It’s not doubt that it’s been a hot girl summer and if you’re like me plugging away at a 9 to 5 getting out of town, even for just a couple of days, is the only way to let your hair down and feel your full verano fantasy. Now you may be all partied out from all the Pride festivities that went well into the month of July, but in August, the fun doesn’t have to end with tons of options for celebrating all the colors of the LGBTQ+ rainbow. If you think a quick trip to Puerto Vallarta or San Francisco might break your summer spending bank, I recommend doing something a little more accessible and that is bursting with options for everyone who might be looking for a reason to get out under the summer sun. I’m talking of course of about Los Angeles–the City of Angels—a destination bustling with glitz, glamour, and grit that will give you everything your little gay heart desires.
For anyone in Southern California, L.A. is just a few precious moments away as the beast draws you into its beating pulse of opportunity and excitement. Anyone flying into L.A. will, undeniably, experience the magic that is this urban playground.
On a recent trip to L.A. I was drawn to experience a different side of L.A. I hadn’t seen before—with some familiar favorites sprinkled in just for funsies.
STAY – Hotel Indigo Downtown Los Angeles
One of the hottest hotels I’ve ever seen in L.A. is Hotel Indigo. Located at the heart of Downtown L.A. Hotel Indigo is a new urban retreat for guests who are seeking to be at the center of L.A. happenings with a nod to the L.A.’s historic past. Its design pays homage to L.A.’s Chinatown, Hollywood’s Golden Age of Cinema, La Fiesta de las Flores, and the underground speakeasy ways during America’s Prohibition Era.
Something that makes Hotel Indigo truly special is their Summer of Love, which currently offers activities that celebrate the LGBTQ+ community. The chic hotel launched its campaign at the start of pride month in June and is spreading the Summer of Love through the end of August, just in time for the DTLA Proud Festival. Guests who stay at Hotel Indigo DTLA can experience the “Practice for Pride” yoga classes by LA-based yoga studio, One Down Dog. Classes are held on the pool deck overlooking the beaming DTLA skyline. I did this yoga class and let me tell you, I broke a sweat and was ready for some brunch and mimosas right after!
Hotel Indigo has also partnered with The Lavender Effect, a local non-profit project that shares stories of LGBTQ+ groups to help demystify the community, reduce shame, combat homophobia, and empower future generations. “Walk in Our Shoes” is one of the combined efforts of the Hotel Indigo and The Lavender Effect that takes hotel guests through a two-hour walking tour of Downtown L.A., retracing LGBTQ+ history in some of the most iconic landmarks spanning from Union Station to present day Olvera Street to the Million Dollar Theatre opened by Sid Grauman in 1918. “Walk in Our Shoes” is a look at LGBTQ+ life during trying times in California history—a time before L.A.’s West Hollywood became the LGBTQ+ hub that it is today.
Another partnership between Hotel Indigo and The Lavender Effect is their SunGay Brunch, offering a wide variety of pride-inspired foods at the hotel’s Metropole Bar + Kitchen. Diners who go to SunGay Brunch can enjoy an array of multicolored menu items that include rainbow pancakes, rainbow vegetable skewers, a rainbow juice cart, and bottomless mimosas! To align with The Lavender Effect’s efforts, Hotel Indigo is donating a portion of the proceeds from the SunGay Brunch to the organization.
Put your feet up and get some much needed beauty rest at The Hotel Indigo DTLA: hotelindigola.com
TASTE – The Black Cat
Before the Stonewall Riots 50 years ago, there were local struggles involving the LGBTQ+ community that to this day are not as well-known as the riot that started the LGBTQ Pride movement. Black Cat Tavern on Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake was a watering hole for closeted and out gay people in the 60s. On New Year’s Day in 1967, 14 patrons of the Black Cat Tavern were arrested and others beaten during a sting operation where police officers infiltrated a New Year’s Eve party at the regular gathering place for LGBTQ+ folks. Protests began shortly after, marking Black Cat Tavern as one of the first places in the U.S. for LGBTQ+ civil activism.
