Gay Los Angeles: West Hollywood

LA PRIDE Parade | Photo courtesy of LA PRIDE, Facebook

Santa Monica Boulevard leads you into West Hollywood, the thumping heart of Southern California’s gay community. L.A.’s Gay Pride Parade and Festival takes place here each June, and half a million people gather for the annual, much bedazzled Halloween Carnaval. The rest of the year, it’s busy day and night with cafés, gyms, restaurants, bars and dance clubs. It is truly a national phenomenon that so many gay establishments fill the streets of WeHo and have been thriving there for so long.

A classic evening in gay WeHo might start over margaritas at Marix Tex-Mex Cafe, barely more than a covered patio but always a party. For something more exotic, try the delicious Brazilian selections at Bossa Nova.

Located on Robertson, The Abbey is a rainbow world unto itself. What began as a simple coffee shop has grown into an empire, sporting a Goth-gone-wild style, as well as indoor and outdoor private cabanas. Stroll along Santa Monica Boulevard and step into a Wild West saloon at Flaming Saddles. For fabulous mod interiors, check out Revolver, St. Felix and Here Lounge. Dance fanatics head to Rage, Micky’s or The Factory. Meanwhile, the lineup at intimate Fubar might include exotic dancers, drag or a comedy hour, depending on the night. Ladies will find a stop at GB2 at the Abbey on Wednesdays is in order.

You can always opt for an old favorite — drag queen bingo on Wednesday nights at Hamburger Mary’s. For sports bars, the crowd skews a bit older at longtime favorite Trunks, while Gym is a relative newcomer. Among dive bars, Gold Coast or the Mother Lode are always reliable. Then there’s

Low-key more your taste? Try coffee at Urth Caffe or fashionable frozen yogurt (yes, fashionable frozen yogurt) at Yogurt Stop. If your shopping tendencies lean toward all things fashion, you can marvel at the design and clothing boutiques around the Pacific Design Center or the Beverly Center, as well as L.A.’s most famous shopping streets (Melrose Avenue, Beverly Boulevard and Robertson Boulevard). 

North of Santa Monica Boulevard, the clubs and eateries of the legendary Sunset Strip offer numerous options. Bar Marmont, the Mondrian and Standard Hotels are good places to start. Dining options on Sunset include Eveleigh, The Church Key and Yellowtail. Back on Santa Monica, check out The Horn and Pump. Gracias Madre on Melrose features delicious vegan Mexican fare.