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Thankfully the world has evolved and although gay bars will always be needed, wanted and loved, it’s now not unconscionable for everyone, no matter of who they love, to party, drink and enjoy the night together, under the same roof.
There was a time when Laguna Beach had its staple gay bars, which were a much needed presence during their reign of the beach city, and its very possible that in the future, more will make their way back to Laguna Beach, but until then, the city is filled with options galore, and don’t worry, there’s still one pretty amazing gay bar, celebrating it’s 60th anniversary this year, which we’ll get to, as we want to save the best for last.
In 1926, a liquor store and a hardware store opened on the corner of Pearl Street and Pacific Coast Highway, and in 1946 it became its current namesake The Seahorse, which was actually Laguna Beach’s first gay bar. For many years, it operated as a secret watering hole for the local gay community until it was eventually turned back to retail as Laguna Auto Parts…and now it’s back to its original roots. The bar celebrates diversity and inclusion and is a bar for everyone, with a really special history for the LGBTQ community. It’s a great place to start the evening with happy hour or even daytime drinks, as it’s open from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Surf & Sand Resort in South Laguna has two option; Splashes Bar and 15FiftyFive to enjoy the sunsets with the latter having couches and comfy chairs around a massive fireplace, to lounge in. Splashes hangs right over the sand and is a bit more on the social side. Or visit The Deck, an open-air bar with fire pits and some of the best specialty cocktails on the beach.
The Stateroom Bar provides a bit of history with your order with a series of drinks named in honor of other legendary Laguna Beach nightspots, like the now closed Boom Boom Room. Or hang with the locals at The Saloon, located along historic Peppertree Lane, and which gives off more of a speakeasy vibe. For something a bit more upscale, visit Watermarc which has a really fun drinks menu, or Wine Gallery, where even a wine novice can feel comfortable talking about different varietals (and don’t worry, they have beers on tap as well).
What once was more of an age-old biker bar vibe, The Marine Room is now giving off some serious hipster vibes as proved by their impressive whiskey selection and live acts on stage every night. Mozambique also has a curated music scene but its best known for their Sunday reggae nights. And of course there’s Orange County’s oldest restaurant and nightclub, The White House, which is an eclectic mix of ‘80s cover bands, open mic night and house DJs.
The Sandpiper or the “Dirty Bird,” as its affectionately known as to locals is Laguna Beach’s one true dive bar, and if you want more information on it, you’re out of luck, as there is no website…so just show up and take to the dance floor – no dress code whatsoever. Brussels Bistro is more of an international style nightspot with different styles of electronic dance music like house and trance, and the crowds tend to be on the younger end of the age spectrum.
Celebrating 60 years in Laguna Beach, Main Street Bar hasn’t necessarily changed much in that it’s always been an all-welcoming bar, safe-haven and place to just let loose. Here patrons can turn off their smart phones and play bingo with drag queens, or sing to their hearts content at karaoke night, both ongoing weekly events. But bingo and karaoke aren’t the only things this bar is serving, it’s also one of the best late night spots for ending your evening with cocktails on the dance floor, in a judgment free zone, where anyone and everyone is welcome, so long as they are there to have a good time. They may be the last (gay) bar standing, but that only proves that throughout its 60 year history, the bar has cemented its place in the city, and it serves as a reminder to the local community that Laguna Beach was and still is a pioneer in Southern California’s quest for LGBTQ acceptance. Main Street Bar & Cabaret is that gay bar we all get nostalgic about, the bar we are all welcome at, and the place we should continue to visit and support.
With such a variety in places to choose from, it shouldn’t be too difficult to craft a unique night out in Laguna Beach. The good news is, most everything is within a reasonable walking distance, so once you park your car, or get dropped off by your ride-share (which we suggest using), all of your options are within a close proximity, making it really easy to hop, skip or walk your way from bar to bar. Please drink responsibly and if you need a ride and don’t use ride share, your bartenders are always happy to call you a cab once you’ve closed out the night and the lights have come back on.