Forget all you've heard about Los Angeles being all about pretty people living pretty lives. The City of Angels is a must-see destination for gay travelers looking for fun in the sun.
Known as the entertainment capital of the world, Los Angeles is home to millions of people, from young Midwesterners just off the bus seeking fame and fortune in Hollywood's "dream factory" to business execs in the financial industry to grizzled natives just trying to get by. Like other major cities, it's a melting pot, with a vast array of ethnicities living in the many smaller neighborhoods that make up the city and one of the largest gay populations to be found in any major city. You'll find the primped and pretty boys of West Hollywood's Boys' Town, as well as the edgy hipsters who frequent the leather-Levi bars found in Silver Lake, plus just about everything in between.
No matter what you're looking to get into during your trip to Los Angeles, the city and its surrounding areas have got you covered. From historical tours through the downtown area and star tours through the Hollywood Hills to hot gay beaches and even hotter nightlife options, Los Angeles certainly earns its reputation, so prepare to be entertained.
From both Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank (BUR), you can grab a Super Shuttle for about $20 a person, catch the Metro (free shuttle to LAX station on the Green Line), or simply hail a taxi.
Amtrak inter-city passenger trains arrive at and depart from the main rail station, Union Station, just north of Downtown. MetroLink trains too.
Because the city is so spread out (more a series of neighborhoods than a traditional city), getting around in LA almost requires a car. (The Missing Persons didn't sing "No one walks in LA" for nothing.) There are any number of car rental companies to choose from, and a good navigation system will help find your way around.
The Los Angeles Metro system, with both buses and trains to cart folks around, has a handy online site to help plan your trips. The rail system includes the Red and Purple subway lines, plus the Gold, Blue, and Green light rail lines. The MetroLine Orange line connects North Holllywood to the San Fernando Valley. The subway doesn't travel to many Westside locations however, leaving out the popular beaches of Venice and Santa Monica, and places in Boys' Town, West Hollywood.
For a bit of WeHo's colorful history check out the gay bus and walking tours from Out & About Tours, featuring Saturday and Sunday rambles around town. Bikes & Hikes is the queer-friendly way to tour the city by bike, with guided tours and bike rentals. Both depart from West Hollywood locations.
Los Angeles boasts a very large and diverse gay community, with a bit of an east-side vs west-side split sometimes.
WeHo (aka Boys' Town): One of the most pristine, well-kept and quaintest areas in the city, it's also one of the liveliest, with many well-known bars (Rage, Mickey's, the Abbey), restaurants (Hamburger Mary's, La Boheme) and gyms (24-Hour Fitness). It's also home to porn directrix Chi Chi LaRue's self-named vanity retail shop, as well as several cafes and coffee shops. Just watch out for gym bunnies crossing the street. See: Touring the history-rich City of Angels by Steven Bereznai (Xtra 11/10/12).
Silver Lake: Similar in vibe to San Francisco's Haight District, this trendy east-side neighborhood is home to LA's most popular leather/Levi/bear bars, Faultline and the Eagle, as well as two others (MJ's, Akbar) that cater to both hipster gay men and their best girlfriends. Funky, edgy and arty, Silver Lake is the antithesis of the more mainstream WeHo, with vegans and tattooed indie rockers aplenty, though you can always find a few boys from the West side venturing out for an exciting new adventure. See: Silver Lake, LA's origninal gay village by Ted Flett (Xtra 11/12/12).
In Focus: Downtown LA heats up
Once thought of as a neighborhood that shut down after dark, Downtown is now something of a nightlife hub.
Though its skyline is instantly recognizable to filmgoers, it may come as a surprise to many to hear that Downtown Los Angeles (or DTLA, as it's known to most Angelenos) has until recently been thought of as dead.
But thanks to a renewed focus on loft living in the refurbished art-deco buildings, an extensive fashion and arts district and a burgeoning nightlife scene, DTLA is finally starting to come into its own.
Artistic-leaning gays might want to start at the Los Angeles Music Center, located in historic Bunker Hill. The Center is a cluster of four major performance venues: the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, home to the LA Opera; the Ahmanson Theater; the Mark Taper Forum (where Angels in America had a successful pre-Broadway run); and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
There are also a lot of museums in Bunker Hill, including the Museum of Contemporary Art. Meanwhile, the monthly Downtown LA Art Walk, held on the second Thursday of the month, attracts over 5,000 attendees to several galleries and studios over in the Historic Core area.
