Not only is Santa Monica home to some of the country’s most beloved beaches, it is also home to one of Los Angeles’ most open-minded and fun-loving communities. From the locals who have called Santa Monica home their entire lives to newer residents, Santa Monica is a vibrant and growing community made up of people from all walks of life, making it the perfect place to stay as an LGBTQ lifestyle traveler.
And while West Hollywood usually comes to mind as the go-to destination for LGBTQ and gay travel tourists near Los Angeles, Santa Monica’s relaxed beach atmosphere and liberal way of life might just be more of what you’re looking for during a getaway. So, let’s talk Santa Monica and what makes it an ideal area for LGBTQ travelers. By Breanna Wilson
Los Angeles’ Most Popular LGBTQ-Friendly Beach
Santa Monica’s Will Rogers State Beach, Los Angeles’ unofficial LGBTQ beach (with its own LGBTQ section of the beach), is a great place to mix and mingle with LGBTQ locals. This well-kept beach and popular surf spot offers amenities such as volleyball courts, restrooms, gymnastics equipment—and The Marvin Braude Bike Trail, also known as The South Bay Bicycle Trail or The Strand, runs right through it. Will Rogers State Beach is part of the larger Will Rogers State Historic Park, which boasts popular hiking trails such as the two-mile loop to Inspiration Point and the Backbone Trail which heads right into the Santa Monica Mountains.
For more sun, sand and ocean breezes, head to the area of Santa Monica State Beach in front of Dorthy Green Park (where Ocean Park Blvd ends). Located near lifeguard station 26, this spot is a popular LGBTQ hangout. Bonus: popular gay bar The Birdcage – located just inland from this stretch of beach – operates “The Beach Club” here on Saturdays on Sundays, weather permitting.
LGBTQ-Friendly Santa Monica Hotels
You can’t go wrong with the JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot beachfront hotel. Especially considering the chain’s embrace of the LGBTQ community and open belief in equality. Just check out their #LoveTravels campaign as proof. The full service on-site spa and Le Troquet Patio Lounge are just two of the perks that come with staying here.
The Viceroy Santa Monica with its trendy vibe is a local LGBTQ lifestyle favorite because of its affiliation with the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association. From the expansive outdoor patio and pools to the posh cabanas, the Viceroy offers everything that you need in one place. And when you’re ready to get out and explore the best of Santa Monica, a fleet of guests-only bicycles are ready to be taken for a spin.
For a more boutique hotel in Santa Monica, look at Palihouse Santa Monica as your escape. In a quieter part of Santa Monica, this 33-room hotel is known for its attentive staff and chic amenities. Guests have raved about the hotel lobby's eclectic interior design and relaxing environment, making Palihouse a great place to start and end any day in Santa Monica.
Fall in love with Huntley Santa Monica Beach for its stylish interiors, unique hotel amenities and personalized services. This hotel is just a short walk from the beach and famous Santa Monica Pier and boasts restaurant and bar, The Penthouse, located on the 18th floor with unparalleled views. Installed with panoramic windows, take in gorgeous sights of the ocean, the Santa Monica skyline, Malibu mountains and even the Hollywood sign.