Nothing about planning a birthday is easy. Who are you inviting? What are you doing? Why can’t you be 24 forever? But mostly, how can you have as much fun as possible? Finding a bar that makes all your friends (and most importantly you) happy is always a challenge, so we’re here to do the heavy lifting for you.
Whether you’re looking for a big group all-night dance-a-thon, a quiet booth, or just a spot where you can take over and get sloppy, all your birthday bar answers are right here.
We can help with your birthday eating too - check out the best LA restaurants for birthdays here.
If you’re looking for a big open space for you and your friends to take over, Girl At The White Horse is not your spot. But if you want to party at the best new bar in LA, with a dance floor that gets wild in a hurry, then this is it. Broken up into many tiny nooks and crannies, White Horse is the kind of place you could stumble around in all night and feel like you haven’t seen it all. The cocktails come in plastic to-go cups with straws, there’s a decent-sized patio in the back, and the dance floor has a disco ball.
If you’re looking to do something totally different this year, head to Art Major. The new Ktown spot calls itself an “art bar,” which in this case means a big room where everybody drinks wine and beer, orders in food from their favorite restaurant, and gets drunk playing old-school boardgames, doing coloring books, and getting emo with an Instant Camera. It’s weird and wonderful and unlike any other bar you’ve ever had a birthday at.
When you’ve given up trying to make everybody happy, just head to Clifton’s Cafeteria. If you can’t find fun there, you can’t find it anywhere. During the day, Clifton’s is a very skippable downtown cafeteria, but at night, it becomes an all-out nightlife metropolis spanning three separate floors. There are multiple bars, a brass band, competitive swing dancing, a hidden tiki room with a boat in the middle of it, and the most intense taxidermy you’ve ever seen. All in all, this place makes for one of the best nights out in the city.
You’re over waiting in all the lines and elbowing your way to a crowded dance floor. You want a cool spot with great beer and good music, where you and your friends can just hang all night. Verdugo Bar is that place. Located in the Northeast neighborhood of Glassell Park, Verdugo doesn’t look like much from the outside, but inside is a great 1930’s-era lounge and a back beer garden you never existed. 22 craft beer taps, live music and DJs, and food trucks on premises will only add to an already great night.
There are very few things to dislike about The Birdcage. The whole place feels like your fun uncle’s house party in Miami, and you’ll probably get into a dance battle with a drag queen at some point. Plus, sipping their frozen rosé on the back balcony is about as good of a reason to throw a day-drinking birthday as you’ll find. Santa Monica isn’t exactly known for having great bars, but The Birdcage is one very excellent exception.
When in doubt, bowling always works on birthdays. But just in case you aren’t in the mood for Coors Lite and bad 90’s music, make a group reservation at Highland Park Bowl. The oldest bowling alley in Los Angeles got a recent revamp and it’s awesome: classic cocktails, good pizza, and a crowd you actually want to be around.
It’s a cold reality: if you’re a low-key bar person, your options in West Hollywood are almost nonexistent. Save for Surly Goat. Located in a nondescript black building on Santa Monica, Surly Goat is one of the best rare beer bars in the entire city, and a surprisingly good spot for a big group. And don’t worry, the crowd isn’t just a bunch of pretentious dudes sitting around talking about acidity levels. There’s shuffleboard, arcade games, and a great side patio for all your birthday revelry.
You want to do a house party this year, but you also live in a two-bedroom apartment with five people. Choose the next best thing and get yourself and your friends to Davey Wayne’s. This over-the-top Hollywood bar is certainly a production to get into (and very crowded once you’re there), but the fact is it’s still fun as sh*t. The place is designed to be a replica of a 1970’s house party, complete with live music in the living room and a snow-cone machine and hammocks in the astroturfed backyard.
You go to a bar, you get a little drunk, and everybody goes home. If ever there was a time to mix up this boring routine, it’s your birthday. Head to Plaza instead. The drag bar on La Brea is easily one of the best and most unique nights you can have in LA, with a great, diverse crowd. Despite looking like a closed-down laundromat from the outside, the space is actually quite large, with a dirt cheap (and cash only) bar, and performances throughout the night. Game changer: they give you a bag of Doritos for every drink you order.
Someday we’ll all be rich enough to go to your destination birthday in Europe, but in the meantime you’re heading to the Pikey on Sunset. The aggressive-themed interior is oddly comforting, and the crowd is far more relaxed than you’d typically find on Sunset. But you’ve got your eyes on that private back room, with its own bar and enough room to dance embarrassingly all night.
James’ Beach is definitely a restaurant, but it’s more of a bar, and a fictional Jason Segal character also claimed it was home to the best fish tacos in the world. There’s a lot going on here. But that just means it’s perfect for your birthday. You can grab a decent dinner in the more subdued dining room and then take the short commute over to the bar where things get rowdy fast. Hot people, strong drinks, those fish tacos are all for the taking.
The Arts District has no shortage of fantastic bars, but for our money, Resident is as good as it gets. Save for a pretty cool indoor performance space, the entire bar is outside. Long communal tables fill the main courtyard, the bar itself is in an Airstream, and there’s always a food truck for when the munchies hit. Doing a day party? No problem. There are water misters to keep things cool.
Some people say Bigfoot Lodge’s woodsy theme is cheesy, and to them we say not cheesy enough. We live in the land of pool days in January and forest fire warnings for the majority of the year, so give us those Yukon vibes all you want. Big Foot is always a good time thanks to its great cocktail list, an unpretentious crowd, and room to get a little rowdy.
Hiding away on the second floor of the Roosevelt Hotel, it’s easy to forget about The Spare Room sometimes. But make no doubt it about, it’s one of the best bars in Hollywood. The place is actually massive, with a great bar area, plenty of booths, and two lanes of bowling to get your cardio in. But put your Lucky Strike fears away - this is old-fashioned bowling and scores are kept by actually writing them down. Just make sure you reserve a lane in advance.
Backstage is a Culver City bar staple. The 80-year-old dive across the street from Sony Studios has no cover, no minimum for groups, and one of the most underrated karaoke situations in town. Drinks are cheap, the bar food is better than it needs to be, and there’s even a firepit in the back. If you want to keep things casual, but still feel like you’re having a real party, Backstage is where you go.
As downtown continues to fill vacant parking lots with new high rises, its rooftop bar situation is only getting stronger. But one of our favorites continues to be Ace Hotel Upstairs. The industrial rooftop has fantastic downtown views, great cocktails, and plenty of private areas for your birthday group to take over.
Lock & Key pretends to be a speakeasy, but don’t let that deter you on your birthday. Because once you figure out the (admittedly very challenging) front door, you realize the Ktown spot is actually just a cool, normal bar inside. The cocktails are solid, as is the food menu, but you’re far more concerned with the signature cocktail punch bowls out on the patio.
Most arcade bars are pretty small and cramped. Not in the case of EightyTwo. The Arts District spot gets crowded, but the space is very conducive to large groups. There’s an area dedicated to old-school arcade games and another area entirely for pinball. And right in between them is where you and your friends will be - on the outdoor patio getting weird. There are food trucks on the premises as well.