Traveling with Pride: Los Angeles and WeHo
Locals love Los Angeles Pride, with its huge three-day weekend festival set smack in the middle of SoCal gay central (West Hollywood Park), and its sunny Sunday parade down Santa Monica Boulevard. But with so much Pride happening in other destinations during the month of June, for many LGBT travelers LA Pride is still somehow an undiscovered secret -- and that's just plain wrong.
Los Angeles Pride's mid-June timing (June 12 -14 this year) -- scheduled that way so the proudest Angelenos can also attend the end-of-June San Francisco Pride -- means it never conflicts on the calendar with New York's, or any of the other Stonewall anniversary weekend Prides around the country or the world.
Of course Hollywood is actually part of Los Angeles, so star power is always major at LA Pride -- and this year, the event's 45th anniversary, is no exception. R&B singer Tamar Braxton kicks things off on Friday, showcasing the festival's yearly free women's night Lavender Menace. Pop superstar and LA native Kesha then headlines Saturday night on the festival's main stage, while Mexican singer and Latin Grammy winner Ana Bárbara will grace the Latino Carnival stage. Girl group Fifth Harmony, who toured last summer with 2014 LA Pride Grand Marshal Demi Lovato, will perform at the festival post-parade on Sunday night.
Hooray for Hollywood
You can't come to LA and not experience Hollywood - and there's no better place to dive headlong into its glory, both past and present, than at the fantastic Hollywood Museum. Located in the old star-beautifying headquarters of Max Factor just south of Hollywood Boulevard, the museum boasts more than 10,000 fascinating bits of memorabilia, and displays a rotating and constantly updated selection of the best of them on its four huge floors, from Judy Garland's ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz," to Viola Davis's trademark leather jacket from this TV season's runaway hit "How to Get Away with Murder."
Gay-specific stuff (à la a display dedicated to silent-era film legend Ramon Novarro) is always plentiful, but it'll get special attention during Pride season again this year when for the second time, the museum will dedicate an entire floor to the exhibit "Reel to Real: Portrayals and Perceptions of Gays in Hollywood." Last year the exhibit was so popular that it ran through September, and it will run for at least a month around Pride again this year.
To have a gander at today's stars in their natural habitat, your options are naturally plentiful in LA. Stars love to eat, and they often cluster in places where they know other stars also dine - and are therefore less likely to be pestered by the rest of us. These days several of the top star-spotting restaurants are located along a few-block stretch of Melrose Avenue in the ultra-cool West Hollywood Design District, including the fabulous Venetian-cuisined Cecconi's, the American-fared Craig's, and the vegetarian Mexican Gracias Madre.
To step backwards in time and break bread where Rudolf Valentino, Liz Taylor, and literally hundreds of other bygone stars have done the same (and occasionally still do), head up to Musso & Frank Grill on Hollywood Boulevard, serving great food to high Hollywood and hoi polloi alike for nearly a century (which for young LA is a very long time indeed).
Sleep Like a Celeb
Great hotels abound in LA, but a couple of your most solid and satisfying overall options include Hollywood Boulevard's Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, where old Hollywood history (Marilyn Monroe lived here for two years in a room you can still rent, and the hotel's Blossom Room was the site of the very first Academy Awards) melds with modern Hollywood sensibility (the Roosevelt now sometimes hosts events by the super-hip A Club Called Rhonda). Another sometime Rhonda host is Sunset Boulevard's fab Mondrian, with its mod decor, hot and hospitable staff, deeply scene-y pool, and fantastic views of downtown LA.
Gay Gay Gay
The official tourism websites of both Los Angeles and West Hollywood include dedicated LGBT sections, where you can find scores of other recommendations, as well as all the latest gay club and event information.
Alaska Airlines is offering a seven percent discount to not only this event, but also dozens of Pride celebrations throughout 2015. Alaska flies to Los Angeles from several gateways, including Seattle, Washington D.C., Vancouver and more.
This story is part of our special report titled "Traveling With Pride." Want to read more? Here's the full list.