Gay Los Angeles Guide: The Essential Guide To Gay Travel In Los Angeles California 2019
Love it or hate it Gay Los Angeles is undeniably creative, ruggedly good looking, oh-so-trendy and filled with more LGBT hotspots that we could ever count – though that’s not to say we didn’t give it our best shot!
A city you feel you know before you have even hopped off a plane at LAX, Los Angeles is famous around the globe as the entertainment capital of the world – and unless you have someone how managed to avoid all movies, television and music (like, ever) … you probably have some idea what to expect!
But exploring Gay Los Angeles, you quickly learn to expect the unexpected.
We all know LA is blessed with natural beauty in a way that New Yorkers can never hope to match, and filled with more fantastical dreams and aspiring actors than any other place on the planet, but there is more to LA than that. Magnificent food, world-class art, exceptional dining, luxurious hotels, and a rich gay culture that to a deeply rooted – and very influential – LGBTQ community.
As chilled and welcoming as the stereotypical surfer dudes for which Los Angeles is famed, in this sunny city you will discover an LGBT community infused with energy, passion and genuine excitement about the future – all this despite the best efforts of this current Trump era politics of hate and discrimination.
While the queer community is welcome across the entire city, the epicenter of gay life here is undoubtedly the WeHo Boystown gaybourhood fills with farm-to-table eateries, trendy boutique store, fabulous gay bars and nightclubs… and a seemingly endless array of gay-orientated events. In fact 40 percent of its residents identifying as gay, making WeHo the gayest city in the USA!
Much like the Manchester’s Canal Street, Le Marais in Paris and Mexico City’s Zona Rosa, at times it can seem the LGBT community far outnumbers their hetero-counterparts leading to the unusual position of many venues declaring themselves straight-friendly. It’s fair to say we are absolutely living for it and can testify that the queer vibes and come-as-your-fabulous-self spirit here infuses your soul with warmth and tempts you to never leave.
But leave you should! At least to explore the rest of wonderful Los Angeles, with its wealth of outdoor attractions, miles of gorgeous coastline, a bubbling collection of unique districts, revitalized downtown, and marvelous dining experiences. And that all before we get to the gay nightlife which is amongst the best in the world…
Big, bold, brash and beautiful – Glittering Gay Los Angeles awaits…
Gay Los Angeles Guide: The Essential Guide To Gay Travel In Los Angeles California 2019
It’s already hard enough to pigeonhole Los Angeles’s LGBTQ scene by neighborhood or style, so as you would expect when it comes to other activities here, its next to impossible. This is the world’s capital of entertainment, however, so there is absolutely no shortage of things to-dos.
Beach days, hiking and cycling are popular, but equally so is laying by the pool, exploring the wonderful arts scene of Los Angeles or just heading to one of the (seemingly) all-day happy hours. If you plan to get a lot done car hire in Los Angeles is a very affordable option and popular to see more far-flung attractions. This is America after all and the car is king. But if you just want to explore the WeHo gaybourhood, downtown and a few other places – public transport and rideshare apps should be sufficient.
Naturally being gay does not define which attractions most of us will want to see in each destination and most queer travelers will simply want to check out the top things to see in Los Angeles during the day! We found our favorite memories were watching the sunset from a relaxing cocktail bar, dancing till dawn with our queer family, or laying out by the pool in our luxe Los Angeles hotel.
However, if you’re someone who can’t sit still, we have put together a few of our other things to do in this gay paradise that are sure to keep you busy!
Top Highlights in Los Angeles
Full-Day Iconic Sights of LA – From the Hollywood sign to the celebrity mansions of Beverly Hills, Los Angles is so full of iconic sights it can be tricky to see them all. This guided tour seamlessly transports you by coach to all of the city’s top attractions — from Santa Monica Pier to the Sunset Strip — so that you don’t need to worry about missing a thing. The perfect intro to LA for first-time visitors!
Horseback Riding Tour– The Hollywood Sign is an iconic Los Angeles attraction, and this horseback riding tour offers a memorable way to visit. Skip the crowded buses in favor of a small-group horseback riding tour that offers incredible views of not only the Hollywood Sign but also a panoramic vista of Los Angeles County.
YMLA / Block Party WeHo – The gayest store on Earth offering fashion-forward and quirky apparel, underwear, novelty goods and Pride gear all year round. Open til 2 am daily, we are certain there is something for everyone inside.
Crunch West Hollywood – The closest thing to a gay gym in LA and very popular with aspiring actors, Instagram influencers and models. If you want to know where all the boys are, this is likely it with cardio, spin classes, boot camps and plenty of gorgeous men. Oh my… You could also try Gold’ Gym in Hollywood for the bodybuilding crowd or SoulCycle West Hollywood. Honestly, any gym in WeHo will do just fine.
Out & About Tours / Lavander Effect – These guys will show you Gay LA as nobody has ever dared. From West Hollywood to Downtown and all points in between, their lively crew will not only show you a good time, but blow the dust off over a century of closeted stars, underground bars, and gay rights battle scars. Gay or straight, young or old, paper or plastic. There’s no other tour to book in Hollywood!
Andrew Christian Factory Store – While their flagship boutique store in WeHo might have closed, you can still grab some of this world-famous designer underwear, beloved by gay men, a short drive away in Glendale.
Runyon Canyon Park – A 160-acre park perfect for running with short and longer hiking trails. Because of its proximity to residential areas of Hollywood and the Hollywood Hills, celebrity sightings are common. Seriously, if you have an Insta-celeb you stalk in LA and they have posted a shirtless photo hiking in the hills – chances are it was here.
The Laugh Factory – A legendary comedy club where you can watch your favorite standup comedians in action with both seasoned and emerging talents. Among the comedians who have graced the stage here are LGBTQ legends and allies such as Ellen DeGeneres, Wanda Sykes, Kathy Griffin and a few other of our favorite lesbian comedians of all times!
