Los Angeles Gay Travel
wolfyy’s Los Angeles gay guide to hotels, restaurants, gay bars, parties, beaches & the gay neighborhood.
The Gay Travel Experience: Los Angeles, California
A classic gay travel destination, Los Angeles has it all. Beautiful weather, lots of gay bars and clubs, a mixture of urban life and natural beauty, and even some gay beaches.
Imagine cruising down Sunset Strip on your way to the West Hollywood gay neighborhood, relaxing at a chic rooftop pool, or dancing the night away at one of the city’s big gay clubs.
The Los Angeles gay community is enormous and common to see adorable public displays of LGBT affection in places like West Hollywood. Many gay celebrities call Los Angeles home, too.
Los Angeles’ West Hollywood neighborhood attracts tons of gay tourists every year. With a densely concentrated local gay population, the area has tons of gay bars, drag shows, and stores that cater to LGBT clientele. There’s a ton to explore.
As the second largest city in the United States along with a huge diversity of things to do, planning a visit to LA can be overwhelming. So in this Los Angeles gay guide, I’ll fill you in on all the best areas for gay travelers to stay along with plenty of other recommendations.
Gay Los Angeles: Hotels & Where to Stay
Location in Los Angeles is key since heavy traffic can make getting around the city super frustrating. Make sure to decide on a neighborhood close by the places you’ll spend most of your time.
The best areas to stay in Los Angeles is generally between the city’s downtown and Santa Monica, a wonderful beach community along the coast.
West Hollywood Accommodations
West Hollywood is Los Angeles’ famous gay neighborhood. Gay men are always strolling Santa Monica Boulevard past dozens of restaurants, storefronts, and gyms.
Santa Monica Boulevard and Melrose Avenue are two vibrant thoroughfares running through West Hollywood that are perfect starting locations when browsing for hotels.
Santa Monica Boulevard embodies more of a true gay neighborhood feel, while Melrose Avenue has more of a gritty, sort of Brooklyn-feeling vibe. Melrose is lined with hundreds of boutique shops and unique restaurants, though. I truly adore both!
Apartment rentals in West Hollywood will allow you to settle right in near the locals. If you stay here, I suggest choosing a place within walking distance of the gay bars. This will make things more convenient, especially if you’re traveling with a group of friends.
Beverly Hills Hotels
For luxury travelers, set your sights on hotels in Beverly Hills, the famous 90210 American zip code. If you’re willing to pay a little more, a hotel here will be worth it.
Beverly Hills has such an ideal location within Los Angeles that it’s super easy to get almost anywhere.
The SLS Hotel Beverly Hills is fabulous, located on the border of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. I stayed here during one of my trips to Los Angeles.
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 it!
Westwood & Century City Hotels
Westwood hotels and Century City hotels are also great for gay travelers. They offer a balance of easy access to both nightlife and beaches. Westwood is like a less-flashy version of Beverly Hills.
Downtown Los Angeles Hotels
Hotels in downtown Los Angeles are truthfully only a good idea if you need to stay downtown for a particular reason, like work. First-time tourists are better off choosing other neighborhoods of the city.
The heart and soul of Los Angeles gay life is in West Hollywood and beachfront communities like Santa Monica, which aren’t really near the downtown center.
Downtown Los Angeles is largely commercial and tends to be a bit boring in my opinion. It’s isolated from all the fun activities the city has to offer.
You absolutely don’t want to stay anywhere in (or even visit) the eastern part of downtown LA. In notoriously blighted areas like Skid Row, there are long stretches of city blocks full of homeless citizens living in tents. So stick to the recommendations above!
Los Angeles Gay Travel Experiences
Hike Runyon Canyon
Runyon Canyon is my favorite park in Los Angeles and is wildly popular among gay locals. There are beautiful trails and wide-open spaces. You can go for a casual walk here along the path closer to the entrance or decide to hike a bit and go further along the trails.
I love going a couple of 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!
Drive Latigo Canyon
Head to Latigo Canyon if you have a car and love driving winding roads. 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.
Explore Will Rogers State Park
Will Rogers State Historic Park is a great place to relax in nature. You can take a walk along wooded trails or even have a picnic in the open grassy fields.
The Getty Museum
The Getty Museum is a 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.
Visit Santa Monica
Santa Monica State Beach is right near Santa Monica Boulevard, 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.
Abbott Kinney Boulevard
Abbott Kinney Boulevard is a beautiful street near Venice Beach to shop, grab snacks, or have an 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.
Los Angeles Gay Beaches
Will Rogers Beach
Will Rogers Beach is the crowd favorite Los Angeles gay beach. To get there, head toward Lifeguard Tower number 18. This is the gay area. There is plenty of parking nearby.
