In a city as big, spread out and full of transplants as L.A., it's easy to be a loner.
Between hours spent sitting alone in traffic and the fact that plenty of adults have had their friend groups nailed down since roughly middle school, it can be a struggle to meet new people, let alone forge new, meaningful friendships. Of course, there are loads of other nice, well-balanced grown-ups who are looking to meet people with common interests and hobbies — it's just a matter of finding them. Here are a few ways to make friends and have fun in the process.
Were you a childhood Trivial Pursuit champ? It might be time to air out your competitive side once again. Game nights, including trivia and bingo, are some of the best places across the city to meet new people — and instantly bond over an insatiable desire to win. From Red Lion Tavern in Silver Lake (Mondays) to T. Boyle's Tavern in Pasadena (Sundays), there's somewhere to play trivia every night of the week (hey, here's a handy list). But for people looking for more camp in their competition, there’s really only one type of night to attend: drag queen bingo. The signature event at West Hollywood’s Hamburger Mary’s, Legendary Bingo is wildly entertaining and takes place four times weekly (twice on Wednesdays and twice on Sundays). For more subdued fun, Grand Central Market hosts a game night every Thursday, with card and table games, plus cornhole (aka bags, depending on which part of the country you're from) and ping pong. Find someone playing your favorite game and join in.
Meetup.com was basically invented for the exact purpose of connecting people who share similar interests; I mean, its tagline is “find your people.” The website features listings for a variety of organized activities, ranging from guided hikes to kung fu training and expat happy hours. Each event is independently organized by a group geared toward further uniting groups of locals, i.e. dancers, filmmakers, designers, real estate agents, techies, psychics and many more — if you're into it, there's probably a meetup group organizing activities for it. (There's even a SoCal Pokemon Go meetup that's 500 members strong.) Since the events are connected to these groups, meetups offer an opportunity for individuals to become part of a broader community — and, if they so desire, continue to attend meetups on a regular basis. And if there aren't any meetups on the site that spark your interest, you can take the initiative to start your own group and lead activities for others looking for a similar experience.
If you have the cash to spare, joining a private club is a great way to simultaneously meet new people and enjoy the perks of a luxury facility. Most of the popular clubs are geared toward a certain demographic, so joining one will put you up close and personal with like-minded locals: Soho House in West Hollywood is ideal for creative professional and entertainment industry schmoozing, the California Yacht Club caters to Gilligan’s Island fans and East Coast transplants, and the Jonathan Beach Club is perfect for families and beach bums. By joining a club, you’ll gain access not only to the facilities — which often include pools, restaurants, workspaces and more — but also to the organization’s event calendar. From wine tastings to movie screenings and kids groups, these events help connect members who have similar interests and hobbies (and salaries).
For people with the time and desire to give back to the community, volunteering offers the opportunity to meet new people and rack up some serious karma points in the process. Local charitable organizations such as Homeboy Industries, Midnight Mission, Heal the Bay and the Giving Spirit each have a unique mission — from helping former gang members break the cycle of violence to helping homeless families get back on their feet — and they set up a variety of opportunities for those hoping to help out. (There's also this list of organizations that are always looking for help, particularly when it's not the holiday season.) Whether you’re cleaning up the beach or preparing meals at a shelter, you’re guaranteed to feel good about giving back, all while connecting with other locals with similar mindsets and priorities. This can be especially ideal for those struggling with the pressure of Hollywood or materialism of L.A.; volunteering can help connect you to a deeper, more compassionate side of the community (it exists, we promise).
Recreational sports teams
Softball and soccer teams aren't just for kids and pros. In recent years, loads of leagues for adult laypeople have sprouted up, offering young professionals an opportunity to blow off steam while meeting new friends. For people questioning their athleticism after years behind a desk, don’t fret — the leagues tend to be relaxed and to emphasize the social aspect as much as they emphasize the sports themselves. For the most popular organizer in L.A., ZogSports, every game ends at a bar where teams can mix, mingle and toast or lament their game’s outcome. ZogSports offers teams in bowling, dodgeball, soccer, volleyball, basketball, football, kickball and softball, with leagues spread across neighborhoods and games taking place on varying days of the week.