N ature ruled supreme in Palm Springs until the 1950s when Hollywood's celebrities turned the desert town into a home-away-from-home. It's still a relaxed, sun-drenched escape for Angelinos of all stripes, but its liberal spirit has made it a popular LGBT destination, analogous to Provincetown and Fire Island.
Arts & CultureAlthough known primarily for its mid-century architecture, the new Palm Desert branch of the Palm Springs Art Museum has curated a superb collection of contemporary sculpture, including pieces by Donald Judd, Betty Gold, and Jesús Bautista Moroles.
Off the Beaten PathFor unbeatable panoramas, take a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. It's not cheap, but at 6,000 feet you'll be glad you made the trip. Take your hiking boots—there's 14,000 acres of pristine trails at the top.
Not to Be MissedWhen you're not sitting poolside with a cooling drink in hand, you should be taking in this city's extraordinary architectural heritage. Many of the homes are private, or—like Frank Sinatra's Twin Palms estate—rented out, but PS Modern Tours offers a three-hour excursion to explore the city's landmarks of modernist design.
Get in the MoodRead: Palm Springs Confidential, a gossipy who's who in Palm Springs history, including insights into closeted 50s and 60s-era stars of screen, like Rock Hudson and Anthony Perkins, who turned Palm Springs into a sanctuary where they could live their lives beyond prying eyes.
Insider TipsIf you've time, take a day to visit Joshua Tree National Park, and visit the aptly-named Skull Rock, accessible via the west entrance visitor center.
Gay TriviaJust outside Palm Springs, at 50800 Seminole Drive, stand the Cabazon Dinosaurs, two legendary roadside sculptures featured in the 1985 movie Pee-wee's Big Adventure.