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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
Los Angeles Gay Travel: Best Neighborhoods
Where to Stay in WeHo (West Hollywood)
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!
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.
Special Travel Invitations,
& Latest Gay Guides.
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 definitely the perfect place to stay; you have West Hollywood just a short drive away, plus easy access to the ocean and Pacific Coast Highway via Santa Monica Boulevard.
For a portion of my visit in the LA area, I stayed at the SLS Hotel Beverly Hills. They’re located on the border of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. 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!
Hotels in 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, unless of course you are visiting the city for work. 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 Gay Travel Experiences
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.
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.
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!
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
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 on the Abbott Kinney 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.
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. Auburn has closed down indefinitely for the COVID-19 pandemic, but is trying to re-open if possible once things start to recover.
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.
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!
Plan Check Kitchen & Bar is perfect for a cocktail-filled brunch. With locations in both in Sawtelle and West LA, Plan Check Kitchen & Bar has indoor and outdoor seating, a ton of soul food and fantastic service. They are known for their fried chicken! I really enjoyed 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. You will probably want to make a reservation, since it can get crowded with people who work downtown.
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 Skyspace 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 Bars & Clubs
The Abbey & Chapel West Hollywood
One of the crowd favorite gay establishments in Los Angeles is The Abbey and “Chapel at The Abbey.” They are technically one establishment, but they’re basically two separate bars. Most of the time, they use two different entrances. There are times however, that I have visited while have the internal gate between them opened. It seems it depends how crowded things get.
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!
Micky's West Hollywood: Los Angeles Gay Travel Favorite
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!
Flaming Saddles is another fun 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 Travel: More Gay Bars
A short cab ride away from the main strip of gay bars in West Hollywood, you should definitely check out FuBar. The crowd here is mixed, but can tend to attract a 30+ crowd.
Cocktail Lounges in LA
If you want specialty cocktails with a bit of a performance, head to The Bazaar by José Andrés. They are located in the SLS hotel in Beverly Hills. Most of their cocktails are made in front of you with a bit of a show!
Los Angeles Gay Travel Tips
The Hollywood Walk of Fame seems 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
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 for ’em.
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.
Gay Rights in California
California is definitely a great place to be LGBT in the States. 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.
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.