Another important part of DTLA's redevelopment has been the Fashion District, which spans over 90 blocks. Featured recently on Project Runway, the Fashion District is the hub of the apparel industry on the West Coast, and continues to lure both natives and tourists alike due to its funky curio shops, ethnic eateries and fashion bargains. And don't forget to check out the Old Bank District, where lovers of architecture will revel in the gloriously retro art-deco buildings that have been converted into lofts and offices. The Bradbury Building is especially noteworthy for its open courtyard and intricate wrought iron stairwells.
The increased traffic in the downtown area has brought many gay people to the area. Falling somewhere in between the glitz and glam of Boys' Town and the self-conscious hipness of Silver Lake, DTLA is a haven for those looking for an alternative to the usual gay scene.
A bit of West Hollywood history
West Hollywood is one of the world's most notable gay villages. The now-famous Sunset Strip once connected the early Spanish settlement of El Pueblo de Los Angeles to coastal ranches along the Pacific. A century later the area was settled by workers in the railroad yards here a nonconformist and independent lot. By the 1920s night clubs and gambling joints sprang up in a town that was, and remains, outside Los Angeles city limits (and LA's historically more stringent regulations).
Proximity to the movie industry brought an influx of creative types, and in the '60s at safe distance from the LAPD gay life emerged from the shadows, as a part of West Hollywood's general countercultural ferment. The community coalesced around the Santa Monica Avenue strip, and that area remains central to this day. Gay people here comprise perhaps 40 percent of the population, and in 1985 voters here were the first in America to elect a gay-majority city council.
Media and Resources
Frontiers Magazine, the 34-year-old biweekly L.A.-based gay magazine had a relaunch with new owership in 2014; with a mix of national and local news, entertainment, nightlife, travel and lifestyle features.
The GayWEHO website covers the whole city, but gives special attention to WeHo, with easy-to-navigate events listings for the clubs, each night of the week, including the 18+ events.
Adelante is the area's gay Latino magazine, with online digital editions.
Daniel Magazine is the New Asian Gay Men's Magazine, "for the strong, ambitious, driven male" - 150 pages of stories, articles, and images.
Starrfucker Magazine, a "self-printed quarterly homo/foto/art-zine with penis," is Jeremy Lucido's behind the scenes view from the world of gay porn - the struggling artist outsider looking in on both fans and stars.
Founded in 1971, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center (1625 N Schrader Blvd), is the largest gay and lesbian organization in the world with several locations around the LA area. They host regular theater events, and comedy nights too.
ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, the oldest active LGBTQ organization in the USA, and largest such repository in the world, houses over two million archival items including periodicals, books, film, video and audio recordings, photographs, artworks, organizational records and personal papers.
The Los Angeles Leather Coalition lists over two dozen member associations. The Tom of Finland Foundation, established to preserve the artist's vast catalog of work, also offers safe haven for all erotic art, educates the public, and promotes healthier, more tolerant attitudes about sexuality.
The Bears LA organize events each year including BearQuake and the Mr SoCal Bear Contest, the Mr LA Leather Bear Contest, Bear it in the Desert, Bears in the Woods and other events at Pistons, the Faultline and Gauntlet II bars.
For gay sports league links see GYM Sportbar pages for Lambda Basketball, GLA Softball; LA Flag Football; Rebellion Rugby; WeHo Dodgeball; the West Hollywood Soccer Club; WH2O West Hollywood Aquatics swimming and water polo; and more.
Ashram West explores Ramakrishna Tantra; queer love as a spiritual path, using ecstatic traditions of Tantric Vedanta.
"Shamanic, sacred fools," the Los Angeles Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are dedicated to universal joy and the expiation of guilt. They organize events to raise funds for charitable organizations, providing fun, laughter, and a better understanding of gay diversity.
LA has more than it's share of promoters presenting special events and circuit parties. Two of the biggest in the business: Jeffrey Sanker of White Party Palm Springs fame, and Tom Whitman with TNT at Micky's, Size at Here, SpLAsh, Wonderland, and the Elevation gay ski weeks.