Universal Studios Hollywood – Explore theme park rides, a real working movie studio, and some of Los Angeles’ best shops, restaurants, and cinemas or just go behind the scenes and see where Hollywood movies are made on the legendary Studio Tour. We are not going to claim this is more gay-popular than anything else, but the number of gay boys that start going live on Instagram when we arrived at Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives was illuminating…
Rough Trade Leather & Gear – Located in Silver Lake, this is the place to go to get your leather, rubber, and fetish fix if you have left your gear at home (or just happen to want something new).
Adonis Lounge – LA’s only gay strip club with shows every Wednesday night (9 pm) at Fubar in West Hollywood. The caliber of dancers is unmatched, as Adonis Lounge LA brings in weekly headliners, porn stars, special guest stars, bodybuilders and TOP talent from all across the country. You can also see these boys in Palm Springs and Gay Vegas!
Out of the Closet – The Hollywood location of one of the world’s most fabulous thrift store that donates $0.96 of every $1 to AIDS Healthcare Foundation. We loved that they also provide free HIV testing in-store with advanced testing technology and test results that are ready in 20 minutes or less. Go along, grab a bargain and support a worthy cause.
Grand Central Market – A downtown landmark since 1917, brings together the cuisines and cultures of LA. Perfect for cocktails, light bites or full meals, we recommend the Sarit’a Pupuseria for some of the best El Salvadorian food in the world, but there are so many options we are sure you won’t have trouble finding something.
Los Angeles Hop-On Hop-Off – Discover Los Angeles on your own terms thanks to this convenient hop-on, hop-off bus excursion covering the city’s top highlights. Enjoy the sun from the open top of your bus, offering 360-degree vistas of the surrounding landmarks. Best of all, your hop-on, hop-off excursion covers more than 50 locations throughout the city, including Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Hollywood and downtown L.A. You can also choose between a 24-, 48- and 72-hour ticket options and plenty of convenient departures, thanks to its 365-days-a-year operation schedule.
Will Rogers State Beach – The go-to Gay Beach in LA, though it’s quite expansive so you’ll need to go to 14801 Pacific Coast Highway to find the boys. Open-minded and fun, this is where the WeHo crowd go to cool off and enjoy sea breeze and sunshine.
Venice Beach – Sure, it’s not a particularly ‘gay spot’ but its oh-so-bohemian and filled with the muscled god / Adonis bodies we loved in Miami’s South Beach. Gawk at the boys, take in the street performers, photography colorful murals or just discover local foodie hotspots.
The Milk Shop – A very gay-popular ice cream parlor and bake shop located in the heart of DTLA. Providing dairy ‘queens’ – or really anyone – with an elevated ice cream experience, transporting guests back to the classic ice cream parlor with shakes, floats, sundaes and ice cream novelties.
TMZ Hollywood Celebrity Hot Spot Tour – Get an inside tour of Hollywood with TMZ during this 2-hour excursion. Participate in games, sing songs, watch videos, and win prizes while stopping at the hot spots where celebrities like to shop, party, and eat. There’s also a good chance you’ll run into a celebrity or two.
Go Los Angeles Card – Choose from between 1- to 7-Day Cards and visit as many Los Angeles attractions and scenic spots as you can. Pick from over 30 available attractions and schedule where you want to go at your own pace. Get to visit Universal Studios Hollywood, Six Flags, Knott’s Berry Farm, and many more!
Hollywood Food Tour– Get a taste for the delicious variety of Southern California’s food scene and its key attractions during this 4-hour, small-group Hollywood food tour. This is a combination walking and driving tour. The first hour is a historic walking tour and the remaining three hours you’ll be driven to various tasting stops, where the walking includes getting in and out of the van to the restaurants. A range of foodie delights gets the starring role during this culinary discovery of five different locales found along the Sunset Strip, Melrose and Hollywood.
L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center – Since 1969 the Los Angeles LGBT Center has cared for, championed, and celebrated LGBT individuals and families in Los Angeles and beyond. Today the Center’s more than 600 employees provide services for more LGBT people than any other organization in the world, offering programs, services, and global advocacy that span four broad categories: Health, Social Services, and Housing, Culture and Education, Leadership and Advocacy. An unstoppable force in the fight against bigotry and the struggle to build a better world, a world in which LGBT people can be healthy, equal, and complete members of society.
Pinks Hot Dogs – A Hollywood landmark since 1939, this hot dog stand serves over 2000 hot dogs and 200 hamburgers a day. Due to Pink’s unique menu, its historic age for an LA restaurant (78 years) and its celebrity patrons, it has now been featured in movies, TV shows, the food channel, the travel channel and travel books. While you are here, why not go to one of our favorite gay dive bars two doors up; Plaza Club.
Disneyland Park & Disney California – Fine, this is not exactly in WeHo or DTLA but what kind of gays would be if we didn’t recommend visiting the original Disneyland, the brainchild of Walt Disney and the only park built under his supervision. Try out all the classic Disney rides like Space Mountain, It’s a Small World, and Indiana Jones Adventure, dine in childhood fantasy locations and meet all your favorite Disney friends like Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, and more! You will have to hire a car (or take a ride-share) to get here, but it will absolutely be worth it. Oh and Gay Days Anaheim is a thing, just like we fell in love with in Disney Orlando.
New Year’s Eve Circuit Paty – A highlight of the annual gay events calendar in Los Angeles is undoubtedly this Masterbeat Circuit Event. Since it’s launch in 1996 as a dance compilation series focused on making hard to find dance mixes available on CD, Masterbeat has had one primary objective: making dance music accessible to the public. Over the years, Masterbeat has grown from a record label to DJ management, music website and most notably, an event production company that produces several special events per year, with it’s most famous being the annual Masterbeat New Year’s in Los Angeles which brings tens of thousands of people together to ring in the New Year to Masterbeat’s legendary countdown video. They also host another circuit event around Pride and have hosted events in Orlando, Miami, Mykonos, London, Madrid, Tel Aviv and more.