Dorothy Green Park
Dorothy Green Park in neighboring Santa Monica is a popular gay beach hangout. There’s always a fun crowd enjoying the weather, often doing some sort of acrobatic exercises. It’s fun to watch!
West Street Beach
West Street Beach is another gay beach popular with Los Angeles locals. It’s just south of Laguna Beach, about an hour by car south of LA.
The earlier you get there, the better, since parking can be quite a challenge. Don’t forget a pair of sexy swim briefs!
I definitely can’t skip a mention of the famous Muscle Beach in Venice, California. If you have time for a second beach day, definitely check it out.
Even though it’s not an official gay beach, I’m sure there will be some LGBT friends around. Make a point to at least stop by!
Restaurants in Los Angeles
Plan Check Kitchen & Bar
Plan Check Kitchen & Bar is perfect for a cocktail-filled brunch. They have locations in both Sawtelle and West LA. I love Plan Check for their industrial kitchen vibe, fantastic service, and comfort food that will make your tastebuds super happy.
They are especially known for their fried chicken, but honestly, everything here is delicious. I really enjoyed the spicy custom cocktails too.
If you go to the Sawtelle Plan Check location, try digesting afterward with a walk through Japan Town. There are a lot of bubble tea shops and fun storefronts to browse.
Din Tai Fung
Din Tai Fung is a Taiwanese restaurant in the Century City Mall that you absolutely have to try! The food here is out of this world and the service is excellent. I love the huge window of the kitchen, where you can watch the cooks prepare all sorts of dumplings and other specialties.
Din Tai Fung is especially popular on weekends. It’s best to go put your name in, do some shopping and come back for dinner.
In fact, perusing the mall while waiting for dinner is quite relaxing considering how beautiful it is. It’s also one of the best places to shop in Los Angeles).
There are lots of other restaurants in this mall, in case you don’t opt for Din Tai Fung. The mall has an Eataly, popular with locals for dinner.
Craving amazing soup dumplings? 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.
Have brunch at Botega Louie if you’re in Downtown Los Angeles. The entrées are delectable and the pastries are so adorable! You could also grab some pastries to go. A reservation for brunch is best since it can get crowded with people who work downtown.
Kitchen 24 is a fun spot for breakfast with a bit of people-watching in West Hollywood. They have a cute and colorful outdoor seating area where you can watch the boys of WeHo stroll the sidewalks.
Los Angeles Gay Bars & Clubs
Gay nightlife in Los Angeles concentrates in West Hollywood, but there are a few noteworthy gay bars in the city’s downtown area as well. Here are all the best spots you need to know about.
The Abbey & Chapel
The Abbey and “Chapel at The Abbey” are crowd favorite Los Angeles gay bars. They are technically one establishment, but are two separate bars.
Most of the time, they use two different entrances. There are times, however, that I have visited while the internal gate between them was open. It seems it depends on how crowded things get.
The Abbey is technically a gay bar, but the crowd is typically mixed. Many straight couples also hang out here even though the vibe is clearly tailored to the LGBT community. Also, both Chapel and The Abbey have large dance floors in the back!
Micky's West Hollywood
Micky’s is my favorite gay bar in Los Angeles. It’s located in the heart of West Hollywood. They have a nice area to hang outside along the street, plenty of room around the bar, and a great space to dance in the back.
Events at Micky’s are always fun, too. I love their Hump and Showgirls nights. The bar is also famous for performances by world-famous drag queens, like Alyssa Edwards in the video below!
If you’re 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 chaotic, but I’ve seen it happen several times while visiting Los Angeles, most notably on New Year’s weekend. Most weekends though will be perfectly fine.
FuBar (Recently Closed)
FuBar was one of my favorites, a small gay nightclub that typically attracted a 30+ crowd. Recently though, we’ve learned that FuBar has closed for good after over two decades of operating in WeHo.
Mother Lode is the oldest gay bar in West Hollywood and just recently reopened after renovations to the bar’s facade. Tourists and locals both love coming to Mother Lode for cheap drinks in a relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere.
The bar is right on Santa Monica Boulevard near the other West Hollywood gay bars, so it’s an easy place to visit while bar hopping.
Looking specifically for circuit parties? Check out these circuit party events to see if any of the US productions will be hosting a party in one of the larger Los Angeles gay clubs.
Bullet Bar LA
Bullet Bar LA is a hugely popular leather and fetish gay bar in Los Angeles that hosts all sorts of epic events. They pride themselves on having the largest outdoor patio in the Valley, being open 365 days a year, and having the longest happy hours in Los Angeles.