Also check out: Club Nur gay Middle Eastern club nights at various venues; Club Papi, "America's number one Latin Fiesta;" Freddy's Entertainment, events at Circus and Arena nightclubs; Masterbeat, bringing the WE Parties to LA; Reflex, parties at Penthouse; and Tigerheat, with ongoing 18+ nights including Thursdays at Avalon, WTF Fridays in Costa Mesa, and Befierce Sundays at 340 Restaurant/Nightclub in Pomona, For women, see Girlbar, Wednesdays at 692 N Robertson. Gameboi is a weekly 18+ gay Asian dance party, Fridays at Rage.
For a city map and website links to businesses, museums, and entertainment venues, see our gay Los Angeles listings pages. For some photos from around town, see our gallery pages. We also list some upcoming local events and activities.
Bars and clubs, West Hollywood area
It's not surprising there are so many nightspots in this town; here's a sampling of some of the main highlights.
Abbey (692 N Robertson), with long weekends lines, a popular gay coffeehouse, restaurant, and full-service bar. At other times you'll find plenty of open-air seating. Cozy, curtained cabins that are great for making-out. Wednesdays here are GB2 Girls Night.
Fubar (7994 Santa Monica Blvd), offbeat neighborhood dance spot, 20-30 somethings, counter-culture attitude, go-gos, karoake, drag. Exhibitionists/voyeurs Thursday fun with Big Fat Dick erotic photo posing contests, and trashy videos. Wednesday Adonis Lounge male strippers/ lap dancers.
Greystone Manor (643 N La Cienega Blvd), upscale supper club, state-of-art sound and lighting nightclub dancing, Friday night Fresh moved from Eleven.
Gold Coast (8228 Santa Monica Blvd), cheap drinks locals cruise joint, charmingly oblivious to trendiness, bartenders you can talk to wide cross-section of guys.
Gym Sportsbar (8737 Santa Monica Blvd), TV sports, happy hours, weekend beer blasts, local sports leagues booster, NYC bar sibling.
Hamburger Mary's (8288 Santa Monica Blvd) one of gay diner-bar franchise, big servings, popular all-you-can-eat Taco Tuesdays, Texas-size margaritas, Wednesday bingo, comedy nights, drag shows and Sunday drag brunch.
Here Lounge (696 N Robertson Blvd), phenomenon and architectural delight, cute and happy crowd. Always packed for Saturday Hooker Casino guys' night with sexy male strippers. Wednesday Stripper Circus; Size Sunday beer busts and shot boys; Ride Saturdays and BFF Fridays dancing, drinking and debauchery for men.
Metropolitan (652 N LaPeer Dr), large, 2-level, slickly designed weekend dance club, several areas, many moods, fashionable people in their prime. Their upstairs lounge coonects to Robertson, with Robertson Street entrance. Was Factory.
Micky's (8857 Santa Monica Blvd), longtime gay WeHo icon, fresh energey, body-beautiful dancers and bartenders, and hot guys packing two floors. Hot Rod Wednesdays are sexy, and shows, guests, go-go dancers, specials such as RuPaul's Drag Race and other events fill their week.
Mother Lode (8944 Santa Monica Blvd), no cover, cheap and strong drinks, mostly male regular guys, good age mix, no attitude, pool games, Hole Tuesday dirty dancer male strippers.
The Palms (8572 Santa Monica Blvd), small, long-established local women's dance club.
Rage (8911 Santa Monica Blvd), two-level restaurant, daytime bar, nightclub, open daily, 18+ Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Tuesday drag shows and dancers, Wednsday Latin Nights, and Friday GameBoi with a young Asian crowd. Tuesday through Sunday restaurant, noon-8pm, lunch specials, sandwiches, burgers, Mexican meals.
Reflex Afterhours (661 N Robertson Blvd), every other Saturday night gay/mix dancing until 8am, at Penthouse, in the Metropolitan complex.
Revolver (8851 Santa Monica Blvd), mixed, mostly male cocktail and video lounge, DJs, patio, dirty dancer go-go boys and shirtless bartender hunks. TrannyOke Mondays, Sunday Beer Busts and Dirty Dancers, plus other nightly events.
