Gay Vacations in Los Angeles, California

Aerial view of 3rd Street Promenade at night in Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles's 3rd Street Promenade, California (Digital Vision/Getty)

Los Angeles Highlights

  • Watch out for "June Gloom" and "the Santa Anas." Two L.A.-specific weather phenomena are the fog banks and overcast skies that can hang around for days in June (actually, it can happen anytime from March to August), and the Santa Ana winds that can make you feel like Dorothy in Kansas. Summer in general can also be very hot—especially in the Valley—and it's also peak tourist season.
  • Join a live studio audience. Probably the only way you’ll actually see a celebrity in L.A. is by seeing a TV show being taped. Tickets are free and are sometimes handed out on Hollywood Boulevard or at Universal City. You can also get them at
  • If you don't drive, stay in West Hollywood. If you don’t drive or are scared of L.A.'s monumental traffic and simply want to focus on L.A.'s gay life, stay in one of WeHo's upscale hotels. You'll be within walking distance of gay nightlife, shops, and restaurants.

Huge and sprawling and incomprehensible in its vastness (even natives have probably never seen all of it), Los Angeles can be daunting to the first-time visitor—especially if you don't drive. The best way to approach this popular gay travel destination is to think of it as a series of cities adjoining one another, each with its own vibe. There's beachy, mellow Santa Monica, with its funky seaside neighbor Venice. There’s high-rise downtown with its new yuppie residents elbow-to-elbow with the old-timers. The Valley incorporates a string of cities, including gay-popular Studio City, and it's far more than its unfair reputation as a suburban wasteland. And then, of course, there's West Hollywood, which includes most of the famous Sunset Strip, littered with celebrities, nightclubs, and swank hotels. WeHo's wide and tasteful Santa Monica Boulevard is the focal point of most of the area’s LGBT action—with probably the best lesbian-specific nightlife on the West Coast. The other main gay area of L.A. is Silverlake, once seen as a leathery village but now becoming more fashionable, and also home to a wide swath of LGBT nightlife. Long Beach, south of L.A. and bordering Orange County, has a large gay population that is slightly more sedate than in L.A. but still enjoys its local queer nightlife and beach life. But almost every one of L.A.'s cities has its own LGBT bars and businesses—so you’ll never be far from the action!

Great annual events worth planning a trip around include June's pride event and Halloween in West Hollywood—both huge street events with lots of flair—as well as the Sunset Junction street fair in Silverlake, filled with everyone from leather bears to Hispanic grandmothers with their kids! Of course, you’ll want to see a movie here—get tickets for the Outfest in July, or Fusion, a film festival for LGBT people of color in late November. The Los Angeles Film Festival brings the city alive in late June. Long Beach has a fun and large seaside pride event in May (said to be the third-largest in the U.S.) that attracts people from L.A. The Valley communities celebrate their pride at the CBS Studios in Studio City in October.

Activities in this enormous metropolis are as plentiful and varied as your imagination—the traditional tourist sites being: Hollywood Boulevard (with its stars embedded in the sidewalk and the fancy Hollywood and Highland shopping complex, home to the Oscar ceremonies); Beverly Hills (with its exclusive shopping on Rodeo Drive); Universal City (with its backlot studios tour and theme park); Santa Monica and Venice (with a fun pier full of rides and a lively boardwalk scene that could rival Fellini); downtown (which includes great museums and the fun ethnic enclaves of Little Tokyo, Chinatown, and the nearby Korea Town); and a ferry trip to Catalina Island (with its upscale Mediterranean vibe). And don't forget the gay-popular attractions of Disneyland and Laguna Beach—both of which are actually in Orange County.

Published: 16 Jul 2008 | Last Updated: 23 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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