more, visit www.visitgreaterpalmsprings.com and to book your Palm Springs gaycation, visit www.Orbitz.com/pride.

Enjoy the Journey!

Tagged: California, Palm Springs

Note: Orbitz compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Joey Amato

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