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23 Awesome Retro Things To Do In Los Angeles For A Different Experience

Los Angeles, a city synonymous with innovation and tomorrow’s trends, is also a treasure trove of throwbacks. It’s a place where cinematic streets whisper tales of Hollywood’s Golden Age and Art Deco wonders stand tall amidst modern marvels. The retro things to do in Los Angeles are not mere activities; they’re time-traveling tickets, inviting you to waltz with the past while grooving in the present. So, polish those loafers, put on your cat-eye glasses, and let’s journey through LA’s illustrious lanes of legacy.

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The Egyptian Theatre

Egyptian Theatre

We start off this list of awesome retro things to do in Los Angeles with The Egyptian Theatre. Nestled on the legendary Hollywood Boulevard, this cinematic gem is more than just a theater; it’s a trip down memory lane to a time when movie-going was an event, an experience. Built in the Roaring Twenties (1922, to be precise), it flaunts architecture inspired by, you guessed it, ancient Egypt. You half expect Cleopatra to greet you at the door!

The theater opened with the silent film “Robin Hood,” and, trust me, those walls have since absorbed the laughter, tears, and gasps of countless movie-goers. Its grand courtyard, lined with sphinxes and hieroglyphics, might seem a tad over the top for a casual Saturday movie night, but that’s the point! It’s not just about watching a film; it’s about being transported to an era where glamour and drama reigned supreme. So, next time you’re in LA, trade your streaming service for a ticket to the past at the Egyptian Theatre. Because, let’s be real, Netflix might remember our last paused show, but the Egyptian Theatre remembers the classics!

The El Capitan Theatre

El Capitan Theatre

Roll out the red carpet and dust off those binoculars; we’re diving into one of the most splendid retro things to do in Los Angeles: a visit to the El Capitan Theatre. Situated right in the heart of Hollywood, this majestic venue is a nostalgic nod to the golden age of cinema. Built in 1926, the El Capitan isn’t just another theatre; it’s a living relic, dripping with Gatsby-esque glam and a sprinkle of Hollywood magic.

The ornate East Indian design, sumptuous red velvet seats, and the Wurlitzer organ performances make you feel like you’ve stepped into a cinematic time capsule. And the movie premieres? Oh, darling, they’re events unto themselves! Remember when everyone and their aunt had a feathered bob? Neither do I, but a night at the El Capitan makes you feel like you were there. As one of the defining retro things to do in Los Angeles, this venue proves that while movies might be fleeting, classic style is forever.

The Orpheum Theatre

Orpheum Theatre retro things to do in los angeles 2

If you’ve got a penchant for old-world glam and a flair for the dramatic, then let me introduce you to a prime jewel among retro things to do in Los Angeles: the Orpheum Theatre. Established way back in 1926 (yes, when flapper dresses and Charleston moves were all the rage), this theater is like a fine wine – only getting better with age.

With its stunning Beaux-Arts facade and an interior that makes you wonder if you’ve accidentally time-traveled, the Orpheum is nothing short of a cultural masterpiece. From hosting vaudeville acts to showcasing some of the biggest names in music and theatre, this grand old dame has seen it all! The plush red seats, the awe-inspiring chandeliers, and, dare I say, the ghosts of performances past, all add to the allure.

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Vintage Drive-Ins

Vintage Drive-Ins

As we cruise down the memory lane, there’s one stop that simply cannot be overlooked in our roster of retro things to do in Los Angeles: the iconic Vintage Drive-Ins. Now, I’m not talking about just any old parking lot. Oh no, these are the hallowed grounds where classic Hollywood romances unfolded on massive screens, as young lovers and families cozied up in their Cadillacs. Born in a time when Elvis was king and poodle skirts were all the rage, these drive-ins became the social hubs of yesteryears.

And the charm? It hasn’t faded one bit. With the starlit LA sky as your ceiling and the gentle hum of vintage cars around, it’s an ambiance straight out of a James Dean flick. But here’s the clincher: while the movies might be new, the experience is pure old-school. From the retro speakers hanging by your car window to the vintage concession stands selling buttery popcorn, it’s a delightful blend of then and now.

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The Fairfax Flea Market

The Fairfax Flea Market

If you’re on the hunt for quintessentially retro things to do in Los Angeles, then the Fairfax Flea Market is your treasure trove waiting to be discovered. Situated smack dab in the heart of the city, this isn’t just any market – it’s a veritable time capsule! Established decades ago, when bell-bottoms were a fashion statement and vinyl was the music medium of choice, the Fairfax Flea Market has been delighting visitors with its eclectic blend of old and new ever since.

