I envy every single person in LA this summer.
After living in London for over two years, I appreciate what London has that LA doesn’t, like proximity to Mediterranean beaches and an abundance of cider on tap.
That being said, we’re having trouble taking the LA out of the boy long after the boy has left LA.
Namely, we’re missing In-N-Out burgers, midnight drives to the beach and bars open past midnight.
Though I was born in LA, the West Hollywood Pride Parade didn’t come onto my radar until after San Francisco and Long Beach Gay Pride. By that point, I was working in West Hollywood and was forced to dive headfirst into the gay revelry.
This year, I’d gladly dive in headfirst to see Jennifer Hudson and Azealia Banks headline the Los Angeled Gay Pride Parade.
So whether you’re going to strut down Santa Monica Blvd a la ‘sun’s out, guns out’ or running in the opposite direction from the floats and enjoying the Angeleno weather, here are my tips for some not-so-gay things you can do before you get the parade and for the recovery period afterward.
The LGBTI breakdown
The Pride Parade, taking place on 8 June, takes over the main street in West Hollywood so floats and people can walk down to the festival and parties at the park.
While WeHo is obviously the gay mecca of Los Angeles, don’t forget that LA is much bigger than Rage and the Abbey. Take advantage of the sprawling city and head to Hollywood, Silverlake, Downtown LA or the Valley for any of the gay and gay-friendly parties that fill up any night of the week. Latin clubs Circus and Arena are great for a mix of music in Hollywood, and alternative crowds scope out Faultline and the Eagle in Silverlake.
Both Getty Museum, in the mountains between Los Angeles and the Valley, and the Getty Villa site on the Pacific Coast Highway, are quintessentially LA in their own ways.
Redesigned and re-opened in 2006, The Getty Viilla houses Greek and Roman statues and art interspersed between giant rooms and open-air courtyards.
Crossing the road (safely please) throws you right into the Pacific Ocean, always a nice treat before or after getting some culture.
The new Getty Museum, off Mulholland Drive and the 405 Freeway, is a much larger space with a mountain-view of the city of Angels. My favorite part is the garden, which changes every season, but the entire structure itself is just as impressive as the art is holds. The smooth concrete buildings fit perfectly into the hillside backdrop, and there’s plenty of places for lounging in the sun or contemplating the last piece of art you saw.
I think everyone in LA has their own favorite beach. Born a Valley boy, access to Zuma has always been the easiest for me, and I find Zuma has the best surf and is the least busy of all beaches.
Please listen to someone who has many citations for alcohol on the beach… don’t take booze on the sand. Police are frequently in circulation on the sand and can test containers and bottles for alcohol content. It might be best to enjoy a cocktail once you get home and are applying the aloe.
Have you seen the YouTube sensation Hunter and Jessica? Amazingly obnoxious socialite-wannabes who take a bottle of vodka for a hike on Runyon canyon?
You may not run into them (if you do, call me) but you will find some less-than-desirable characters who come to Runyon in full make-up and ready to hold conference calls on hikes.
For the rest of hikers there to enjoy the exercise and the scenery, take some sunblock and enjoy the views (both of the city and the actor/models/waiters who prove to us there is a god and she has great taste).
San Fernando Valley
When I moved to New York, I quickly discovered I was born in the Jersey of Los Angeles.
People in LA (native or not) will always turn their nose up to the Valley, for no good reason! Some typical complaints are: Too far, too hot and too uncultured.
I’m certain to get emails about what area is and isn’t considered the Valley, but my point is to argue every single one of those points.
Pick an off-peak time to take the freeway into the Valley, or learn a scenic path through ‘the hills’ that can get you there in the same amount of time.
As for the heat, because the Valley is, well, a valley, the temperature does get higher than the coastal hoods of the great LA metropolitan area. My suggestion: Find someone who lives in the Valley and ask to invade their pool for the day.
With regards to culture, the Valley is one of the most ethnically diverse areas in Los Angeles, home to amazing Korean, Mexican, Peruvian and Middle Eastern food, all without the typical LA prices and reservations. The entire region is steeped in history as well, so find a nice margarita bar and see what local can fill you in on their fave Valley haunts.
Downtown Los Angeles
I can’t say enough about downtown LA. Gentrification in the past decade has seen the run-down streets transformed into chic eateries and jaw-dropping residential suites.
Until you snag a friend with a DTLA residence, take your pick from any of the restaurants, hotel bars and rooftop pools that make downtown the place to be. The flower markets are truly a sight to behold (the earlier the better), the Staples Center always has a sporting or concert event worth checking out and be sure to check if any ArtWalk exhibitions are going on. For an amazing view of downtown, head to the Griffith Observatory for a panoramic view of most of Los Angeles.
In hopes that I whet your appetite for LA, whether or not you’ll be heading there for LA Pride, I leave you with the brilliance that is the In-N-Out burger. There will always be a west coast versus east coast burger rivalry, and even within LA people will say what the best burger is. The fact remains, until In-N-Out comes overseas or even to the East Coast, I maintain it’s still the best burger in LA. To corroborate my claims, I give you an all-mighty Buzzfeed list about In-N-Out.
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