The Robertson (665 N Robertson Blvd), multi-level nightclub, 3 dance floors, no cover Russian-theme Rasputin Saturdays with go-go boys; Fantasy Fridays, Magnum Thursdays.
Trunks (8809 Santa Monica Blvd), longstanding Boystown video sports bar, laid back patrons, pool, games and softball teams, a smoking area, friendly bartenders, and drinks at good prices.
CLOSED: Eleven (8811 Santa Monica Blvd) - Oct 2014 - gay lounge, dance club and restaurant on two grand levels. Friday Fresh moved to Greystone Manor; Tigerheat 18+ Recess ended.
Arena (6655 Santa Monica Blvd), Popular Saturday Boys Night Out night dance party, young, next generation, multi-ethnic, all-gender crowd. midnight shows and hot go-go boys.
Avalon (1735 N. Vine St) hosts the big 18+ Thursday night Tigerheat gay dance frolic, the largest weekly gay event on the West Coast, with CD releases, go-go dancers, and often famous guests too. Bardot back bar events.
Catch One Nightclub (4067 W Pico Blvd), gay dance club and live music venue, diverse/ multi-ethnic crowds. Drag shows, strippers/ erotic dancers, Hip Hop, Reggae, R&B, and Old School.
Circus Disco (6655 Santa Monica Blvd, behind Arena), Tuesday, Friday and Saturday gay Latino dancing, four floors, top DJs, "Macho Man" exotic dancers, drag shows and contests.
Club Tempo (5520 Santa Monica Blvd), gay dance and cruise club for Latinos and men who desire them, drag shows, strippers and events all week long.
Plaza (739 N La Brea), Latin mix, Friday through Monday drag shows, Mexican club music, Thursday exotic go-go dancers.
The Edison (108 W Second St), Art Deco-period swanky, dress-code enforced, smorgasbord of events, live music, premium beers, scotch, wine, snacks and big bites for mixed crowd; restored former downtown power station.
Jalisco (245 South Main St), Cholo, Latino and mixed crowd, DJs play cumbia, reggaeton, hip hop. Next to The Smell, indie live-music all-ages no-alcohol club.
La Cita (336 S Hill St), afternoon/evening happy hours, Latino, Regge, Hip Hop, Punk Rock Dirtbag Tuesday nights, Queer Monday Moustache nights, Thursday Dance Right House/Trance, Sunday build your own Bloody Mary & live Cumbia/Banda. Large and lively patio.
Seven Grand (515 W Seventh St), upscale downtown pub with dress code, twice a month whiskey tastings.
Silver Lake Nightlife
Akbar (4356 Sunset Blvd) neighborhood oasis, great jukebox, attracts queer-thinking gentle folk of many sizes, shapes and proclivities. Weekly or monthly events include Planet Queer, John "adult party for the distinguished gentleman," Fag Football with go-go boy half time show, and Dirty Dirty House Club.
The Eagle LA (4219 Santa Monica Blvd), LA's top leather, uniform and fetish cruise bar, live DJs, pool tables, outdoor patio. Thursday Bear Nights, fetish and cigar socials, Sunday Beer Busts, Mr Eagle contests.
Faultline (4216 Melrose Ave), leathermen's cruise bar, spacious patio, big Sunday crowds for cheap beer. Thursday Undy Nights, go-go men and vintage porn. Holiday parties, big cock contests, and deep throat competitions have featured among their special nights.
The Other Side (2538 Hyperion Ave), casual piano bar, live cabaret entertainment and snack foods.
CLOSED: MJ's (2810 Hyperion Ave) - March, 2014 - attitude-free "industrial strength" dancing/ cruising. Famous Rim Job Tuesday dancing, stage/shower "slutty go-go boys," gay porn guests.
North - N Hollywood/ Fernando Valley/ Van Nuys/ Pasadena
Boulevard (3199 Foothill Blvd, Pasadena), mixed gay crowd, big karoke song selection, Sunday beer busts and cabaret.
Bullet Bar (10522 Burbank Blvd), serious leather men's bar in the Valley with movie nights, karaoke, bingo, beer busts, back patio; food includes chili cheese dogs, tacos, sloppy joes, pulled pork sandwiches.
