If you’ve never been to Palm Springs, you can be forgiven for thinking it’s a sleepy, geriatric town. But scratch the surface and you’ll find a desert oasis with cool midcentury architecture, temperatures that encourage minimal attire, and a higher concentration of queer accommodations than almost any place on earth.
Just a two-hour drive from LAX, Palm Springs was practically built as a gay celebrity retreat. Rock Hudson and his supposed lover George Nader decamped there for alone time, as did Liberace, Tab Hunter, and Hunter’s sometime boyfriend Anthony Perkins. Along with some hip heteros, Tinseltown’s gay talent created a slick image for the desert town: Few places so close to Hollywood offered much-needed privacy, far from the madding crowd, yet remained a stone’s throw from glitzy amenities—and lots of sparkling swimming pools.