Like its famously gay neighbor to the north San Francisco, Los Angeles has a thriving gay culture. Unlike San Francisco’s Castro district, however the gay scene is not cordoned off in its own territory. Gay dance clubs and bars are interspersed with “breeder bars” and nightclubs throughout the city and gay themed hangouts are not limited to places of drinking and dancing; coffee shops and restaurants with a gay or lesbian theme have begun to pop up around Los Angeles.
There are several neighborhoods in the city of angels that have been made home to some of the more prominent gay communities. West Hollywood, with its plethora of nightlife, is one popular gay destination for eating, drinking and walking around to see the people and be seen. Numerous gay bars and clubs can be found up and down Santa Monica Boulevard, which, if there were an epicenter of gay nightlife, would be it. Popular clubs include the 18-and-over Tigerheat which boasts gay and straight patrons grinding to teeny bop pop, Rage, which has a large Asian fanbase, and the classier bar East/West, which has reinvented itself for the umpteenth time as an upscale place to get drinks.
Santa Monica the city also attracts a large part of Los Angeles’ gay community and the combined culinary offerings of West Hollywood and Santa Monica offer plenty of “gay friendly” dining establishments or restaurants that see a mostly gay or lesbian clientele.
The LGBT scene shifts to Long Beach if you’re on the south side of the city, where the “Broadway Corridor” houses most of the gay and lesbian owned restaurants, coffee shops and other businesses. Ripples and Club Broadway are your best bets in Long Beach for a lesbian bar close to the rest of the nightlife.
But no trip to LA is complete without a trip to the beach. The beach and surfing culture is part of what made the city what it is today and for the gay or lesbian traveler, Will Rogers State Beach is the place to find fellow gay men and women enjoying the sun and surf. If surfing is what gets you out of bed in the morning, head north to Malibu to Zuma beach, one of the best surf-spots on the stretch of coast frequented by Angelenos. Even further north, Matador and Pescador beaches are popular with the gay crowd and sometimes feature a “clothing optional” section in the coves and harder to reach sections of beach north of the family friendly areas.