Simply diVine (April) – The premier food and wine event for LGBT people and their allies. at the iconic Hollywood Forever. Sample extraordinary food and drink from L.A.’s most popular restaurants, food trucks, wineries, distilleries, breweries, and more. All proceeds support the Center’s life-changing and life-saving programs and services.
DragCon (May) – RuPaul’s DragCon is an event celebrating everything drag, with events for anyone and everyone who loves a touch of fabulousness in their lives. The event is held in both New York and Los Angeles on a rotating basis and normally takes place in the Los Angeles Convention Cente. As the reigning queen of the drag world, RuPaul has established herself as one of the most prominent figures in all of pop culture. RuPaul’s Drag Race has brought LGBT and drag culture into the mainstream, and RuPaul is continuing this legacy with RuPaul’s DragCon, a thrilling event filled with sickening queens, Q&A’s, live performances and more gender-bending queerness than we can handle…BAM!
Outfest Los Angeles (June) – This is Hollywood so you just knew a gay film festival would have to feature! Founded by UCLA students in 1982, Outfest is the leading organization that promotes LGBTQ equality by creating, sharing and protecting LGBTQ stories on the screen. Their flagship event is Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival with eleven days of not to be missed world-class films, panels, and parties. Each summer Outfest Los Angeles screens more than 150 feature and short films to an audience more than 40,000 people. Outfest Los Angeles is the oldest film festival in Los Angeles and is considered the preeminent LGBTQ film festival in the world, screening at state-of-the-art venues around the city taking advantage of historic venues and industry exclusive theaters along with the newly remodeled, outdoor Ford Theater and REDCAT: Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater.
West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval (October) – Each year, the City of West Hollywood hosts its unparalleled Halloween Carnaval, one of the most supreme and exceptional Halloween gatherings in the world – and one you are never likely to forget. Launched in 1987, the event has grown year-by-year into an annual gathering of phenomenal costumes, entertainment, culture, and self-expression with a myriad of observers, revelers, exhibitionists, and performers. Expect plenty of wild club parties and unbelievable outfits that would put many Hollywood movies to shame!
Gay Days Anaheim (October) – Just like there are Gay Days At Disney Orlando, this is an unofficial event for gays and lesbians where 30,000 people mix and mingle at Disneyland over one weekend filled with parties, gatherings, group photos, scavenger hunts, private meals, and much more! They also now host a mini-event, normally in March. It’s not an Official Disney event, so the park is open to the general public – but all member and allies of the LGBT+ community go in red shirts to identify one another and show our numbers. Just when we thought Disney could not get any gayer!
LA Pride (June) – The biggest queer events in LA annually. For over 40 years, LA Pride has been a champion for equality, diversity, and inclusion in the LA community and beyond so why not time your trip to join the thousands who proudly support LA Pride each year and help make a positive and lasting impact. Besides the fabulous March, epic club events and an influx of gay visitors around the world, there is also cultural events, speeches, movie screenings, pool parties and more. Truly all-inclusive, LA Pride is amongst the best and biggest Pride Festivals in the world and well worth attending.
In this glorious and extremely liberal city, you will not find any major hotel accommodation that isn’t gay-friendly.
After all being gay-friendly is about providing a non-judgmental and respectful environment in which all people are treated equally. In saying that, elegant design, helpful staff, and excellent value for money never hurt anyone. Some hotels in Los Angeles have also gone above and beyond in recognizing and marketing to the LGBT community and given their popularity with gay travelers we would say it has paid off!
Everybody likes to be surrounded by people with common interests and as such a there a few hotels in Los Angeles favored by gay travelers – although to be clear there are no exclusively gay hotels in Los Angeles sadly.
The WeHo gaybourhood is at the forefront of LGBTQ+ inclusiveness in Los Angeles – and brimming with queer nightlife, gay-owned businesses and luxurious hotels whose names are recognized around the world. Another popular option is to stay in DTLA which has experienced a resurgence in recent years and now boasts many fabulous hotels, often within walking distance to the local gay scene.
The following gay-friendly hotels in Los Angeles are only the most recommended, but there are hundreds of other hotels in Los Angeles if you don’t find quite find what you are looking for. Whether you want a fun and social hostel, a cheap but private place to crash after a night of partying or a chic luxury option to sip cocktails surrounded by fashionable people, Gay Los Angeles as something for everyone!
Gay-Popular Hotels in WeHo
Montrose West Hollywood ☆☆☆☆☆ – One of the most gay-popular hotels in LA where upscale meets urban in residential style with luxe suites full of amenities – and all just steps from Sunset Strip and Beverly Hills. This newly revamped West Hollywood hotel boasts 133 residentially-styled and pet-friendly suites full of extravagance, modern decor, and contemporary art but there is a lot to love once you have left your room. Guests can take in stunning views of the LA skyline from the rooftop pool and bar, or get together with friends over dinner and drinks at the ultra-private restaurant and lounge – for guests only. There is also a stylish grab-and-go café, 24-hour fitness center, rooftop tennis court, Vino & Vinyl Wine Hour and everything that matters from dining, shopping, and nightlife a short stroll away. Consider us gagged!
The London West Hollywood ☆☆☆☆☆ – A tranquil oasis that combines cosmopolitan British elegance and laid-back California cool to create an unparalleled destination for a discerning new breed of luxury traveler. With spacious, all-suite accommodations, seamless service, inspired culinary options, and unrivaled amenities – included a rooftop pool with panoramic views of the city and beyond – this hotel is the ultimate urban refuge.
