The Teen Hot Spots of Yesterday


Cars, clothes and conversation change over the decades, but one fact remains the same: Teen-agers have always found the time to hang out together outside of school. Here’s a brief list of popular local hangouts, and--if they’re still standing--what they have become.

Happy Days in the 1950s

Hi-Way 39 Drive-In Theater: A place to show off your car or your date, it’s still operating in Westminster.

Oscar’s Drive-In Restaurants: The two hamburger joints in Santa Ana and Garden Grove had drive-up receivers used to place orders and car hops to deliver the burgers and fries fast. Oscar’s were convenient and a sure place to find your friends to discuss the latest haps.


The Pike: This Long Beach amusement park served teens for three decades. Besides being cheap, it had one of the best roller-coaster rides in Southern California. It was bulldozed in the mid-1970s as part of a downtown redevelopment project.

Skate Ranch: Opened in 1956 in Santa Ana, “The Ranch” is still in operation, though it’s not the teen stomping ground it once was, offering roller-skating, music and food in a county with few teen diversions.

Catching a Wave in the 1960s

Beaches: Since the surf craze took hold in the early ‘60s, Orange County’s beaches--particularly lifeguard stations and piers--have served as identification points for teens. The most popular spots have been Bolsa Chica (Tin-Can Beach), Huntington Beach in either direction from the pier, Huntington Beach Cliffs, Laguna’s Main Beach, Seal Beach (attracting teens from Cerritos and Downey) and The Wedge at Newport Beach.

Hobby City: At the height of slot car racing, Hobby City in Anaheim provided racing enthusiasts with plenty of tracks to play on. The craze and the crowds waned in the late ‘60s, but the shop is still operating.

Mission Drive-In: A popular hangout for South County teens, it opened in 1966 but met the wrecking ball in 1985 to make room for a shopping complex in San Juan Capistrano.

Prison of Socrates: As close as Orange County came to embracing the beat generation, this coffee house on Main Street in Newport Beach provided hip poetry, strong expresso and stand-up comedy. It’s now a pizza parlor.

Rendezvous Ballroom: A popular dance hall in Newport Beach that featured big bands in the ‘30s and ‘40s and later the surf sounds of Dick Dale and the Deltones, it burned down in the late ‘60s.

Retail’s Clerk Hall: Many teen dances were staged at this hall in Buena Park, which is now the United Food and Commercial Workers Hall.

Santa Ana Stadium: No matter who was playing on the field, local teens would gather to check out the opposite sex. It’s still there.

Westminster Skate Ranch: Though not as popular as The Skate Ranch in Santa Ana, this facility was considered its little brother and a great hang. It’s history.

Hippy Hangs in the 1960s and 1970s

Bird in Cage Book Shops: Radical teens gathered at the shops in Santa Ana and Newport Beach where an underground newspaper--named “Out of Sherwood Forest”--was distributed to local high schools. It was probably the only store in the county selling Mao’s “Little Red Book.” The Santa Ana store burned down in the early ‘70s.

Crystal Bag: A favorite shop in Fullerton to check out the latest drug paraphernalia, incense and ZAP Comic books. The building is now a Mercedes repair shop.

Golden Bear: This popular club in downtown Huntington Beach featured performers such as Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. Whether or not a teen had a ticket to get inside to see the show, it was a great place to watch the hippies. It was torn down in the mid-1980s, and a new theater has recently reopened on the spot.

Licorice Pizza: This record store chain was the place to hang in Costa Mesa. It moved to a new facility and became part of the Sam Goody chain.

Mystic Arts: A big, creepy head shop in Laguna Beach that showered patrons with incense, black light posters and the latest drug paraphernalia, it is now the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall.

Orange County Civic Auditorium: It wasn’t really an auditorium but an underground club for the local hippie scene in Orange. It closed in 1968 and the building is now part of an industrial complex.