C.Frenz (7026 Reseda Blvd), Reseda neighborhood bar with a little of everything; barbecues, karaoke, pool games, drags shows, and go-go boys.
Cobra (10937 Burbank Blvd), big gay Latin club in North Hollywood, drag shows, hip-hop, dance music and La Musica Latina, plus sexy hot Latino go-go dancers.
Oil Can Harry's (11502 Ventura Blvd, Studio City), mixed, mostly men's bar, leather events, karaoke and Country music dance nights, karaoke; Saturday Retro Disco music dancing.
Rain (12215 Ventura Blvd, Studio City), upscale gay restaurant and nightclub "in The Valley," drag shows, nightly entertainment, singers, dancers, karaoke.
South & Westside
Roosterfish (1302 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice Beach), beach neighborhood gay bar & grill, patio, art exhibits, Hard-Core Karaoke and Bad Boy Bingo nights.
CLOSED: Dolphin Bar, (1995 Artesia Blvd, Gardena), laid-back neighborhood bar in South Bay, friendly bartenders, party nights, karaoke.
East - Pomona/ Montebello
Alibi East (225 S San Antonio Ave, Pomona) video bar, dancing, cheap drinks, Sunday beer busts, karaoke, pool games, bear nights, Saturday theme parties.
Chico (2915 W Beverly Blvd, at Garfield, Montebello) sexy Latin club in East Los Angeles, hot shot boys and Latino strippers, open nightly playing Musica Latina, Hip Hop, and Old School.
Three-Forty Restaurant & Nightclub (340 S Thomas St, Pomona), new Hollywood/New York-style club, hot Latin guys nightly on stage, RuPaul's Drag Race Superstars. Sunday 18+ BeFierce by Tigerheat. Full dinner service nightly, plus Friday/Saturday after hours 'til 4am.
Restaurants - WeHo/ Hollywood/ Silver Lake
Bossa Nova (685 N Robertson, WeHo), meaty Brazilian treats and other international cuisine.
Cafe D'etoile (8941-1/2 Santa Monica Blvd, WeHo) good French and American food and wine, indoors or patio seating.
Champagne French Bakery Cafe (8918 Santa Monica Blvd, WeHo) breakfast, soups, sandwiches & salads, quiches and crepes; breads, cakes, cookies and pastries to delight any taste.
Falcon (7213 Sunset Blvd) formal elegance, chic Hollywood bar and restaurant, full meals and appetizer snacks, performances and live music.
Fiesta Cantina (8865 Santa Monica Blvd, WeHo) kicked-back atmosphere, beach bar and grill, kitschy Mexican restaurant with a thatched hut facade attracting many gay boys and girlfriends.
Flying Leap Cafe (2538 Hyperion, Silver Lake) fresh all-natural home-style American food, reasonable prices. Their kitchen also supplies the nearby Mary's Metro Station with al fresco dining.
French Quarter Restaurant (7985 Santa Monica Blvd, WeHo) good cruising as well as good food. Inside or out on their patio they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner; beer, wine, deserts and hot beverages.
Marco's (8200 Santa Monica Blvd, WeHo), breakfast, lunch and dinner Italian Trattoria, plenty of outdoor seating, celebrity sightings, coffee, snacks and free WiFi.
Marix (1108 N Flores St, WeHo) bar and Tex-Mex restaurant, popular all-you-can-eat Taco Tuesdays with pitchers of Margaritas.
St. Felix (8945 Santa Monica Blvd, WeHo) classy, vibrant bar & restaurant with outdoor patio for good passers-by viewings. Tapas, steak skewers, Cuban tacos, ravioli; half-off happy hour prices 4-8pm.
For additional Los Angeles restaurants, and locations and web links to the above, see our map & listings/restaurants page.
Lodgings, West Hollywood & Downtown LA
Ace Hotel (929 S Broadway, DTLA; 213-623-3233), restored 1927 United Artists theater building, small/large/loft rooms, terrace suites; part of gay-owned hotel chain.
Holloway Motel (8465 Santa Monica Blvd; 888-654-6400) next to the IHOP, "good bang for your buck" with free cable TV, voicemail, continental breakfast and parking.