Andaz West Hollywood ☆☆☆☆☆ – As the first hotel on the Sunset Strip, Andaz West Hollywood attracted legendary rockers in the mid-60s. It now serves as an eclectic gateway to Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and other fashionable neighborhoods for everyone: gay, straight or unicorn. Elevate your LA experience at this iconic property reimagined for the modern day. With local art adorning the walls and Calcutta mosaics in the bath, the personality infused rooms with stunning views offers a unique, comfortable home base as you explore West Hollywood. There is also a fab rooftop pool to bask by with a hand-crafted cocktail and sweeping views of the Hollywood Hills. Simply iconic, and darling we are here for it!
Petit Ermitage ☆☆☆☆ – Surround yourself in the Bohemian chic ambiance of this weird and wonderful hotel, a contemporary hideaway outfitted with inspired artwork and designs + a heated saltwater pool with 360-degree views over the Hollywood Hills. Embrace the gypsy spirit at their craft cocktail bar or relax in the private rooftop garden filled with hummingbirds and butterflies. Then there is the sunken fire pits, rooftop film screenings, morning yoga and an assortment of rather unorthodox amenities that gay guests seem to absolutely love. Petit Ermitage isn’t just a Hotel, its an escapade, curated on a daily and nightly basis to ensure you come away with either unforgettable memories or no memory of anything at all whatsoever.
Le Parc Suite Hotel ☆☆☆☆ – A stylish West Hollywood retreat well known to rising stars and trendsetting celebrities. Le Parc blends quiet comfort with easy access to the city’s most glamorous attractions including Boystown in WeHo. The suites are spacious with private balconies, kitchenettes, fireplaces, and fully stocked mini-bars, while the Skydeck offers a relaxing getaway with divine cocktails. There is also a free local area shuttle, intimate bistro, heated pool, and rooftop tennis court. A boutique hotel near, well, everything!
Ramada WeHo ☆☆☆☆ – Right in the gay heart of LA, this affordable hotel offers the best value, best location, and best overall choice for many gay travelers to WeHo! Seriously, just take a look around when you check in. Fronting lively Santa Monica Boulevard this art-deco inspired hotel has contemporary rooms, a trendy 24-7 restaurant, sundeck, palm-tree shaded pool and fitness center. Better yet? The onsite Starbucks to get that iced coffee to go, because is it really a day in WeHo without iced coffee?
Gay-Popular Hotels in DTLA
The Standard ☆☆☆☆☆ – Originally constructed as the headquarters of Superior Oil, The Standard, Downtown LA is Mid-Century California architecture par excellence. And there is absolutely nothing at all ‘standard’ about it. Smack-dab in the center of booming Downtown Los Angeles, the 207-room hotel features massive guest rooms, a rooftop pool, and bar with stunning panoramic views of LA, an intimate rooftop garden bar, and a stellar 24-hour restaurant. There is also a quarry’s worth of marble on the façade and covering the lobby, which is, well, very impressive. Much like their amazing NYC Highline location, there is so much going on there we could scarcely hope to cover it all – but suffice to say if you love quirky events and avant-garde design this is the place for you!
The Los Angeles Athletic Club ☆☆☆☆ – A boutique hotel that occupies the top three floors of a 12-story historic landmark private club building. A stay at this historic private club is an entirely unique experience. Collapse onto cool cotton sheets after a rigorous game of squash. Rejuvenate in the fabulous spa with an indulgent steam or massage, and indulge in one of their signature cocktails offered at the award-winning bar.
Ace Hotel ☆☆☆☆ – Opened in early 2014 in the historic United Artists this hotel is uniquely LA with Industrial-chic rooms, a buzzing rooftop pool with a bar, fab juice shop, gym, and glorious 1920s Spanish Gothic-style theatre. You know, the one where RuPaul’s Drag Race finale is normally formed. Doesn’t get much gayer than that…
InterContinental ☆☆☆☆☆ -Elevate your expectations with 360-degree breathtaking views of the legendary California sunset from the tallest building west of Chicago. Check-in on the70th-floor sky lobby and enjoy world-class dining atop miles of glass and steel shaped 73 stories high, rising 1,100 feet above street level. This structure not only redefines the L.A. skyline but also reflects the glamour and exhilaration that define what it means to stay at an InterContinental property, with its rich, storied history and a promise of only the most luxurious amenities, attentive service and expansive suites. InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown awaits.
The Ritz-Carlton L.A. Live ☆☆☆☆☆ – Immerse yourself in the glamour and sophistication of downtown Los Angeles from the moment you step inside this luxury hotel. Located at L.A. LIVE, The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles emanates the cinematographic luxury of a Hollywood film. Relax in airy guest rooms, see and be seen at the rooftop pool and sit down to dinner at WP24, the acclaimed restaurant with skyline views by Wolfgang Puck. Here, as in Los Angeles itself, dreams can become reality and everything that glitters is gold.
Freehand Los Angeles ☆☆☆– Housed in the historic Commercial Exchange building, this local hotel in downtown Los Angeles is truly one-of-a-kind, featuring suites, premium hotel rooms and shared accommodations with interiors designed by Roman & Williams. Often named one of the world’s best hostels, Freehand is taking it up a notch in LA, offering upgraded amenities including enhanced bedding, room service, convenient valet and attentive bellman ready to give you a hand. Seriously, if you are on a budget but still want to live the A-lister life, this is an amazing option. It is so LA to fake it til you make it after all.
Other Gay-Popular Hotels in Los Angeles
Hotel Shangri-La ☆☆☆☆☆ – Reminiscent of Hollywood’s Golden Age with its curving ocean liner-inspired architecture and whimsical Art Deco design, Hotel Shangri-La at the Ocean has been welcoming guests to the beach since 1939. Boasting one of the best locations in downtown Santa Monica, the hotel is walking distance to the beach, Santa Monica Pier and iconic restaurants. Tempt yourself with some of the fabulous Santa Monica gay parties, or stay in with chic, minimalist rooms, a poolside spa, private cabanas, and swanky rooftop bar.