Today, The Black Cat is an upscale American gastropub in its original home in Silver Lake. The restaurant is decorated with a dark vintage style and has newspaper clippings and paraphernalia from the 60s adorning the walls. The food, though, is also amazing!
They have a unique take on American cuisine. I recommend the crispy deviled eggs which are topped with marinated white anchovies, the slow roasted pork ribs with a blackberry bbq sauce, pickled shallots, and fried basil, and the burger with caramelized onions, raclette cheese, sweet and tangy pickles and served with a side of fries.
Get a real taste for old time L.A. at The Black Cat: theblackcatla.com
DANCE – Akbar
While you’re in Silver Lake, you definitely need to pop into Akbar, a staple in L.A. nightlife that is far from the congestion of West Hollywood. Akbar is known for its amber lit bar and dance floor. On a weekly basis it hosts the iconic Learn the Words, Bitch! Hosted by drag extraordinaire Tony Soto and dancing every Thursday-Saturday. Akbar is a neighborhood oasis where thousands flock to drink, dance, and connect and it is a must visit if you’re in L.A.
If you’re feeling thirsty, head to Akbar: akbarsilverlake.com
EXPERIENCE – Fearless Fashion @ Skirball Cultural Center
An incredible exhibit showing the trajectory of gay fashion designer Rudi Gernreich is currently on display at the Skirball Cultural Center. Fearless Fashion shows the development of the design innovation by Gernreich as he introduced the “monokini”, the thong, the unisex caftan, and women’s pantsuits—which revolutionized the fashion industry. Gernreich, who died in 1985, was a pioneer in fashion as he conceptualized progressive ensembles in response to the socio and political unrest of the time. The exhibition at the Skirball Cultural Center includes over eighty of Gernreich’s ensembles. The exhibit is an explosion of color and activism using fashion as a vessel for dialogue. Fearless Fashion runs through September 1, 2019.
See everything the Skirball Cultural Center has to offer: skirball.org
TASTE – Grand Central Market
At the heart of Downtown L.A. is one of the city’s oldest landmarks—Grand Central Market. First opened in 1917, GCM has continuously operated for 102 years, feeding the people Los Angeles for generations. A melting pot of foods and cultures, GCM has welcomed millions of visitors since inception and currently houses over 30 vendors from James Beard Award winning chefs, artisan coffee experts, cheesemongers, butchers, produce purveyors, and more! GCM is an international meeting of the minds and palettes that makes it a travel destination for those passing through the City of Angels. Stop into Grand Central Market when visiting L.A. there is bound to be something for everyone—and then some!
Are you hungry? Eat it up at Grand Central Market: grandcentralmarket.com
DANCE – Precinct DTLA
If you’re looking for some Los Angeles nightlife experience that is more divey than glamorous, look no further than Precinct. Precinct is a spacious, brick-lined gay bar that has nightly events, dancing, cocktails and whole lot of debauchery. The nightclub that made The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula famous has seen some world class entertainment throughout the years. The space’s industrial feel lends itself to the grungy nightlife the bears and leather daddies hold dear in their hearts. Precinct is not your typical “gay club” experience! It is a stomping ground for all those looking for an alternative experience with great music, stiff drinks, and all kinds of guys for you to fancy.
Check out what’s happening every night at Precinct DTLA: precinctdtla.com
EXPERIENCE – The Unauthorized Musical Parody of…“A League of Their Own” @ Rockwell Table & Stage
I already knew that Rockwell Table & Stage was an awesome spot for brunch since I’ve been to Ross Mathew’s Dragtastic Bubbly Brunch multiple times and LIVED for it—but what I had not experienced were the high energy, intimate performances Rockwell has on their stage. If you love gay cult films as much as I do—which is A LOT—then the 1992 classic A League of Their Own is definitely on your list. A League of Their Own is the perfect film to watch a Summer park movie night series or to have on in the background during game night, but Rockwell Table & Stage has managed to take the film starring Geena Davis and Tom Hanks into extra innings! The Unauthorized Musical Parody Of…(UMPO) A League of Their Own has been playing Rockwell every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday since July 18th. It has a talented cast of performers who break into some of the best cover songs as the story follows sisters Kit and Dottie on their journey as part of the first female professional baseball league during WWII. The performance includes renditions of hit songs by Madonna, Bon Jovi, Cyndi Lauper and more!