Think of it as your quirky Aunt Edna’s attic, but on steroids. From vintage clothing that would make even Madonna jealous to rare collectibles that hark back to Hollywood’s Golden Era, there’s a surprise waiting at every turn. But here’s the kicker: amidst the whirlwind of artifacts and antiques, you’ll also stumble upon the occasional street musician belting out classics, adding to the market’s palpable charm. It’s like a party where every decade’s invited.

Melrose Avenue Vintage Boutiques

Melrose Avenue Vintage Boutiques

Alright, fashionistas and retro revivalists, lean in, because here’s the lowdown: if you’re sauntering through LA with an eye for throwback threads and hidden gems, Melrose Avenue’s Vintage Boutiques are the place to be. A pulsating vein in the heart of Los Angeles, Melrose Avenue is more than just a street—it’s a catwalk that showcases the very best of yesteryears’ fashions.

Nestled among the street’s modern storefronts are boutiques that seem to have time-traveled straight out of the groovy ’70s, punky ’80s, and even the grungy ’90s. Each shop is an Aladdin’s cave of treasures, bursting with pieces that tell tales of past eras. Picture this: vibrant jackets reminiscent of Bowie’s glam rock days, dresses that scream Marilyn, and leather boots with just the right amount of edge. But, the cherry on top? The shopkeepers! They’re not just sellers; they’re historians of fashion, curating stories one garment at a time.

Retro Row In Long Beach

Retro Row In Long Beach

Now, this isn’t just any old row of shops—it’s a dazzling boulevard of yesteryears’ whims and wonders which makes it a perfect fit for this list of retro things to do in Los Angeles. Sprawling along the famous 4th Street, Retro Row is a vibrant tapestry of boutiques, eateries, and theaters, each oozing with vibes from days gone by. Think neon signs from the swinging ’60s, vinyl records spinning tunes of a bygone era, and the smell of old leather from jackets that have seen more concerts than most of us! But what makes this place an absolute must-visit?

It’s the sheer authenticity. Every corner of Retro Row tells a tale, from the mid-century furniture stores to vintage clothing boutiques that would make even Audrey Hepburn do a double-take. And let’s not forget the cafes! Sip on a malt shake as you soak in the ambiance, evocative of a time when rock ‘n’ roll was young and pompadours were the height of fashion.

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Pasadena Antique Mall

Pasadena Antique Mall

Tucked away in the quaint corners of Pasadena, this mall is less of a shopping hub and more of a whimsical wonderland for history buffs and antique aficionados alike. Meandering through its aisles feels akin to embarking on a global time-travel adventure: delicate porcelain from the Victorian era, Art Deco trinkets that gleam with the promise of Gatsby-esque parties, and quirky knick-knacks that whisk you right back to your grandma’s living room.

The beauty? It’s not just about buying; it’s about basking in stories told through objects. Every item, from the ornate mirrors to vintage postcards, has a tale waiting to be unraveled. And the sellers? Oh, honey, they aren’t just vendors; they’re curators of nostalgia, eager to share a story or two.

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Pinball and Arcade Classics: The Pinball Hall of Fame

retro things to do in los angeles

Now, just a heads-up, while this haven of high-scores is actually situated in Las Vegas, it’s an essential pilgrimage for all retro enthusiasts venturing in and around the West Coast. Picture this: a sprawling space echoing with the familiar cacophony of pinball bumpers, arcade bleeps, and the victorious sound of “High Score” flashing on an 8-bit screen. Oh, and the scent? A nostalgic blend of worn-out joysticks and the electrifying buzz of neon lights.

Spanning from the golden age of the 70s to the arcade renaissance of the 90s, the Pinball Hall of Fame is more than just a gallery of games; it’s a chronicle of our collective youth. Remember the sheer thrill of Pac-Man evading those pesky ghosts? Or the adrenaline of launching that silver ball with just the right amount of finesse in pinball? It’s all there, waiting to be relived. And the curators? They’re not just arcade aficionados; they’re guardians of a digital legacy, ensuring that every “Game Over” is just a prelude to another coin drop.