The Garland ☆☆☆☆ – A luxury Universal Studios Hotels offering an urban oasis, secluded within seven lush acres, yet minutes from excitement and thrills of LA. If you want a gay-popular hotel option in the valley, this is it! Bright sun pours in from floor to ceiling windows. An open fireplace warms cool California nights. Artisanal cocktails and farm fresh eats await your request. Welcoming and warm, yet distinctively retro, this is the California dream come true. Every design detail has been handpicked to evoke the whimsy and thoughtful aesthetic of a bygone era – and it safe to say we are not the only ones who are in love with the Garland.
The Tangerine ☆☆☆ – Loaded with style, this boutique hotel in Burbank is within a short drive or rideshare to Universal Studios Hollywood and offers very affordable rates – especially when booked in advance. Part retro. Part modern. 100% cool. The Tangerine is a refreshing burst of color and energy in the Valley with Hollywood-style rooms decorated with original wall murals and contemporary art.
Hotel Silver Lake Los Angeles ☆☆☆ – A budget hotel near the Silver Lake gay scene with unique inviting hotel rooms, free daily breakfast, and a small pool to relax by. Its nothing inspired, but the price tag gives you a lot of reasons to love it here.
Hi Hostel Santa Monica ☆☆☆ – Escape the hustle-and-bustle of urban LA with a refreshing stay at this modern hostel just two blocks from the picturesque Santa Monica Beach. With cafes, art, shopping, and nightlife aplenty on your doorstep – and a weekly farmers market + light rail stop, its no wonder so many budget-conscious travelers opt for this welcoming hostel. The biggest purpose-built hostel in the USA, there is spacious dorms, well-designed private rooms, free breakfast fast Wifi and a range of activities each day (and night) to help you enhance your travel experience. The staff are some of the most friendly we have ever come across as well, so if you have any questions about the local nightlife – be sure to ask them first!
Gay Nightlife in Los Angeles California
With Los Angeles being one of the most gay-friendly vacation destinations in the world, you would expect an incredible gay nightlife scene – and luckily Los Angeles does not disappoint.
Depending on your mood you can find anything here from a relaxed cocktail in an upscale bar to an all-night dance party surrounded by your queer family. There is also plenty of cruise/dive bars, sexy go-go boys, fabulous drag, fun events and – well, something to cater for every taste!
While West Hollywood is undoubtedly the gay epicenter of greater Los Angeles, there are also over significant gaybourhoods for interest including Silver Lake and Downtown LA (DTLA) – as well as Long Beach which we have covered separately. Being such a huge city, there are plenty of other gay bars around, so use our gay map of LA at the end if you want to find the nearest to you.
Later at night, most gay bars and clubs are packed from 10 pm until into the early morning, with a mix of tourists and locals. With a vibrant – and diverse – local LGBT community and a wonderfully gay-friendly liberal populace, you can imagine distinguishing ‘gay bars’ can something difficult, which is fabulous since you know you will be welcomed as you are basically everywhere here. For the following gay venues, however, we were looking for rainbow events, exceptional recommendations, and spots specifically marketed towards gays.
We are sure you will not be disappointed.
WeHo Gay Bars
The Abbey – A world-famous gay bar, restaurant, and nightclub home to come of LA’s biggest LGBT events. The Abbey’s beautiful cocktails and light bits, plus chic gothic décor and lively lounge vibes, are one of the reasons Abbey is often known as one of the world’s best gay bars – and make it a staple of the local scene. The Abbey reminded us of the infamous Church in Amsterdam, except significantly more classy…Great music, friendly beautiful crowds, late night gogos and drag brunch’s, there is something for everyone here and we are absolutely living for it!
The Chapel – A spin-off of the Abbey with the same extraordinary design aesthetics and high-energy atmosphere. A local gayborhood watering hole almost connected to the Abbey (but currently not due to bureaucratic red tap), offering the same divine drinks and upscale vibes – just without any food.
Mother Lode – A WeHo dive bar staple that has stood the test of time since 1979 with a persistent combination of strong drinks, good music, and neighborhood vibes. Highlights are karaoke on Thursdays and their “Invade The Hole” Tuesdays with hot go-go’s, booty bass DJs and plenty of homos at play.
Flaming Saddles – A Wild-West themed gay bar in WeHo providing the all-male version of Coyote Ugly. Amazingly friendly bartenders and dancers, 2 dance floors and an all-welcoming environment. What’s not to love? Serving us country-western queer liberation the likes of which we became obsessed with in Austin and Nashville, with events most nights of the week drawing in the crowds
Rage – A long-standing West Hollywood nightclub offering a variety of after dark entertainment and a wide selection of food to choose from at its restaurant. Whether you’re out to show your moves on a DJ-fuelled dance floor or just to make friends and witness some world-class drag shows, Rage has you covered. An under 21 club – the only 18+ spot on the WeHo strip – so if you are younger it’s a great way to experience the LA gay scene every night of the week.
Micky’s – Conveniently located in the heart of Boys Town on Santa Monica Boulevard, this pulsating 2-floor night club can fit up to 1,000 gorgeous men who flock here for the large dance floor, epic sound system, laser lights, g and glorious party vibes. The main area features two full-service bars, a large open patio, and a dance floor while the second floor features another bar and an incredible terrace with views. High-energy, strong drinks, weekday drag shows and 4 AM weekend closing time mans Micky’s will continue to be one of the most popular gay clubs in LA for years to come…
Hamburger Mary’s – So much more than just a neighborhood burger joint, this LGBT hotspot not only offers big & juicy gourmet burgers, house-brewed beers and strong cocktails, they also put on weekend drag shows and charity “HamBingo,” cabaret theatre events, trivia, and so much more! Come on in to eat – all served up with a side of sass – and stick around for one of their nightly events. We have loved visiting previous locations in Orlando, Denver and Las Vegas, and would never consider leaving a city that hosts Mary without stopping in to say hi!
