Palm Springs, one of three destinations to choose from if you win the Gays With Kids "Who Needs a Vacation?" contest, is, if nothing else, a place of contrasts. Majestic mountains, some 10,000 feet high, shoot up from the flat valley floor. Tanned young muscular men relax poolside while 60-something golfers wander the course in the distance beyond. Green expanses of lawns and water fountains give way to a wildly beautiful dusty desert landscape at every turn. Modern resort hotels sit alongside quirky motels, awash in American charm.
The Palm Springs area, located about 100 miles east of Los Angeles, is several communities strung together, including Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage and Cathedral City. The region has long been a draw for both Hollywood celebrities and gay men, and it is said to now have the fifth highest concentration of same-sex households in the United States.
Opportunities for entertainment abound in Palm Springs, whether you are looking for wild, mild, or somewhere in between. Here’s a look at just a sampling of what you can do.
Become one with nature
If you’ve never tried hot-air ballooning, Palm Springs is an incredible place to experience it for the first time. There are numerous operators in the valley, and the flights afford amazing views of both the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountain ranges. The feeling is completely different from an airplane flight or helicopter ride, because of the balloon's relaxing motion and total silence (aside from the occasional “whooshes” of the gas flame). Most tours occur in the early morning hours or just before sunset, when the winds are light and the light is gorgeous. You can choose between normally scheduled tours or arrange private tours with some operators.
One of the most popular area activities is taking the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (it even rotates!) to the top, a height of 8,516 feet above sea level. Stunning vistas await visitors at the Mountain Station, a full 2 miles diagonally from where you boarded! The top also boasts a gift shop and a natural history museum.
If you still haven’t gotten enough of the great outdoors, you can also participate in open-air bus tours, horseback riding, or jeep tours to learn more, and get different vantage points of the area.
Sport it up!