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Los Angeles Gay Travel

Year-round sunshine, a huge gay population and famous gay bars make Los Angeles gay travel an easy choice. Read on for where to stay, the best gay bars, Los Angeles’ gay neighborhood & more.

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The Gay Travel Experience: Los Angeles, California

Greater Los Angles is huge. There are tons of options for the gay traveler in Southern California, from chill days along the coast to the bustling LA gay nightlife.

Imagine yourself cruising down Sunset Strip on your way to the West Hollywood gay neighborhood under the warm California sun. Catch a sunset on the beach and then plop yourself in a stylish cocktail bar after dark before heading out on the town.
gay travel in Los Angeles
gay travel in Los Angeles
California things to do

Southern California is home to a massive gay community. Many gay celebrities naturally call Los Angeles home. While strolling through the LA gayborhood, its common to see adorable public displays of affection. Stylish gay men are everywhere!

California things to do
West Hollywood attracts tons of gay tourists every year and has a very concentrated local gay population. WeHo is super popular for quick access to nightlife and a visible, vibrant LGBT community.

Gay Los Angeles: Where to Stay

I’m sure you have a few questions about LA…What is the best area for gay travelers to stay in Los Angeles? What is the best beach town in LA? Where should you stay to be close to WeHo nightlife? 

where to stay in Los Angeles

Location in Los Angeles is key, since heavy traffic can make travel times balloon. I’ll help you get oriented to make your Los Angeles gaycation perfect.

Best Los Angeles Neighborhoods for Gay Travelers

Firstly, the most interesting parts of greater LA stretch from downtown Los Angeles, located about 30 minutes inland from the ocean, to the Santa Monica area, a wonderful beach community along the coast. Between downtown LA and Santa Monica, you have West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City and other smaller communities.
LA neighborhoods for gay travelers
where to stay in Los Angeles
LA neighborhoods for gay travelers
There is a ton to explore in Los Angeles. Renting a car will make day trips and moving around much easier. You will need a car if you want to explore most major attractions, drive to great beaches and more. However, if renting a car is not an option, you can still have a fantastic time by keeping activities local and exploring select gay attractions in the West Hollywood area.

Where to Stay in WeHo (West Hollywood)

WeHo is the Los Angeles gay district. Los Angeles gay travel is not complete without a visit! Gay men stroll Santa Monica Boulevard under the California sun past the dozens of restaurants, storefronts and gyms. Both Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue are great hotel locations. Both streets are lively day and night.
gay travel Los Angeles WeHo
gay travel Los Angeles WeHo
Los Angeles sunset

Santa Monica Boulevard has more of the Los Angeles “gay neighborhood” feel, while Melrose Avenue feels sort of like a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York City. Melrose Avenue is lined with hundreds of boutique shops and unique restaurants. I adore both!

Los Angeles sunset
If you choose an Airbnb in West Hollywood, you might prefer to choose something in walking distance to the gay bars to make things more convenient. Otherwise, a short Lyft ride is cheap and staying anywhere in the general WeHo area will be suitable.
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Where to Stay in Beverly Hills, California

For a more luxurious experience, set your sights on the famous 90210 American zip code of Beverly Hills. Beverly Hills is the perfect location to stay since you have West Hollywood only a short drive away by car as well as easy access to the ocean and Pacific Coast Highway via Santa Monica Boulevard.
gay hotel Beverly Hills
gay hotel Beverly Hills
Los Angeles restaurants breakfast

For a portion of my visit in the LA area, I stayed at the SLS Hotel on the border of Beverly Hills and WeHo. This boutique luxury hotel was absolutely perfect, with a ton of eye-catching features like sliding mirror-walls in the rooms and provocative art in the hallways. The staff is friendly and they embody the chill California vibe. They have stellar breakfast options and a relaxing pool deck. I highly recommend!

Los Angeles restaurants breakfast
West LA, Westwood and Century City are also great areas for gay travelers to stay in Los Angeles. I often visit friends who live in Westwood. This neighborhood has a ton of Persian and Indian restaurants that are quite cheap! The Westwood location is great, similar to that of Beverly Hills but less flashy.

Staying in Downtown LA

I recommend avoiding accommodations in the downtown Los Angeles area. The heart and soul of Los Angeles gay culture is in West Hollywood and beachfront communities like Santa Monica. The downtown is quite commercial and, in my opinion, can be a bit boring. It is a little isolated from all the fun activities LA has to offer.