St Felix – A hassle-free nightspot with intimate vibes perfect for elevated cocktails (including a watermelon martini that you just have to try) and small bar bites. They have two locations, one in Hollywood and the other in WeHo. If you are looking for a place to start the night out with conversation, spirts and food St. Felix is never a bad choice. The secret is out however so if you want a table then its best to make reservations ahead of time.
Gym Sportsbar – The first and only gay sports bar in Los Angeles with TV’s tuned to sports, a sociable happy hour and happening party vibe later at night. You won’t find go-go boys or drag shows here, but they do have one of the best Happy Hours in WeHo with different deals each night before 9 pm on weekdays.
Fubar – This is not your father’s gay bar, but an edgy East Village gay bar uprooted to WeHo with dark and sexy interiors and the party-ready, alternative crowd. With side-splitting drag queens and smoldering gogos on their weekends Adonis Lounge parties, why not stop by and say Hi?
Fiesta Cantina – A bouncing gay hangout serving us strong beachy vibes ala Cancun or Puerto Vallarta with great Mexican to match. A WeHo original that has since expanded to San Diego’s Gay Village, they are famous for their daily Happy Hours where they serve 2-4-1 ‘double the fun’ on drinks from 4 to 8 pm and again from 10:30 pm to 12: 30 am every day! Go for the Mega Margaritas, eccentric atmosphere, Taco Tuesdays or to take advantage of the extra large HD flat screens for the big game or (as we prefer) Drag Race viewing parties. The original West Hollywood location at the corner of Santa Monica and San Vicente brings the beach to you, right in the heart of the “Gayborhood”
V Wine Room – West Hollywood’s first urban boutique wine and handcrafted beer tasting room, extremely popular with the LGBT crowd. Unique wines in a fun setting – themed around a historic library – mixed with education and ambiance.
The Bayou – A relaxed and funky dive bar with a New Orleans theme serving food with a Cajun twist, craft cocktails and twice-daily happy hours from 4-8 pm then 10.30 pm to 12.30 am. Perfect for starting your night out in Boystown – and even more appealing if you like hot bartenders, shitty Pop singalongs and kitschy realness that is the antithesis of otherwise hoity-toity West Hollywood.
Gold Coast Bar – A self-effacing gay dive bar with a cheap happy hour + late-night drink specials. A good place to fall into, order a few rounds and make a plan of attack – or to meet for a quiet conversation.
Revolver – A staple in WeHo’s boys town for over 30 years and known for having the ‘friendliest staff on the boulevard’. Weekdays offer happy hour, karaoke and drag shows while weekends turn up the heat with live DJ’s, gogo dancers and laser light shows!
Silver Lakes Gay Bars
Eagle LA – An enduring gay hot spot in Silver Lakes drawing in leather-clad daddies with cheap beer nights, friendly bartender and weekend DJ music. Significantly more diverse and inclusive than many other Eagle bars around the world with fun events like the Rocky Leather Horror Show and ELA Mr. Leather competitions annually. The current location of Eagle LA has served home to many gay bars over the years dating back 44 years. It was known as the Shed from 1968-1972 The Outcast from 1972-1983, the famous Gauntlet II from 1983-2005, then later, Eagle LA. Whether you are in town for business or pleasure, leave some time to check out all of the hottest leather events Eagle LA has to offer.
Faultline Bar – A Silver Lake institution features a large outdoor patio, an indoor lounge, and two bars. A leather-popular gay bar with cruisy bathrooms, though these days its more trendy now than fetish with a change of ownership, except when they pay homage to their routes with a Tom Of Finland event. We have seen drag shows and daddy bear’s voguing here, so its really a mixed bag depending on the night but always wonderfully fun. Faultline also hosts the granddaddy of all L.A. Beer Busts every Sunday, rain or shine, from 2 pm to 9 pm.
Akbar – A unpretentious and truly alternative Silver Lakes bar with a small dance floor, jukebox and well-rounded roster of events. Very punk/rock’n’roll with a little something for everyone – including the delicious cocktails, cute bartenders and different interior décor.
Casita del Campo – A local fixture in Silver Lakes since 1962 serves classic Mexican fare in a colorful space with indoor seating and a relaxed patio. Specializing in delicious margarita, made with fresh lime juice, with so many flavor options including apple, peach, melon, strawberry, and banana. Housed in a bright pink building, Casita del Campo is not necessarily gay but has a fiercely loyal LGBT following dating back to the days when its neighbors were gay bathhouses and leather bars. The area might be a lot trendier these days, but their welcoming to all attitude has kept the gays coming back for more.
Dance Yourself Clean @ The Satellite– An Indie-Pop dance party created by music lovers, for music lovers. What started as a small party in a tiny bar in Seattle has grown to a massive movement spanning the US from coast to coast in Portland, NYC, Seattle, and LA. LGBT welcoming, but very much mixed, Dane Yourself Clean is held every Saturday at The Satellite in Silver Lakes from 9 pm to 2 am.
DTLA Gay Bars
The New Jalisco Bar – A quintessential gay dive bar perfectly positioned as an alternative when the line for Precinct around the corner is too long to stomach. A real hole-in-the-wall but with hilarious drag shows, tacos, no attitude, and cheap drinks. Popular with Latino men, we had such a blast here and were ready to jump back across the border to Monterrey and Guadalajara after just a few hours!
Precinct – A rock’n’roll queer bar in DTLA serving spacious, red-brick realness along with a fierce line up of events and killer cocktails. One of the stand-out events is Queen Kong, produced by the Boulet Brothers every Friday with some of the world’s best drag acts – a true queer stage show spectacular. A homo party palace, Precinct has helped to solidify the growing DLTA gay scene but remains wonderfully inclusive with drag queens, late night dancing, bear nights, trivia and more – plus there are cheap pub bites so there really is something for everyone.
