Travel Thursday: Palm Springs, Your Next Romantic Getaway
After what felt as an eternity of planning a wedding with my partner, we finally were able to celebrate our marriage with our closest friends and family in what felt like the autumn day. We worked round the clock, down to the last detail, to make sure our guests felt the personal touches for them in gratitude for sharing in our special day. But as the weeks prior to our big day loomed over us we realized that we had forgotten one HUGE detail—we hadn’t even thought about any type of honeymoon.
Our year had already been packed with travel and huge projects, so we must have missed this one important aspect of the newlywed life. With the expenses that we made and the post-wedding fatigue, we weren’t ready to look for last minute flights that probably would have reached insane prices. So after a couple of days of coming down from our #Groom4Groom wedding bliss, we figured a quick road trip would be the best way to get away and explore as husband and husband.
For Orange County natives, a 2-4 hour road trip could take you anywhere, but naturally as the temperature was dropping and the summer pool hoppers were starting to disappear, Palm Springs (California’s gay Mecca) was the right place for our simple and sweet hubbymoon.
Nestled in the Coachella Valley between Los Angeles and San Diego, Palm Springs is a desert oasis known for its resorts, mid-century modern architecture, boutique shopping, hip and stylish hotels, spas, golf courses, and most importantly its vibrant gay lifestyle rich with nightlife and entertainment. We knew we were headed to a place where our agenda would be widely spread whether we wanted to lounge by the pool, have a drink at a bar, get a massage or dance the night away—we were looking forward to exploring the culture of Palm Springs since we had only ever scratched the surface of what this desert sanctuary has to offer.
STAY - Tortuga del Sol
We checked in to Tortuga del Sol, a quiet clothing optional gay men’s resort where we were welcomed by one of the resort’s owners, Robert. Robert made us feel right at home, showing us around the resort that was beautifully kept. We met Rick, Tortuga del Sol’s other owner and Robert’s partner later in the day and he was just as nice! The word Tortuga, meaning turtle in Spanish, comes from the couple’s love for turtles—which is apparent from the desert décor spread throughout the grounds. They even have a coy pond with several turtles for you to pet—if they let you! The 12-room resort was converted from a studio housing complex, but you’d never know it because it has been transformed into a serene location to relax poolside while enjoying breathtaking mountain views. Each room has its own full kitchen and dining area, which was ideal for us since we like to stock up on snacks. Our favorite part of Tortuga del Sol were their therapeutic cabanas which shaded us from the hot sun while allowing us to sip on our cocktails in between naps. So soothing! After dark, we took a dip in the hot tub and enjoyed the dimly lit cubes lining the resort’s pool.
EXPERIENCE - Oscar’s Cabaret
To kick off our hubbymoon weekend, we decided to go out for a romantic dinner that only Palm Springs could deliver. Oscar’s Cabaret is the longest running show in Palm Springs since The Follies. Every Friday night, Oscar’s Palm Springs presents a cabaret show hosted by the world famous James “Gypsy” Haake who has appeared in films and television for over 50 years. Gypsy takes guests on a journey through musical history, providing anecdotes that lead to performances by world-class celebrity female impersonators. On our particular night, we were entertained by Liza Minnelli, Gwen Stefani, Dionne Warwick, Bette Midler, Judy Garland, Madonna, and Whitney Houston—all interwoven by Gypsy’s hilarious wit and commentary. The entire team at Oscar’s was welcoming and made us feel at home, especially the owner Dan, who greeted us at the host stand and even returned to chat with us throughout our evening.
EXPERIENCE - Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
One of the most incredible things we experienced while in Palm Springs was a trip to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway—one of the most popular attractions in Palm Springs. Located right at the South entrance of the Palm Springs strip, we took a quick drive up the road from the city and to the foot of the San Joaquin Mountains. At the doors to the tramway, you could already feel that the temperature had slightly dropped. After getting our tickets, we waited outside gazing up at the trams make their way to and from the peak. Once we boarded, we took a breathtaking journey up the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon, overlooking all of Palm Springs and past the white wind turbines that are iconic of the area. The 10-minute ride up 2,643 feet was spectacular. Upon arriving at the top, the temperature had dropped at least 30 degrees and we felt the nice autumn breeze. So if you go, don’t forget to bring a light sweater or jacket. There was an amazing change in scenery with miles of forest trees. We trekked down the pedestrian walkway and spent a few hours hiking the trails and stopping for photo ops.