Los Angeles Experiences for the Gay Traveler

Runyon Canyon is my favorite park in Los Angeles. Locals love Runyon Canyon Park for beautiful trails and wide-open spaces. You can go for a casual walk here or decide to go for a steep hike to the top.
I love going a couple hours before sunset, heading to the top of one of the smaller peaks and walking down as the sun sets. Runyon Canyon is definitely the best place to hike in Los Angeles!
Runyon canyon Los Angeles
best hotels in LA
LA mall century city

The Getty Museum is fantastic place to spend an afternoon. The space is enormous and there is so much to explore. I love the beautiful vistas from the wide-open terraces. Try to get there earlier in the day to avoid lines and/or waiting in the hot summer sun.

will rogers state park LA

If you have rented a car and you love driving along winding roads, then Latigo Canyon is for you. An intensely scenic drive, Latigo Canyon Road hugs the mountainsides at a high elevation. You can see the beaches of Malibu and captivating vistas from these heights. It is quite a thrilling ride!

best hotels in LA
Will Rogers State Historic Park, popular with the gay locals, is a great place to relax and take in some sun in a grassy field. Will Rogers Park is perfect for quiet walks in a wooded area or to have a little picnic with friends.

Visit Santa Monica

Santa Monica is a relaxing and fun area to hang out on a spring or summer day. Santa Monica Boulevard right near the Santa Monica State Beach is a vibrant and walkable area with a ton of restaurants and shopping. Stroll the boulevard and then head over to the Santa Monica Pier! The area is still very lively after dark.
LA mall century city
will rogers state park LA
Runyon canyon Los Angeles

Abbott Kinney Boulevard

Abbott Kinney Boulevard is a beautiful street near Venice Beach to shop, grab snacks or have a classy early dinner! Local foodies love Abbott Kinney! They have a monthly event called “First Friday” where high-quality food trucks line the streets before sunset. Learn more about Abbott Kinney on their website.

Restaurants in Los Angeles

My top recommendation for Los Angeles restaurants is Auburn, located in the Melrose neighborhood. At Auburn you choose four, six or nine dishes from a selection of small plates. Everything is so perfectly crafted.

Los Angeles melrose restaurants
They offer a wine pairing option as well to go with every course. I (happily) almost couldn’t keep up. I recommend going for the wine pairing and skipping the cocktails here.
Los Angeles melrose restaurants
auburn Los Angeles

The brand-new Century City Mall is a beautiful complex to spend a relaxing evening with friends or by yourself. There are tons of restaurants and unique little shops amongst the big brands there. The mall has an Eataly, which is very popular with the locals for dinner.

auburn Los Angeles
If you have time, make a reservation at Din Tai Fung Taiwanese Restaurant in the Century City Mall. The food was out of this world. Din Tai Fung is super popular, especially on weekends. It’s best to go put your name in, do some shopping and come back afterward for dinner.
gay travel Los Angeles brunch
gay travel Los Angeles brunch
Santa Monica restaurant

Craving amazing soup dumplings in LA? Northern Café in Westwood has the best dumplings around. A casual Chinese place best for lunch or an early dinner, I promise you will not regret making a trip here. It is so delicious!

Santa Monica restaurant

Plan Check Kitchen & Bar is perfect for a cocktail-filled brunch. Located in Sawtelle, Plan Check has indoor and outdoor seating, a ton of soul food and great service. They are known for their fried chicken! I really liked the spicy custom cocktails too.

Digest afterward by taking a walk through Japan Town. There are a lot of bubble tea shops and fun storefronts to browse.

Downtown LA Lunch Recommendations

If you are in Downtown Los Angeles, check out Botega Louie. The entrees are delectable and the pastries are so adorable! Botega Louie is great for lunch or a small pastry to go. Make sure to get a reservation, since it can get crowded with many people who work downtown heading there during lunchtime.
downtown Los Angeles bakery
Los Angeles gay brunch
downtown Los Angeles bakery

Skyspace LA is a popular downtown LA small restaurant and bar with observation deck. Locals love to get some amazing photos on the glass slide with 360-degree views of the city. Buy your tickets online in advance.

Los Angeles Gay Travel: WeHo Brunch Spots

If you love people watching, a superb breakfast or lunch spot in West Hollywood is Kitchen 24. They have a cute and colorful outdoor seating area where you can watch the boys of WeHo stroll the sidewalks. This gay area of WeHo is great to spend a warm summer morning!