A League of Their Own is part of Rockwell’s popular UMPO series that has Angelinos coming back for more.
Check out the line-up of offerings at Rockwell Table & Stage: rockwell-la.com
TASTE – Pump
At the heart of West Hollywood, on the corner of Robertson and Santa Monica Boulevard, is a swanky restaurant/lounge that bears the name of a popular ex-Bravo Housewife, Lisa Vanderpump. Pump is an upscale New American dining and drinking experience that welcomes patrons with the whimsy of olive trees looming over its outdoor garden seating. Everything about this place screams LVP! If you’re a Bravo fan, you will enjoy being in the company of items that have been personally curated by the rosé queen herself. From a cocktail list that features mixes made with Vanderpump rosé to a menu that is elegant and delicious. Pump is at the doorstep of all of West Hollywood’s best bars and nightclubs so stop in for a dinner or a drink before heading out for a night of dancing when in L.A.
DANCE – West Hollywood
Most gays across the world have heard about the LGBTQ+ epicenter that is West Hollywood, or WeHo as it is more commonly known. Located at the base of the Hollywood Hills and adjacent to Beverly Hills, WeHo is a creative and progressive city that embodies the quintessential L.A. lifestyle. The 1.9 square-mile/4.9 square kilometers city is comprised of three main districts: the world-famous Sunset Strip with unparalleled nightlife, eclectic and LGBTQ-friendly Santa Monica Boulevard, and the Design District known for its creative vibe and sought-after shopping and dining. But if you’ve been to Los Angeles, you know that WeHo vibrates with energy that draws millions of visitors per year to some of the most upscale nightclubs and bars in all the gay-universe. In a single night you can grab drinks at Beaches WEHO or Fiesta Cantina, dance the night away at Micky’s or World Famous The Abbey, or just walk Santa Monica Boulevard making new friends and people watching. West Hollywood is more than just about nightlife, however. It holds a historical significance to the LGBTQ+ that surpasses what locals and travelers see today. Originally named Sherman, but never fully integrated into the surrounding metropolis, West Hollywood became a haven for generations of creative thinkers, artists and rebels. Facing overdevelopment and impacted by the AIDS crisis, the city incorporated in 1984 to preserve its essence and protect civil rights.
For more information, check out: visitwesthollywood.com
EXPERIENCE – The Hollywood Museum
If you’re looking for a real Tinseltown time, you need to check out The Hollywood Museum, a multi-level experience that takes you through true Hollywood history and into today’s modern age of cinema and television. Located in the historic Max Factor Building, where the hustle and bustle of old Hollywood came for all it’s beauty and style, The Hollywood Museum houses over 10,000 show business treasures and is one of the top tourist attractions of L.A. The museum takes you through the original rooms where some of Hollywood’s leading ladies got their hair done, including Lucille Ball, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, and Judy Garland. You can spend hours perusing original set and wardrobe pieces, behind-the-scenes production photos, and special visiting exhibits that can only be seen there.
Currently, The Hollywood Museum is hosting the 7th Annual Reel to Real exhibit, featuring the Portrayals and Perceptions of LGBT’s in Hollywood. The exhibit is an educational, entertaining and informative retrospective of LGBT images in film, TV, and new digital platforms-featuring costumes, props, photos, and iconic imagery all telling the story of the milestones and influence that LGBT characters and plot lines have had in Hollywood from early stereotypes to modern-day representations.Additionally, REAL to REEL celebrates LGBT Icons-individuals and couples who may be openly LGBT or not, and who support the LGBT community.
Learn more about The Hollywood Museum at: thehollywoodmuseum.com
So there you go! A good list of ideas on how to spend your hot girl summer if you’re visiting Los Angeles. Be it a solo trip, a romantic getaway, a weekend rendezvous, L.A. has what you’ll need to get you ready for sweater weather.
Explore more about how to chill out in the city that dreams are made of: discoverlosangeles.com