Content originally written for the Let’s Go: USA & Canada Guide by our researcher-writer, Graham Bishai.
692 N Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood; (310) 289-8410; theabbeyweho.com; open M-Th 11am-2am, F 10am-2am, Sa-Su 9am-2am
Which three words best describe The Abbey? Big, gay, and famous. This expansive club has several bars, dance floors, and seating areas, both indoors and outside. The Abbey’s fame extends far beyond LA—its majestic fountain and string lights crown it as an institution. After running the Abbey for over three decades, the owners have perfected a vibe that is upbeat yet relaxed, sexy yet social, and cool yet inclusive. Not sure you can handle the bedazzled go-go dancers? Step outside for some coffee and baked goods.
No cover, cocktails from $14, beers from $7; BGLTQ+ friendly; limited wheelchair accessibility
8865 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; (310) 652-8865; www.fiestacantina.net/; open daily noon-2am
With pool floats lining the walls and streamers and pride flags waving from the ceiling, color explodes from this cantina like steam from one of their sizzling fajitas. Sip a giant margarita on the roof deck while you shovel down tacos and watch the sun set on West Hollywood. Be prepared to shout over loud pop music and come in hip-casual dress—don’t worry if you forget a shirt. You’ll still be served, likely by waiters showing off their own pecs. Chill out and get hype (the two aren’t mutually exclusive when you’re in SoCal). Take one look at those unicorn floaties and try holding back. You can’t, so live a little.
No cover, beer from $3, drinks from $8; BGLTQ+ friendly; happy hour daily 4pm-8pm
8911 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; (310) 652-7055; ragenightclub.com; open M 6pm-2am, T-Su 1pm-2am
If you want a plain old nightclub, Rage won’t let you down. It’s much more refined than the typical West Hollywood gay establishment. Get there early for a low-key but fun start to your night, complete with techno and music videos to keep things energetic. If you’re looking for something more lit, stick around until 10pm for the crowds, strobes, and bangers. There’s a young crowd—Rage is 18+—but there’s something for every age. If you need some air, chat someone up on the outdoor patio.
Cover on weekends from $5, beer from $7, cocktails from $12; BGLTQ+ friendly; wheelchair accessible; 18+; M is showtunes night, Sa is Latin night
Whiskey A Gogo
8901 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; (310) 652-4202; whiskyagogo.com; open daily 10am-6pm
Hear a rock band play live on the stage that hosted The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Blondie, Linkin Park, and more. At this famous Sunset Strip venue, a band plays every night of the week. Red lights from the stage break into the dark space, with red carpeting and black walls covered in Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin posters. There’s an upstairs and downstairs bar serving a selection of beer, cocktails, and pub food. Get there early to sit upstairs, or stand with the crowd on the floor. Like any authentic rock club, the sound is pristinely balanced and hella loud. Rock out with the crowd of groupies, old schoolers, and good ol’ rock fans out to hear some good ol’ rock music.
Ticket prices vary; beer from $5, mixed drinks from $9; cash only box office; BGLTQ+ friendly; ground floor is wheelchair accessible; all ages; M free for 21+
Graham left behind the stressed-out chaos of Cambridge for the laid back life on the West Coast. A refreshing change of pace, he assumed, until the line for coffee on his first morning took 2 mins longer than he’s used to, and the Northeast nasty jumped out. Starting in Vancouver, Graham meandered south, toning his calves being a pedestrian on San Francisco’s hills and by navigating the monstrosity that is Los Angeles using just his feet and public transit (only resorting to Uber twice!) Graham’s love for the West Coast life only increased as he sat by the Puget Sound in Seattle, sipped kombucha in the crunchy cafes of Portland, climbed into a waterfall in Yosemite and stayed in an abandoned opera house in Death Valley. By the time he hit upper 80s sun of San Diego, buff calves and sun tanned, the words “West Coast, Best Coast,” almost slipped out of his mouth. Identity crisis looming, he figured it was time to go home.