Los Angeles gay brunch

Los Angeles Gay Bars & Clubs

Gay nightlife in Los Angeles lives in West Hollywood. Drive down Santa Monica Boulevard and you will see dozens of parties lighting up the streets. This area of town is very walkable. On any given weekend you will see droves of partygoers walking the boulevard bar hopping in WeHo.

Gay Bars in WeHo: The Abbey & Micky’s

Two crowd favorite gay bars in West Hollywood are The Abbey and Micky’s. There are dozens of other gay bars in the immediate vicinity in West Hollywood including FuBar, Motherlode and Pump. It is easy to walk between gay bars since they are clustered together.
West Hollywood gay clubs
The Abbey and Chapel at The Abbey are essentially one establishment, but are two separate bars. Most of the time, they use two separate entrances, however there are times I have visited where they open up this internal gate between them. I guess it depends how crowded things get.
West Hollywood gay clubs
Los Angeles gay clubs

The Abbey is technically a gay bar; however, the crowd is very mixed. Many straight couples also hang out here, but the vibe is clearly tailored to the LGBT community. It is a wonderful and unique change to the typical gay bar. Also, both Chapel and The Abbey have large dance floors in the back!

Los Angeles gay clubs

Micky’s is my favorite gay bar in West Hollywood. They have an area to hang outside, plenty of room around the bar and a great space to dance in the back.

If you are visiting Micky’s during a holiday weekend when things are very crowded, the bar will have people form a line on the sidewalk. But, they interestingly won’t let anyone in that line enter the bar!

The only way to get in at times like this is to go directly to the door and ask to pay cash to the bouncer. It’s a bit sad and very chaotic, but I’ve seen it happen several times while visiting LA, most notably on New Year’s weekend. Most weekends though will be perfectly fine.

Gay Bars in WeHo: Flaming Saddles

Flaming Saddles is another gay bar option. Here you are likely to run into other visitors while watching the muscled boys dance the night away on the bar. It’s a very rowdy and entertaining place to grab a drink! During the week they also have Drag Race showings.
Los Angeles gay bars
Los Angeles gay bars
SLS hotel cocktail bar Los Angeles

Cocktail Lounges in LA

If you want specialty cocktails with a bit of a performance, head to The Bazaar by José Andrés, located in the SLS hotel. Most of their cocktails are made in front of you with a bit of a show!

I ordered a drink where the glass was smoked with wood using a flame right on the bar card in front of me, and the cocktail was made right there on a bar cart. Super fun and a very romantic spot
SLS hotel cocktail bar Los Angeles

Los Angeles Gay Travel Tips

After checking out Los Angeles gay bars and clubs for the first time, I realized that people put a lot of effort into the way they dress and present themselves. Everyone seems to have a carefully curated “look.”
The way LA guys dress is a bit different from the simplicity of how New Yorkers dress. So, if you’re headed out on the town, don’t be afraid to dress to impress!
Los Angeles gay travel
Los Angeles gay travel shopping
Los Angeles gay travel
The Hollywood Walk of Fame tends to be on many gay tourist’s list of things to do. While it may be something you wish to see, it is not really the best place to hang out in my opinion. This area is very crowded with tourists. Since there are so many beautiful and authentic things to do in LA, I recommend only spending a short time here if you decide to visit.

Malibu Beaches: Be Careful

Be careful while walking along California beaches especially in Long Beach, Malibu and South Bay. There are frequently globs of tar along the shore. If you step in one of the tar balls, it will be very difficult to remove it from your skin.
will rogers park LA
California things to do
These globs are sometimes natural, a result of natural offshore oil seeps, and other times a result of oil spills that have occurred in past years. Keep an eye out!

Using Lyft & Uber in Los Angeles

Ride-share prices at Los Angeles Airport tend to surge incredibly high as soon as a large flight lets out, especially in the evening. A ride to your hotel can easily triple in price over a few minute’s time.
Los Angeles gay travel shopping
Try to avoid the surge by either rushing from your flight to the rideshare area as soon as possible or taking things very slowly until most of the other people have left and prices come back to normal.

Gay Rights in California

California is a wonderful place to be LGBT. One of the most liberal states in America, California was the first in the nation to legalize domestic partnerships. The state provides various workplace discrimination protections for LGBT people and protects the LGBT community from a range hate crime.
will rogers park LA

In 2008, California courts struck down laws which had banned same-sex marriage in the state. Proposition 8 arose a few months later, a newly created and approved ban on same-sex marriage which received a high amount of media attention across the United States.

Prop 8 remains in effect in the state of California, however the Federal US government in 2015 ruled that gay marriage is legal in all 50 states.
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