Roller Skating at Moonlight Rollerway

Moonlight Rollerway 2

Nestled in the heart of Glendale, this list of retro things to do in Los Angeles couldn’t be complete without the Moonlight Rollerway. The roller rink isn’t just a place; it’s an era-defining experience. Picture a kaleidoscope of colors from sparkling disco balls, the unmistakable hum of polyurethane wheels against a gleaming wooden floor, and the infectious beats of 70s and 80s hits beckoning you to groove.

Since its heyday, Moonlight Rollerway has been the epicenter of LA’s roller-skating culture, where novices and pros alike converge for a whirlwind ride down memory lane. Remember when roller skates were the quintessential accessory, and Saturday nights meant dancing on wheels till your legs felt like jelly? It’s that vibe, preserved and bottled up in this iconic rink. And the staff? Oh, they’re not just folks manning the rental booth; they’re custodians of cool, keepers of a culture where rhythm rules and style is skated, not just worn.

Vintage Bowling Alleys: Highland Park Bowl

Highland Park Bowl

Nestled in the vibrant neighborhood of Highland Park, this alley isn’t your run-of-the-mill, neon-lit bowling joint. Oh no, it’s a trip right back to the Roaring Twenties when flappers and jazz ruled and bowling was the bee’s knees.

Established in 1927, the Highland Park Bowl boasts an ambiance that’s as rich in history as it is in style. With its meticulously restored murals, original wooden lanes, and classic pin-setters, it’s as much a museum of bowling’s golden age as it is a hotspot for modern-day aficionados. And the cocktails? Think Prohibition-era sophistication with a twist, served up in an atmosphere dripping with old-world charm.

The Museum of Neon Art (MONA)

retro things to do in los angeles

From the get-go, MONA has shone brightly, championing all things neon, from its artistry to its rich history with its spaces awash with vivid hues, with each humming sign echoing tales of classic Hollywood eateries, theaters, and hotspots.

The exhibits are like colorful chapters of LA’s neon story, tracing back from its glitzy beginnings in the ’20s to its pop culture comebacks today. But what makes MONA really stand out among LA’s retro activities is its unwavering commitment to keeping this art form alive. It’s not just a bright spot in a city; it’s a glowing guardian of LA’s brilliant past, making sure the neon light continues to shine.

The Getty House: A Glimpse of Old Hollywood

getty house retro things to do in los angeles

If you’ve got a penchant for some classic cinematic splendor amidst the medley of retro things to do in Los Angeles, allow me to spotlight: The Getty House. This architectural marvel doesn’t merely stand in Windsor Square—it reigns supreme, exuding the elegance and opulence of Old Hollywood.

Constructed in the 1920s, the Getty House is less a domicile and more a diary of a glittering era. With its sweeping staircases, ornate chandeliers, and sprawling gardens, it’s like stepping into a black-and-white film where every room has a story, every nook a secret. But it’s not just the architecture that draws visitors; it’s the legacy. Over the decades, the Getty House has played host to a parade of silver screen stars, political bigwigs, and tales of tinsel town trysts.

Angels Flight Railway

Angels Flight Railway

Nestled in the heart of downtown LA, this isn’t just any railway—it’s a nostalgic nod to the city’s vibrant past. Chugging along since 1901, Angels Flight is more than just a funicular; it’s a time machine on tracks. Climb aboard these iconic orange and black cars, and you’re instantly transported to an LA of yesteryears, where the bustle of Broadway met the glamour of old-time cinemas.

And the view? Oh, honey, it’s nothing short of cinematic—a panoramic spectacle of the urban jungle, with skyscrapers kissing the sky and the hum of the city echoing below. But what truly sets Angels Flight apart is its resilience. Having weathered the sands of time, relocations, and restorations, it stands today as a testament to the city’s ever-evolving narrative, bridging the gap between the old and the new.

The Whisky a Go Go

The Whisky a Go Go

Since its grand curtain rise in 1964, The Whisky a Go Go has been less about the booze and all about the beats. Picture this: walls that have echoed the raw riffs of The Doors, the thunderous anthems of Led Zeppelin, and the rebellious roars of Motörhead. And that stage? It’s not just wood and nails; it’s hallowed ground, having borne witness to the rise of countless rock legends and their era-defining performances.

But here’s the encore: amidst the flashing stage lights and electric air, The Whisky a Go Go retains its soul. It’s not just about ticket sales or packed houses; it’s about preserving a legacy, championing a culture where music reigns supreme and where every chord tells a tale. So, whether you’re an old-school rocker or a new-age audiophile, this iconic venue is a must-visit.

