Nothing about planning a birthday is easy. Who are you inviting? What are you even 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 with some friends, 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.
The cold reality is if you’re a low-key bar person, your options in West Hollywood are almost nonexistent. Save for Surly Goat, of course. 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 one of the most diverse crowds you’ll find. 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.
When in doubt, bowling always works on birthdays. But just in case you aren’t in the mood for weird drunk guys drinking 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 refurbishment and it is all kinds of amazing: old-school cocktails, good pizza, and a crowd you actually want to be around.
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 traditional English bar doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the aggressive-themed interior is oddly comforting, and the crowd never gets too intolerable. But you’ve got your eyes on that private back room, with its own bar and enough room to get your dance on.
Good beer, lots of space, and an entire row of skee ball in the back? Sounds like a birthday party we can get behind. Arts District Brewing might not have the best beer downtown right now (that award goes to Mumford Brewing), but no one can deny how great this place is for big groups. Bonus: You can order any food you want from Fritzi next door. And trust us, you’ll want that rotisserie chicken.
James’ Beach is definitely a restaurant, but it's more so a bar, and also a fictional Jason Segal character 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 so nobody in the birthday crew will feel left out, 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, 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 on your most special day.
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 scary, 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.
When you’re dealing with a big group birthday situation, the key is to keep everyone (and yourself) entertained at all times. Abigaile in Hermosa Beach is basically a one-stop-shop birthday destination. Want a casual dinner with friends? Check. And maybe some heavy beer drinking at the bar afterwards? Done. Which leads to you and the crew dancing your faces off at the upstairs dance floor? It’s your night. And if you’re still looking to crank it up a notch, you have the best nightlife in the South Bay within walking distance.
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 the case for EightyTwo. The Arts District spot certainly gets crowded, but the space is very conducive to large groups when it needs to be. 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 premise as well.