Redline – one of DTLA’s newest gay bars and restaurants located in the heart of the Historic Core in Downtown Los Angeles. Magnificent music, handsome bartenders, modern design and delicious cocktails walking the line between intimate lounge and happening club depending on the night and event. We loved the Shenanigans Drag brunch on the first Sunday of every month and Poundcake Friday with its pre-party Power Hour from 9 til 10 pm. There is also epic drag shows every Wednesdays from some of LA’s top drag talents or up-and-coming names.
The Lash – An alternative urban nightlife spot in the Toy District offering a range of LGBT events from goth and fetish parties to some of the top RuPaul Drag Queen alumni. Always trendy with unique cocktails, a wonderfully designed dance space and a separate, more intimate bar space. Inclusive, obsessed with consent and oh-so-progressive the Lash is the future of gay venues and we cannot get enough!
Other Gay Bars Around Los Angeles
Oil Can Harrys – One of the oldest gay-owned and operated bars in Los Angeles fuelled by dancing queens and strong drinks. Always an amazing time gay or straight, disco lover or not! As they say, there’s magic in that can! Unpretentious with karaoke upstairs and line dancing lessons on some weeknights, we love this Studio City gay bar for simple fun and a fun/mixed LGBT who all just want to have fun.
Plaza Club – A bit of a hidden gem in Hollywood that has been open for 35 years, but plenty of locals don’t even know this dive bar exists. Know for their multiple drag shows every night, this Latino hot spot is welcoming to everyone and entirely worth the trip thanks to its cheap shots, spicy margaritas, and incredibly friendly vibes. Don’t be nervous! Oh, and the historic Pink’s Hotdogs is just a few doors down for food before or after.
Cobra – A animated gay Latin club in North Hollywood with three bars, busy dance floor, and popular theme parties. Especially known for their Trans-Fix Thursdays. On the weekends its all go-go boys, drag queens, drink specials and Spanish music much like their other club, Chico, which we loved!
The Hook-Up – If you happen to be as far out as Pomona, this old-school neighborhood gay haunt has daily drink specials, fun theme nights, pool and a welcoming local crowd. Typical dive bar with good music, friendly staff and karaoke every Wednesday.
Green Horse Nightclub – A no-frills bar and club in Inglewood with old-school funk & hip hop music, a busy dance floor and a local LGBT crowd. Recently remodeled, their Taco Tuesday is off-the-chain and the best time to visit, though the strong pours and friendly smiles of Rosa the Bartender means we could always be tempted back.
The BirdCage – The hottest new gay bar in Santa Monica. Located on the top floor of The Victorian, this gay bar is full of fun vibes and delicious cocktails. The chill atmosphere and chic decor make for the perfect place to have a night out with all of your friends (or make new ones). Dress up, or stay casual, either way, you are sure to enjoy yourself among the lovely crowd of socialites. The Birdcage is a place for guests to be free so that they can let their personality shine while having the best night of their life. Come shake your booty on the dance floor to all your favorite hits. If you need a little break from the dance floor or would like a quieter place to enjoy some small talk, you can always hang out on the patio. Vodka lovers have to try the Beauty Mark cocktail hand shaken with lemon, almond, mint, soda, and Angostura. If you want to try something unusual, look no further than the La Rosa Blanca with tequila, lime, agave, rose, Aperol, and elderflower.
Unity Sungays @ Circle Bar – The go-to Santa Monica party destination since 1949 with upscale decor, ambiance, music, and most importantly, service. What makes the Circle Bar unique is that it outlives trends that come and go, having the same floor plan since it opened in 1949, patrons know what to expect when they arrive – a really good time. The neighborhood may change, the music here and there, but the spirit of Circle Bar will live forever. Circle Bar now hosts an LGBT night every Sunday. From gogos to drink specials, this is where the red lights are always on… and the Westside boys (and girls) come to drink, dance, and have a fun time!
Alibi East & Back Alley Bar – Located between the glamour of Hollywood and the hot desert fun of Palm Springs, The Alibi East, for over 35 years has served as a waypoint and watering hole for the GLBTQ communities of Pomona. There is a fun Taco Tuesday, occasional underwear party, smoking patio, two dance floors, two bars, and uber-cute bartenders so if you are in the area your sure to have a great night here.
Catch One – Opened in 1973, the longest-running black gay dance bar in Los Angeles. It was briefly called Union but has since reverted back to the original Catch One name. Two levels of dance spaces and bars known for having some of the best music in town with epic disco, house, EDM and trance nights though we personally love Catch One for old school hip hop nights. Young crowds, strong drinks, and so much energy. Located right on the border of Koreatown; north of the 10 freeway.
C Frenz – A low-key gay bar & club offering daily happy-hour specials, beautiful go-go dancers and plenty of themed parties. Located in Reseda, across the hills in the Valley, it’s very popular with locals so somewhat clicky – and rundown – but the drinks are cheap and very strong, with surprisingly hilarious drag shows. Worth a visit if you are staying nearby, but not necessarily the trip out otherwise.
Silver Platter – A fun alternative gay pub to simply hang out while having a beer. Close to MacArthur Park and recently remodeled, pop in to wet your whistle and start a conversation with locals.
The Bullet Bar– A no attitude gay bar in North Hollywood catering to leather/fetish/BDSM men with a long Happy Hour from Noon to 8 pm daily. People actually talk to each other here, so its great arrive early, meet some new friends and stay till later in the night when the Bullet definitely has more of a nightclub feel. Strong drinks and a very non-LA gay bar feel, which makes it extremely popular with their locals.
Roosterfish – Roosterfish was one LA bars specifically for the LGBT community and although it was closed and now completely remodeled the new owners have kept its namesake in respect to the history Roosterfish has undergone. Today very much open to all (it’s hardly gay these days), we still loved the happy hour specials, kitschy design and found Roosterfish a great way to quench our thirst after a day out in Venice Beach before moving on to greener – and gayer – pastures.
