Scorpion Bowl at Tiki No
Photograph: Becky Reams for Time Out

13 ways to celebrate your birthday in L.A. as an adult

From drunken karaoke to day trips, here are the best birthday ideas for your next celebration in L.A.

Michael Juliano
Advertising

Happy birthday! Well, we don’t actually know if today is your birthday, but it will be at some point this year. And when that day comes along, you’ll be in need of birthday ideas to celebrate in Los Angeles. Look, you could just hit up a gift shop or book an evening at a romantic restaurant—whether you’re treating yourself or someone else—but we much prefer planning a truly unique L.A. experience, the kind of day that you or your birthday pal will surely remember (perhaps a little fuzzily). Whether you’re eagerly counting down the days or anxiously awaiting a milestone, here are a bunch of fun birthday ideas for your next L.A. celebration. (Psst: Don’t pass up these brithday freebies either.)

Birthday ideas for a celebration in L.A.

  • Downtown Arts District
  • price 2 of 4

Think of this as a Chuck E. Cheese’s birthday party for grown-ups. Arts District hangout EightyTwo was one of the first barcade-style spots to hit L.A., and it remains one of our favorites thanks both its game selection and its drink menu (the D.J., a twist on an old-fashioned that’s lit on fire, is practically made for birthdays). At any given time, you’ll find a rotating lineup of about 30 classic arcade cabinets (think: NBA JamGalagaThe Simpsons) and nearly two dozen decades-spanning pinball machines.

Check out more of our favorite arcade bars in L.A.

Advertising
  • Japanese
  • Santa Monica
  • price 2 of 4

With locations all over town, Kazunori Nozawa’s mini-empire favors straightforward, no-nonsense fresh sushi, sashimi and hand rolls over the usual Dragon and Rainbow rolls—as exemplified by Nozawa’s trademark “Trust Me” menu item, which decides diners’ sushi dishes for them. You can get that dinner for free on your birthday, though you’ll have to meet a couple of conditions and fill out some paperwork first. The short version: bring a check-in card to Sugarfish on two separate visits within a year and you can redeem it for a “Trust Me” gift on your birthday.

See more things you can get for free on your birthday.

Advertising
  • Attractions
  • Big Bear
  • price 2 of 4

L.A.’s closest thing to an alpine escape, Big Bear doubles as both a winter and summer recreation area. Visit on your birthday during the snowy season and you’ll get a free lift ticket that’s good until 4pm—all you need is a valid ID. In the summer, you can opt for lift tickets to the bike park or on the scenic sky chairlift, as well as for a round of golf or a go on the climbing wall. In all cases, you’ll need to pick up your pass in-person at a ticket window.

Advertising
  • Things to do

There’s plenty to do here in L.A. for your birthday. But sometimes you have the itch to go somewhere new, and luckily we happen to be surrounded by spectacular landscapes, beautiful beaches and small towns perfect for day trips. From wine tasting in Santa Barbara to vintage hunting in the desert or feeling the sand between your toes down south, you’re sure to find a short trip worth taking (we’ve picked out 15 of our favorite destinations in the link below).

Advertising
  • Things to do

Bowling alleys abound in Los Angeles—some new and highfalutin’ with cocktail bars and dress codes, others old and divey, crumbling with character. You can knock ’em down all over the city, but consider an evening at L.A.’s most unique alleys—the steampunk-esque lanes at Highland Park Bowl or the swanky private lanes at the Spare Room—for a special birthday celebration.

  • Things to do

Some park guests mistakenly believe that the happiest place on earth is free on your birthday—blame it on a limited time 2009 promotion that offered just that—so let’s clear this up: Disneyland is not free on your birthday. It is, however, a magical place to mark another year. Stop by City Hall (or the Chamber of Commerce in California Adventure) on your way in and pick up a pin-on birthday button. Seemingly every employee you encounter will wish you a happy birthday for the rest of the day.

Looking for something other than chicken fingers while you’re there? Check out the 30 best things to eat at Disneyland.

Advertising
  • Things to do

With L.A.’s near-perfect weather year-round, picnicking is always an option. For birthdays, the alfresco tradition works as both an intimate date night or a casual gathering of friends. Legally, you’ll have to leave the wine at home—save for some specially ticketed events in the summer—but a bit of food and some fresh air still sounds like a pretty sweet birthday to us.

When you’re craving wines by the flights but a boozy weekend getaway among the vines just isn’t in the cards, worry not: L.A.’s wine shops are the next best thing. Just like visiting a winery, you’ll pay a fee to sip through a flight of wines based on a theme—maybe all reds or whites, or all New World zinfandels—and walk away with discounted bottles and some newfound knowledge that’ll have you feeling like an expert.

Advertising
  • Sex and dating
  • Thai Town
  • price 1 of 4

Jumbo’s isn’t just a strip club… it’s an experience, and practically a birthday rite of passage in L.A. There’s a reason there’s always a line out the door at Hollywood’s hipster crown jewel of bikini bars—we’re just always too mesmerized by the badass pole-spinners and stiff drinks too articulate why. Everyone goes to Jumbo’s: single men and women, couples, groups of friends and, of course, the ever-present golden-agers. There’s no cover, but tipping is strongly encouraged.

Recommended
    You may also like
    You may also like
    Advertising