The Ramada Plaza West Hollywood (8585 Santa Monica Blvd; 800-845-8585) Art Deco-style rooms and two-story loft deluxe suites; DSL, movies, refrigerators standard. 24-Hour Fitness, fine restaurants and outdoor heated pool.
San Vicente Bungalows (845 North San Vicente Blvd; 310-854-6915), tropical tranquility, 29 whitewashed bungalows and a heated pool surrounded by lush gardens, international mix of guests at heart of WeHo. sun deck, large patio area, continental breakfast, afternoon wine and cheese.
For more Los Angeles lodging options see our map and listing tab.
Shopping, West Hollywood
665 Leather (8722 Santa Monica Blvd) adult leather retailer, ready-made and bespoke creations, accessories from anal toys to whips, paddles and wrist-pads.
ES Collection (8915 Santa Monica Blvd), famous brand men's underwear outlet, swimwear, athletic and street wear, accessories; sexy ads.
Chi Chi LaRue's (8932 Santa Monica Blvd), upscale sex boutique, entire Channel 1 catalog of over 2,000 titles and products; also DVDs, novelties, lubricants, condoms, apparel, cards, photo books and calendars.
Circus of Books (8230 Santa Monica Blvd), erotic videos and literature, "Vaseline alley" at the back does get its share of action but patrolling police are never far away.
Mr. S Leather (4232 Melrose Ave) retail boutique, leather fantasy becomes reality.
Pleasure Chest (7733 Santa Monica Blvd) giant adult store, everything needed to tickle erotic fancies: magazines, specialty items, gifts, leather goods, condoms, love toys and the like.
Rough Trade (3915 Sunset Blvd), quality vendor of leather wares, specializes in hard-to-find items.
Bathhouses & sex clubs
The 1350 Club (510 W Anaheim St, Wilmington/ Long Beach) only men's steam and sauna in South Bay. Garden patio and sun deck, multi-channel videos, maze, excercise machines, private rooms, TV lounge, Safe Sex Party live performers, blackout nights, 24-hour secure parking, free HIV/STD testing and counseling.
Flex Complex (4424 Melrose Ave) open around-the-clock, garden oasis, outdoor jacuzzi, sundeck and pool. Full steam and sauna facilities, booths facilitate passions of one kind, with videos to inflame them, gym with free weights and machines for other work-outs.
K-Lyt Bath House (132 E 4th St), 24-hour every day downtown LA men's bathhouse, popular with Latinos.
Melrose Baths (7269 Melrose Ave), between Hollywood and WeHo, Bear & Bellies nights, Blackout parties, big Latino crowd. Facilities include pool, patio deck, steam, redwood sauna, sundeck, maze, exhibitionist rooms, video lounges, strip shows, guest porn stars, Wi-Fi
Midtowne Spa (615 S Kohler) popular sauna destination, heart of downtown LA; parking provided, video lounge, exhibitionist room, performer's showroom, deluxe sling room, full-size pool, weekend strip shows, JO shows with guest porn stars, Wi-Fi..
The North Hollywood Spa (5636 Vineland Ave), steam, dry sauna, fitness center, erotic-TV lounge, private rooms, cafe, sun deck, plus free health clinic for testing and counseling.
Roman Holiday (12814 Venice Blvd), basic men's sauna, open 24 hours, older crowd.
Roman Holiday Valley (14435 Victory Blvd, Van Nuys), men's sauna/steam, Jacuzzi, private rooms, pool, sunning patio, massage, Wi-Fi.
Slammer (3688 Beverly, near Vermont) premier sex club. Popular Tuesday gym nights, watersports every first and third Wednesday, earlybird weekend specials.
The Zone (1037 N Sycamore Ave) sex club and backroom busy with hot studs every night of the week until dawn; steamy, ever-changing, hot and safe environment.
CLOSED: Hollywood Spa (1650 N Ivar Ave), pleasure palace on 3 floors, grand staircase. loyal international clientele, nightly DJ, special rooms with two-way mirrors. Their North Hollywood facility remains open.
Going to the beach? Will Rogers Beach, in Malibu, a few miles north of Santa Monica pier, is gay-active, especially at weekends.
Other Metro Los Angeles areas
For Long Beach and Orange County Beach towns, Santa Ana and Anaheim, see our section for Long Beach.