Artesia Bar – South Bay’s only LGBT Bar located in Redondo Beach, with a fun and festive vibe. On Sunday and Thursday evenings there is a popular Karaoke night and DJs on the weekend which is significantly more dancey.
Club Tempo – A Latin gay cowboy nightclub in East Hollywood renown for their muscular go-go boys, daily drink specials and drag shows. Cash-only (though drinks are very reasonably priced), with three dance floors and a social patio with tacos!!!
Club Chico – One of the best Latino gay bar in Los Angeles located in Montebello. Energetic with strong drink, throwback tunes and a popping Lustful Saturday’s party with some of the most beautiful go-go’s we have ever seen. Seriously, we’d come for these boys alone. There are drag shows on Wednesday, but always a crowd without attitude or pretense which is such a relief in Gay Los Angeles where many clubs often feel more like a zoo full of peacocks.
The Boulevard – A fun gay watering hole in Pasadena with a high-tech karaoke system and camp, gay anthems blasting every night of the week until 2 am. Warm up those vocal cords darling, because a night out here is guaranteed to end with you singing at the top of your lungs with no-judgment and plenty of new friends by your side.
Tigerheat Thursday @ Avalon – One of the largest, weekly LGBT events on the West Coast, this gay club take over pulls in 1000+ party animals for their weekly dose of hot pop music spun by award-winning DJ Ray Rhodes. Watch your favorite music videos on multiple screens, or just stare at the super-sexy gogo dancers, we won’t blame you either way. There is no better way to get your weekend started early! Located at Hollywood & Vine.
Cruising In Los Angeles
If you’re a fan of anonymous fun, steamy encounters or a bit of kink then you will find a lot to love in Los Angeles, which has more gay sex clubs and bathhouses than any other location in the US. Trust us, it won’t seem like the City of Angels after this…
If your visiting from outside of the USA you should know that the gay sauna culture is not very prevalent in the USA and in no way as popular or as high-quality as you might find in international destinations such as Vienna, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Lisbon or Paris. So while there is naughty fun to be had in Gay Los Angeles, set your expectations accordingly.
With such a high LGBT+ population, you just know there has to be pretty of action going down here – and you can join in by either downloading a gay hook up app, going to the few remaining Los Angeles bathhouses, checking out one of the gay cruise bars or just trying your luck at the Los Angeles gay beaches.
Gay sauna or not, in any sexual encounter, please take adequate precautions. No matter what your intentions are in while traveling, you should bring your own condoms and lube to play it safe. Take home a hot guy or a hot memory, not an STD.
Besides, you never know what other fun surprises your trip might have in store for you...
Midtowne Spa – A large 24/7 bath house in the LA Downtown close to the hipster Arts District and Skid Row which also has locations in nearby Long Beach and Denver. Don’t be put off by its industrial location or surroundings – inside is one of the best-designed saunas we have ever encountered with large open spaces, private rooms, lockers, gym, sundeck, steam room + dry sauna, whirlpool, video lounge and more. There is events for specific tribes most days, friendly service and always lots of action. Around a 25-minute walk from most of the big business hotel in the Downtown, but it is much better to take advantage of the secure parking onsite or catch a taxi since the area is a bit rough. Don’t miss the amazing skyline view from the roof!
Hollywood Spa – A well-located gay bathhouse in North Hollywood (a short walk from the metro station) with private rooms, large gym, steam room, dry sauna, XXX cinema, lockers, and a tropical sundeck. It’s quite a bit more expensive than Roman Holiday, however, with less clean facilities and the same unfriendly staff.
Flex Spa – A popular gay sauna in East Hollywood, especially given its proximity to LA’s gay leather hotspots – like the Eagle and Faultline Bar – meaning the crowds here often jump over later at night. Not the cleanest, but by no means the worst with private rooms, a small outdoor pool, steam room, and video lounges. A nice variety of guys, helpful staff and clean facilities make this a popular option though we prefer Midtowne Spa. Flex also has locations in Cleveland, Phoenix, and Atlanta.
Roman Holiday – A basic gay sauna in Santa Monica offering a sauna, steam room, whirlpool spa, showers, lockers, private changing rooms, and sun deck. Known for attracting an older crowd, Roman Holiday has been operating for over 50 years though in this time they seem have learnt very little about customer service as the staff is quite unfriendly here, at least everything was relatively clean.
Roman Holiday Health Club II – Another location of this gay sauna chain, less conveniently located in Van Nuys, a neighborhood in the central San Fernando Valley. Slightly bigger and more welcoming in our experience, with an indoor lap pool, whirlpool, steam room, dry sauna, lockers, private changing rooms, and sun deck.
Gay Sex Clubs In Los Angeles
Slammer – A very industrial, dark and heavy gay sex club about one thing and one thing only. Inside you can find bath tubes, glory holes, slings, lockers and more and a good mix of guys to play with. Located just one block from the Vermont / Beverly Station metro station in Koreatown, be sure to check nightly events in advance to know what you are getting yourself into. This is hard-core cruising and not for everyone…
The Zone LA – One of the most popular sex club for men in Southern California just a mile from all the gay venues of WeHo. Everyone we meet recommended the Zone to us and let us just say, we were not disappointed! The Zone offers two huge floors of mazes, private booths, BJ bullpens, and stalls, along with a TV lounge and patio for relaxation. While most guys keep their clothes on while cruising you can go nude if you want with lockers and coat/wallet check are available. Free condoms and lube are always provided, and an assortment of other accessories are available for purchase – plus they are always open late until 6 am! A good mix of guys, younger and longer, all looking for different things and the closest in LA you get to the fabulous kink scene of places like Berlin, Madrid or Prague.
Just add an adventurous attitude and plenty of smiles - they go a long way - and that about covers it all! Now go out, find your global rainbow family and don't forget to share your best gay stories with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram...We'd love to hear from you!