TASTE - Peabody’s Café
Breakfast has always been our favorite meal of the day and when it comes to breakfast, we like to sit and enjoy some soul-filling food with a cup of coffee. Peabody’s Café was the answer. Located right on Palm Spring’s Palm Canyon Drive strip, Peabody’s is a staple for locals and travelers. It first began as a coffee house in 1992, but over the years has grown into a full restaurant and bar that specializes in simple American food. We loved it! We were pleasantly surprised to meet Peabody’s owner, Debbie, who greeted every customer and went from table to table to ensure everyone was enjoying their morning. She gave us some recommendations that we tried: Lox Benny (Benedict) and Cinnamon French Toast—amazing! While we waited for our breakfast we absorbed their huge cups of coffee and ordered one of their famous Bloody Marys. They have nine ingredients and they have coined them as “The Best Bloody Mary Ever!” Debbie shared with us her love for all things old Hollywood—a woman after my own heart! Old Hollywood glamour adorns the restaurant’s walls with photos of starlets that basically become an extra guest at your table. We were enamored by the café’s vintage appeal. We even discovered that Peabody’s offers karaoke on weekend nights! We are definitely looking forward to returning and trying one of their gigantic omelets and of course another Bloody Mary.
EXPERIENCE - Palm Springs Art Museum
To add a bit of culture to our hubbymoon, we ventured out to the Palm Springs Art Museum. Even before we parked, we were already appreciating the work of art that is the architecture and structure of the museum. An organic form and water installation welcome visitors up to mid-century modern building. Inside, the museum offers 28 galleries and two structure gardens. The museum has everything from photography, Mesoamerican, but if you’re a fan of contemporary art, the Palm Springs Art Museum will be a dream come true! A couple of our favorites were Robert Therrien’s No Title (stacked plates, butter) and Duane Hanson’s Old Couple on a Bench (which really freaked us out! Super life-like!) But the show that really drew us in was their visiting exhibition Kinesthesia: Latin American Art, 1954-1969. The works in this exhibition were surreal, touching every part of our senses and often making us feel like we were in another world because of the incredible use of light, movement and use of space. Kinesthesia is an in-depth examination of international Kinetic Art from the 1950s and 1960s that will leave you immersed in negative space and not wanting to come out.
STAY - The Avalon Hotel and Bungalows
We arrived at The Avalon Hotel and Bungalows for lunch and a spa treatment. The Avalon is a chic hotel that was giving us our porcelain-loving life! With white tones throughout the lobby and hotel corridors, this relaxing sanctuary was definitely a spot we will be returning to. It’s perfect for boutique hotel aficionados. The pools had a lively atmosphere that transported you into a spa-like oasis with vintage flair.
TASTE - Chi Chi @ The Avalon
While waiting for our spa treatments at Estrella, we sat poolside at Chi Chi, the fresh and clean restaurant inside The Avalon Hotel. Their menu is focused on wellness and has a nice list of items that are organic and have an authentic West Coast twist. From the menu we tried the poke and turkey burger which were both fresh substantial despite their refined plating. We also tried their Revive wellness drink which is a rich mixture of kale, mint, ginger, celery, apple, and turmeric—just what we needed before our moment of relaxation.
EXPERIENCE - Estrella Spa @ The Avalon
The Estrella Spa is hidden at the back of The Avalon Hotel and Bungalows where serenity meets the foot of the mountains. Before entering we were received by private hot tubs and cabanas where we lounged before entering. While we waited for our appointment, the spa offered us a glass of champagne while we decompressed in our fluffy white robes. My one-hour facial was glorious! If it’s possible to request an aesthetician, I recommend Lorena! She had the perfect touch and was careful in measuring how much or how little pressure I could handle. I also enjoyed our conversation during our session. She kept me relaxed and when she was done my face was glowing and I floated back to the showers. Definitely something you want to do when in Palm Springs to keep you mellowed out—especially if you’re there with your hubby.
TASTE - Watercress Vietnamese Bistro
If you’re as big a fan of Asian food as we are, you will LOVE Watercress Vietnamese Bistro. We caught this place in the heart of Downtown Palm Springs, in a spot that as lively as can be. The restaurant is primarily inviting because of the tropical atmosphere with green accents and water mist calling your name. When we walked in we were greeted by one of the co-owners, Dr. Phong Nguyen. He welcomed us and took us to one of the best tables in the patio—perfect for people watching while we sipped on our Vietnamese Mule (You have to try it!). We tried so much food here! From the Coconut Shrimp to the Brochette and Steamed Pork Belly Buns, the appetizers were mouthwatering. But the entrees were beyond words! We ordered the Yellow Curry, Watercress Beef Salad, Garlic Butter-Soy Shrimp and the Wok-fried Steak Cubes—Did I mention we love Asian food!? We will absolutely be returning to Watercress thanks to Dr. Nguyen and his incredible wait staff.
Our weekend hubbymoon came and went and we were amazed that we were able to get in some rest in-between our exploration itinerary. Our trip to Palm Springs proved to be an eye-opening experience, one that we shared for the first time as a married couple. We learned so much about this gay travel destination that we had never had time to learn. Maybe we were still on our wedding high, but we fell madly in love with Palm Springs—so much so that we think we may buy a home there in the future. For anyone who hasn’t been there, what are you waiting for?
For more information about Palm Springs, go to visitpalmsprings.com