In 2010, Long Beach set out to become America’s most bicycle-friendly city, touting its matrix of bike lanes and brightly colored “sharrows.” Along with reducing traffic and improving the air, the plan underscores the town’s indie vibe. Nowhere is that spirit clearer than on Retro Row, a stretch of 4th Street with offbeat stores that cater to a midcentury modern ideal. It’s a tight-knit neighborhood with plenty to explore, whether you’re walking on two feet or rolling on two wheels.
1. Hawleywood’s Barber Shop
A shave and a haircut cost more than two bits, but gents can get a proper “high and tight” at this 1940s throwback. After being groomed, relax with a hot towel and straight razor shave. » 2234 E. 4th St., 562-434-5405 or hawleywoods.com.
Carroll Park, with its Craftsman bungalows and narrow, curving streets, makes an excellent walking tour.
Don’t miss the sidewalk stencils urging citizens to carry their skateboards and pick up after their dogs.
Retro Row recently opened “parklets,” parking spots that have been converted into wood-plank patios for adjoining eateries.
2. Flea Espresso Bar
It’s not as well known as the area’s Portfolio Coffeehouse, but the micro café with a drip coffee setup straight out of Breaking Bad makes a superb cup of joe—often with beans from nearby Rose Park Roasters. » 2023 E. 4th St., 949-278-8508 or flea
Post-utilitarian and rustic chic, the (mostly) men’s haberdashery offers its own line of nautical-themed gear as well as tote bags, leather wallets, and other accessories from local designers like Fielder’s Choice Goods and small brands like Vancouver’s Herschel Supply Co. There’s some vintage stuff, too. » 402 St. Louis Ave., 562-434-7678 or portlbc.com.
4. Number Nine
On a strip with few restaurants, this modern Vietnamese spot stands out. The food isn’t the most adventurous, but calamari with spicy mayo, hefty bánh mì, and a nifty beer list are solid bets. » 2118 E. 4th St., 562-434-2009 or numberninenoodles.com.
Poodle skirts, leisure suits, sequined jackets, and ball gowns share space on overstuffed racks, but Kathleen Schaaf’s boutique is just right: ambitious and enticing without being overwhelming. » 2210 E. 4th St., 562-438-8990 or meowvintage.com.
Xcape and Déjà Vu showcase smart selections of high-end vintage furniture, but they’re downright compact compared with this emporium of Americana, where alcove after alcove reveals colorful retro treasures. » 2122 E. 4th St., 562-433-6600 or inretrospect.com.
7. Art du Vin
The cozy wine bar combines art deco style with the friendliness of a neighborhood pub. Sip an earthy Nebbiolo or a crisp Grüner Veltliner on the patio as patrons trickle in and out of the Art Theatre next door. Bring a receipt from a 4th Street business to receive a 10 percent discount. » 2025 E. 4th St., 562-987-3076 or artduvinwinebar.com.
8. Lil Devils Boutique
Browse here and your kids may look more stylish than you in their Run-DMC onesies, Nirvana T-shirts, and Bettie Page sailor dresses (they’re adorable, not sultry). Old-school toys like locomotive replicas and rubber band race cars abound. » 2218 E. 4th St., 562-439-0555 or lildevilsboutique.com.
9. Moxi Roller Skates
Whether you’re a serious skater or just looking to glide along the beach half a mile to the south, the store will keep you on track. Founded by a Roller Derby pro, it sells custom high-top skates in suede pastels or cheeky vegan animal prints. » 2132 E. 4th St., 888-599-6694 or moxirollerskates.com.
Why I Love It Here by Chris Reece, Owner, Pike Restaurant & Bar (1836 E. 4th St.,562-437-4453); former drummer, Social Distortion
I am 52. I’ve been an antiques dealer my whole life. My parents were hippies who bought and sold antiques in the 1950s and ’60s. My dad once sold a brass bed to Janis Joplin. Long Beach was full of antiques stores at the time. It still is. I started doing the Antique and Retro Shopper’s Map 15 years ago. The shops were always on the move, looking for cheap rent, so I would put out the map quarterly. I named that little area Retro Row. It was near my house, so I favored it. I noticed this Googie diner called Chipper’s Corner. The owner had died, and it was chained up. I ended up buying this little piece of 1950s architecture that I polished and turned into a restaurant that sells seafood.
Photographs by Mindee Choi. Illustration by Andy Friedman