100 Places Where You Can Experience Retro Los Angeles

The city’s vintage charm is alive and well—if you know where to look

You know the feeling. It’s the particular nostalgia for a half-imagined Old Los Angeles that compels you to pop in the rose-tinted contact lenses and relive a bygone era. The itch is easy to scratch; our streets are peppered with relics—dim watering holes where Sinatra wiled the night away and roadside diners that haven’t aged a day. Most of the places on this list are genuine holdovers from another time. Some are devoted recreations. All of them tap into that particular old-school allure that keeps us looking back.

Early 1900s and before

1. Carroll Avenue

Carroll Ave.

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Let the Los Angeles Conservancy guide you among the Victorian homes that have been preserved along this street in Echo Park.

2. The Banning Museum

401 E. M St., Wilmington.

Eighteen rooms inside the home of Phineas Banning, “The Father of the Port of Los Angeles,” have been restored to their Victorian glory and are open to the public.

3. Camera Obscura

1450 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica.

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This Victorian curiosity in Santa Monica projects images of the outside world onto a disk in a darkened room.

4. Gamble House

4 Westmoreland Pl., Pasadena.

Built in the early 1900s by legendary Craftsman architects Charles and Henry Greene, it now offers one of the greatest architectural house tours in the city.

5. A to Z Mart

12734 Whittier Blvd., Whittier.

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Exemplary dealers in antique furniture and collectibles.

6. Olvera Street

Olvera St.

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Before it was a colorful tourist destination, Olvera Street cut through the heart of the original pueblo.

7. Baron Hats

1619 W. Burbank Blvd., Burbank.

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They’ve done hats for Westworld, Indiana Jones, The Hateful Eight, and you can order those exact designs and many more from any era.

8. A & Z Nut Wagon

816 S. Lorena St., Boyle Heights. 


The small Boyle Heights shop began as a literal wagon and has been peddling beef jerky and some killer chili lime peanuts for time immemorial.

9. Magee’s House of Nuts

6333 W. 3rd St., Fairfax. 


Watching them churn peanut butter at their Original Farmers Market stall is absolutely mesmerising.

’20s

10. Cicada Club

617 S. Olive St., Downtown L.A.


Swing dance in period dress on Sunday nights in this downtown club tucked inside the Art Deco Oviatt Building.

11. Del Monte Speakeasy

52 Windward Ave, Venice.

Hidden below the Townhouse bar (Venice’s oldest), it’s one of the few legit prohibition speakeasies in the city.

12. The California Feetwarmers

Shows around the L.A. area

These dapper guys keep it lively with their spin on jazz and ragtime classics.

13. Cole’s

118 E 6th St., Downtown L.A.

Who knows (or cares) whether they invented the French Dip sandwich? The place has been around since 1908 and retains an era-appropriate ambiance.

14. Black and Sons Fabric

548 S Los Angeles St., Downtown L.A.

When you need the material to recreate, say, and old fashioned pinstripe suit, this is where you go. They specializes in wool fabrics and have been around since 1922.

15. Pacific Dining Car

1310 W. 6th St., Westlake. 

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Classic steaks. The classic-est.

16. The Original Pantry Cafe

877 S. Figueroa St., Downtown L.A.

This place has been open since 1924—as in, they don’t even have locks on the doors because they’re always there dishing up steaming heaps of hash browns, eggs over easy, and thick slabs of sourdough toast.

17. El Cholo

1121 S. Western Ave., Harvard Heights. 

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Many of the recipes at this L.A. institution, like their egg-topped Sonora style enchilada, date back to its founding in 1923.

18. Tam O’Shanter

2980 Los Feliz Blvd., Atwater Village. 

The storybook style restaurant was designed by architect Harry Oliver (the guy behind the Witch’s House of Beverly Hills. Tam O’Shanter was close by Walt Disney’s original studios, and Disney himself was a devoted regular.

19. HMS Bounty

3357 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown. 

The dingy nautical-themed dive in the lobby of the Gaylord apartments offers stiff drinks for cheap and a vintage ambiance for free.

20. Hollyhock House

Barnsdall Art Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., East Hollywood. 

Conceived as part of an arts complex for oil heiress Aline Barnsdale, it’s the only Frank Lloyd Wright house in L.A. that offers interior tours, and it’s unique for its temple-like layout and abstracted hollyhock motif.

’30s

21. Clifton’s Cafeteria

648 S. Broadway St., Downtown L.A. 

Newly revived in all its kitschy splendor, Clifton’s is a throwback to the pre-Souplantation golden age of cafeteria style restaurants.

22. Logan’s Candies

125 W. B St., Ontario. 

They’re famous for their ribbon candy. When the holidays roll around, you can line up to watch them making candy cane.

23. Harvelle’s

1432 4th St., Santa Monica. 

Dim lighting, red booths, and burlesque dancers set the tone.

24. The Queen Mary

1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach.

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Spend the night aboard a ’30s-era ocean liner with a gorgeous Art Deco stateroom. Be wary when booking a room—some are beautiful with porthole views, others are little more than windowless cabins.

25. Musso and Frank

6667 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. 

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A martini is a must.

26. Canter’s Deli

419 N Fairfax Ave., Fairfax. 

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One of the oldest delis in the state, it first opened in Boyle Heights before moving to Fairfax.

27. Tom Bergin’s House of Irish Coffee

840 S. Fairfax Ave., Mid-Wilshire. 

If you show up at the bar frequently enough, you’ll earn a cardboard shamrock with your name on it tacked to the wall—keep an eye out for Cary Grant’s.

26. Du-par’s pie counter

The Original Farmer’s Market, 6333 W. 3rd St., Fairfax. 

The restaurant in the Original Farmers Market has been crafting their legendary pies for decades on end.

29. Larry Edmunds Bookshop

6644 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. 

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A substantial stretch of Hollywood Boulevard used to be known as “Booksellers Row.” Of the 20-some shops that once drew the likes of Raymond Chandler and William Falukner, Larry Edmunds is the only one that remains; its specialty is movie books and memorabilia.

30. Little Nugget Train Car

5200 Zoo Dr., Los Angeles. 

The lavish first class car—you can see it at the Travel Town Museum in Griffith Park—embodies 1930s nostalgia for the 1890s.

31. King Eddy Saloon

131 E. 5th St., Downtown L.A. 

For decades on end, this Skid Row bar has been going strong.

32. Dunbar Hotel

4225 S. Central Ave., Historic South-Central. 

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Though it’s been converted into affordable housing for seniors, this hotel was once the heart of West Coast jazz. Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Joe Louis, and Thurgood Marshall all passed through its beautiful Art Deco atrium. You may not be able to go inside, but you can score a jazz tour of the neighborhood, if you know who to ask.

33. Club Fais Do-Do

5257 W. Adams Blvd., West Adams. 

This Cajun nightclub in an old Art Deco bank building boasts a spacious floor and plenty of jazz, blues, and more.

Continue on to the next page for the ’40s and ’50s.

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