Cock Sock, Dog Pound, Hawt Rock, and Crisco Disco are just a few of the sexy, uninhibited events at Bullet Bar. Wear your best-fitting jeans, harness, or other leather party gear!
Eagle LA is another classic gay fetish and leather bar with plenty of events to experience. Head to Tightwad Tuesday for $4 beers and no cover, or check out the drink specials on Hump Day Wednesdays.
If you’re in town over the weekend, Eagle LA usually has a cruising event planned. A couple of popular ones are Meat Rack and Cruise LA on the third Saturday of the month. Don’t forget a sexy jockstrap.
Redline is a pub-style gay bar with a decently-sized dance area. They’re known for their “Eggplant Fridays” where you can save on some 2-for-1 drink specials.
Precinct is the second of two gay bars in downtown Los Angeles. They’re an LGBTQ+ space open Tuesday through Sunday and always have something fun going on.
Everyone loves Precinct’s “Biqtchin'” events and Bearracuda parties, which have sexy go-go wrestlers and a cash-prize body wrestler contest! Precinct is also the host of the popular Megawoof LA parties!
Los Angeles Gay Parties
In addition to all the gay bars and clubs mentioned above, Los Angeles has a variety of local gay parties. Here are some of the best gay parties, most of which are held semi-regularly and in different venues around the city.
Tiger Heat is one of the biggest weekly gay parties in Los Angeles. It’s hosted at Stache West Hollywood every Thursday, attracting guys of all types and ages.
The club has multiple bars, a few small seating areas, a balcony level, and plenty of places to dance. The biggest dance floor is in front of the club’s main stage, but later in the evening, you’ll find people dancing in the middle room area.
Tiger Heat is also an 18+ party, so you’ll definitely see a few more younger partygoers than at some other gay parties.
ROAR is another frequently held circuit party in Los Angeles, produced by Reflex Presents. Expect plenty of sexy shirtless men, full-on circuit beats, and a neon-lit club interior.
Their events go all night, usually ending at 6 AM, and have varying themes, like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, XXX-Men, and Blackout.
Masterbeat hosts all sorts of popular Los Angeles gay circuit parties semi-regularly. They always host big gay parties during holiday weekends like Memorial Day and New Year’s, as well as during special events like pride.
I’ve always had a blast at every Masterbeat event I’ve been to. They’re your typical upbeat, colorful circuit party filled with muscular guys. You’ll definitely want to wear your best gay circuit gear.
Some of the other semi-regular parties by Masterbeat are Basic Training and Frat House. Check the Masterbeat Facebook page for scheduled parties like these, as well as their events in New York City.
Gay Cruising & Sex Parties
Los Angeles also has a handful of gay parties that blend both dancing and sex. Some of these events are gay parties with dark rooms, while others are strictly sex clubs or sex parties just for cruising.
I mention a few of the best venues and events in wolfyy’s post on Los Angeles gay bathhouses and sex parties.
Find over 25 gay sex parties in Los Angeles by downloading my complete PDF list, which includes direct sign-up links, contact information, event locations, and more.
Los Angeles Travel Tips
Should You Rent a Car?
Renting a car will make day trips and moving around Los Angeles much easier. You will need a car if you want to explore most major attractions, drive to great beaches, and more.
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.
The Local Gay Scene
After experiencing the Los Angeles gay scene for the first time while out at the bars, I realized that people here put a lot of effort into the way they dress and present themselves. Everyone seems to have a carefully curated “look.”
Don’t be afraid to dress to impress if you’re headed out on the town. Gay guys in Los Angeles dress a little more formally than men in New York do, for example.
Luggage Storage Options
There are plenty of options for short-term luggage storage in Los Angeles, ideal if you want to stash your bags somewhere more convenient to your departure destination, or if your hotel can’t hold your luggage any longer.
Malibu Beaches: Be Careful
Be careful while walking along California beaches, especially in the Long Beach, Malibu, and South Bay areas. There are frequently globs of tar along the shore. If you step in one of these balls of tar, it will be very difficult to remove it from your skin.
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 the 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 minutes’ time.
Try to avoid the surge by either rushing from your flight to the ride-share area as soon as possible or taking things very slowly until most of the other people have left and prices come back to normal.
Los Angeles Gay Life & California LGBT Rights
California is a great place to be gay. One of the most liberal states in America, the state was one of the first to legalize domestic partnerships.
California provides various workplace discrimination protections for LGBT people and protects the LGBT community from a range of hate crimes.
In 2008, California courts struck down laws that had banned same-sex marriage in the state via Proposition 8. This ban on same-sex marriage received a ton 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.
See wolfyy’s complete collection of gay travel guides for more gay destination ideas around the world.