The Dresden Room

dresden room

Having first swung open its doors in 1954, The Dresden Room has been the go-to rendezvous for those in the know. Picture plush velvet seats, shimmering chandeliers, and the melodic hum of a classic piano. It’s the kind of place where Frank Sinatra might’ve tipped his hat and where golden age stars would sip martinis under a gentle, moody glow. But it’s not all about the old-school allure; it’s also about the iconic musical duo, Marty and Elayne, who’ve jazzed up the joint with their tunes for decades.

What truly cements The Dresden Room’s legendary status, though, is its authenticity. Amidst the glitz of LA’s ever-changing nightlife, it remains steadfast, offering a haven where the charm of the ’50s and ’60s is not only preserved but celebrated. So, if you’re yearning for an evening that’s equal parts nostalgia and nuance, pull up a chair here.

Catch a Jazz Night at The Cicada Club

cicada club

Ever since тхе плаце опенед in the roaring ’20s, The Cicada Club has been the epitome of opulence and (with time) old-world charm. The club had a grand ballroom adorned with Art Deco details, where the sultry sounds of saxophones merge seamlessly with the soft rustling of flapper dresses. It’s the kind of ambiance where Jay Gatsby would raise a toast and where legends like Ella Fitzgerald might’ve serenaded the night away. But it’s not just the surroundings that enchant; it’s the musical maestros who, week after week, resurrect the rhythms of yore, making the past palpably present.

But here’s the crescendo: beyond its lavish interiors and melodious nights, The Cicada Club stands as a testament to LA’s undying love for jazz. It’s a place where bygone eras aren’t just remembered; they’re relived.

Nostalgic Rides in Classic Cars

retro things to do in los angeles

Imagine, if you will, the sun setting on Sunset Strip, and there you are, behind the wheel of a gleaming ’57 Chevy or a pristine Cadillac Eldorado, with chrome details catching the golden hour glow. It’s the sort of scene straight out of a James Dean flick or perhaps a sultry Marilyn Monroe moment. These classic rides, with their curvaceous silhouettes and roaring engines, are more than mere transportation; they’re a ticket to a bygone era of cool. And while LA is no stranger to luxury vehicles of the modern age, nothing quite beats the charm and sheer magnetism of these vintage vixens.

Now, for the twist: Among the myriad of retro things to do in Los Angeles, taking a spin in one of these automotive beauties is, without a doubt, a top-tier experience. It’s a dance of old-world elegance with contemporary city streets, blending the nostalgia of yesteryears with the dynamism of today.

Dapper Day at Disneyland

Dapper Day at Disneyland

Situated in the heart of the entertainment capital, this isn’t just a tour—it’s a backstage pass to a glamorous past. Picture this: cruising down Hollywood Boulevard in an open-top bus, each turn revealing a story, a landmark, a memory. The echoes of Clark Gable’s laughter, the phantom scent of Audrey Hepburn’s perfume, the very spots where legends like Bogart and Bacall shared stolen moments.

With Starline Tours, you’re not just an observer—you’re a participant, stepping right into the scenes of Hollywood’s heyday. It’s a different experience peppered with tales of glitz, drama, and the occasional scandal (because, darling, it wouldn’t be Hollywood without a bit of intrigue).

The Art Deco Festival on the Queen Mary

Art Deco Festival

Lastly, we wrap up this list of the best retro things to do in Los Angeles with the Art Deco Festival. Envision the grandeur of the Queen Mary, already an icon of luxury and engineering marvel, transformed into a living canvas of Art Deco delight. From geometric patterns that dance under the glint of chandeliers to the swirl of flapper dresses against a backdrop of jazz-infused melodies, the festival captures the essence of the Roaring ’20s in the most immersive way. The ship’s already storied halls come alive with aficionados, each wearing Gatsby-esque garb, sharing tales, toasting champagne, and reveling in the rebirth of a golden age.

Now, for the cinematic zoom-out: Among the cornucopia of retro things to do in Los Angeles, the Art Deco Festival on the Queen Mary shines as a beacon of elegance and nostalgia. It’s a momentary voyage back in time, a fleeting fusion of past and present where attendees are not just spectators, but co-stars in a vibrant vintage vignette.

How did you like this list of retro things to do in Los Angeles? Did you ever try any of them? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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