Remember the good ol’ days when a night out consisted of root beer floats, drive-in movies, and a game of bowling with your friends? Simpler times! But if you thought the classic decades were long gone in Idaho, think again. There are plenty of places in Idaho that have held on to the magic of the past without losing the fun and style of today.
The following are just 10 of the many retro places in Idaho that will make you feel as if you’ve traveled back in time to the eras of Marty McFly, Elvis, and Marilyn Monroe, all while giving you some awesome, vintage alternatives to the Friday-night blues.
1. Dixie's Diner, Idaho Falls
This classic, 50's-styled diner makes for a nifty stop on your way though Eastern Idaho. Tableside jukeboxes, retro silver and red decor, and classic milkshakes and malts all add up to a fun, funky diner vibe experience.
2. The Spud Drive-In Theater, Driggs
Once a favorite summertime outing, drive-ins today are a fading American icon. Fortunately, Idaho has a number of them still dotting the state, including Spud's, which has become a favorite stopping point for Yellowstone and Idaho visitors alike. The giant outdoor screen rises from the middle of Idaho's sprawling rural countryside and offers double-feature movies throughout the spring and summer months. A throwback concession stand and landmark giant potato on a flatbed truck also combine to make this theater a nostalgic must-see.
3. Goody's Soda Fountain and Candy Store, Hyde Park
For a walk down candy memory lane, Boise's historic Hyde Park is home to a converted bungalow that has been serving up homemade sweets, chocolates, and ice cream for decades, all dished up right alongside an old fashioned soda fountain.
4. Grinkers Grand Palace, Eagle
Before the days when young gamers flung angry birds at snorting, green pigs, most of us likely spent hours creating fond memories playing Street Fighter, Pac-Man, or pinball. If you ever wish you could go back to that bygone era of simpler entertainment, Grinkers is the place for you! At only 25 cents per game, and with over 100 games spanning the giant open arcade floor, this retro '80s gem is an easy drive just outside the capital. Grinkers also boasts regular all-ages tournaments, and even pool for the adult crowd - not to mention the epic food specials. Plus, it's family-friendly. So grab a roll of quarters and get ready to blow up some Asteroids.
5. The Rollerdrome, Nampa
Beneath a retro mirrored ball that spins lazily above an original hardwood floor that dates back to 1948, skaters of every age and skill level can have a classic skating experience. The Rollerdrome complete with couples' skates, limbo, and old-school music. As one of the Treasure Valley's original skating rinks and now the last of its kind in the area, the Rollerdrome is a vintage gem that beats an overpriced theater any day.
6. Owyhee Lanes Restaurant and Bowling Alley, Homedale
For a classic game of bowling without all of the modern tech, the cozy, old-time vibe of Owyhee Lanes will make your night a memorable one. Real wood floors, vintage ball returns, and an attached restaurant that serves what is quite possibly the best pie in the entire state all add up to a bowling experience from decades of yesteryear.
7. Spacebar, Boise
Catering to a more adult crowd and boasting over 20 classic arcade games, like Tron, Frogger and Mario Bros, you'll be knocking down high scores as you knock back brewskis at the Spacebar in Boise. But as if retro joystick gaming weren't enough, Spacebar also caters to the video game nostalgic. They've got console setups, comic books, board games, live DJs, and bands from across the country - and of course prized tournaments. If you haven't been here yet, shame on you.
8. The Star Theater, Weiser
The Star Theater in small town Weiser is one of Idaho's earliest theaters that has remained in continuous use for its original purpose. Originally used as a small forum for traveling drama troupes, the Star (then the Wheaton) was later transformed into a silent theater, eventually offering matinees and popcorn. Today, the Star houses the
Illustrious Onionskin Players
for seasonal performances in a fantastic throwback setting to theaters of yore, complete with immense tapestries and art deco matinee.
9. Shorty's Diner, Hailey
An unassuming brick exterior in Hailey hides a quaint, throwback dining atmosphere on the inside, complete with vintage car parts, Elvis memorabilia, classic decor, and tabletop jukeboxes. Here, in a crisp black-and-white tiled setting, visitors get served up traditional '60s diner fare -- Shorty's breakfasts are particularly beloved by locals -- as well as old-school malts. While the diner is no longer owned by celebrity Bruce Willis, you never know who you might run into while you're eating!
10. Frontier Ice Arena, Coeur d'Alene
There's nothing more enjoyable and romantic than an evening spent layered up in cozy leg warmers and mittens, ice skating with friends or a loved one. Idaho is lucky to have a fantastic selection of both indoor and outdoor rinks, but Coeur d'Alene's newly completed Frontier Ice Arena is the latest Northern Idaho classic that will take you down winter memory lane.
So much nostalgia! Have you visited any of these establishments yourself? What other retro places are there in Idaho that make you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time? Share your experiences and photos with us in the comments below!