Record Revolution: This hip record store in Fullerton constantly played T-REX instead of the Carpenters and offered a place for teens to listen to underground music. The building was destroyed in the early ‘70s to make room for an expansion on the Fullerton College campus.

Sound Spectrum: This record store/head shop in Laguna Beach was the only place a teen could buy British Imports albums. It’s still there.

Surf Shops: Two places in downtown Huntington Beach attracted most of the surfing teens: the Windnsea Surf Shop and Chuck Dent Surf Shop. Both are still operating.

Surf Theater: This theater in Huntington Beach offered the latest surf films, making it a perfect nighttime hangout for the local surfing crowd. It was torn down in 1989 to make room for downtown redevelopment.

Swingers Ink: This Anaheim head shop on Brookhurst is still operating, but the name has been changed to Swingers Psych Shop.

Taco Bell: Teen hippies gathered at the fast-food restaurant that’s still operating on Coast Highway in Laguna Beach.

White Room: Named after a song by the English band Cream, the White Room rocked Buena Park. The Chicago Transit Authority was the house band until it became too big for a small venue. The building still exists.

Punks, Others in 1970s, Early 1980s

Camelot Golfland: Still operating in Anaheim, this mini-amusement park offered teens a decade ago 18 holes of cheap miniature golf, go-carts and the still virgin video games like Pong and Tank. It’s still there.

Cuckcoo’s Nest: This club in Costa Mesa attracted a lot of punks from the beach areas. It was especially relevant to Huntington Beach punks, who congregated in the club’s parking lot. After it folded in the early 1980s, the club remained a musical venue but under different management. Today, it’s called Zubie’s Gilded Cage.

Galaxy Rolling Rink, Igabods and the Pub: These punk places in Fullerton brought Orange County’s teen punks face-to-face with their favorite bands like Social Distortion, The Vandals, The Adolescents and Agent Orange. The Galaxy Roller Rink is now a Kingdom of Jehovah’s Witnesses Hall, Igabods is a Burger King and The Pub is a Mexican bar.

Ice Capades Chalet: One of the few places a teen could go to ice skate in Orange County. This rink in Costa Mesa became even more popular with the advent of video games. It is still operating, attracting teens at midnight to play broomball--a slippery sport played with tennis shoes, a ball and household brooms.

Skate Zone: With kneepads and helmets in place, skateboard parks like this one in Laguna Hills were the place to hang out with your buds. But like slot car racing of the ‘60s, it quickly took a dive in popularity. The Skate Zone was bulldozed to make room for commercial development.

Malls and Beyond in 1980s and 1990s

Bogart’s: Though this Long Beach club is reserved for people 21 and over, teens armed with fake ID cards attempt to infiltrate to hear the live bands. It offers something few Orange County teens can find here--a nightclub.

Denny’s Restaurant: Simply because this place on Culver Drive in Irvine is open 24 hours a day, it is an oasis for local teens looking for action after curfew.

Diedrich Coffee & Espresso Bar: Maybe it’s a reaction to G-Man Dale Cooper of “Twin Peaks” and his affinity for a “damn fine cup of joe.” In any event, more teens are finding their way to coffee shops, like the two Diedrichs in Costa Mesa and Tustin.

Fun House: This floating nightclub in Old World in Huntington Beach has become a favorite spot for teens to dance and talk.

Fun Zone: This perennially popular teen hangout boomed in the mid-’80s when local punks roamed it to terrorize the natives. The Fun Zone is still operating in Newport Beach.

Safari Sam’s: A club in Huntington Beach that lured teens from around the county who wanted to hear alternative music, it was forced to close because of downtown expansion and pressure from the City Council.

Skate Depot: Remember break-dancing? This place in Anaheim offered it on roller-skates. It is now a Flakey Jakes.

South Coast Plaza: Malls are teen Mecca, but this mammoth is the shrine to teendom. Also attracting worshipers are Westminster Mall, MainPlace in Santa Ana, Fashion Island in Newport Beach, the Mall of Orange and Huntington Center.

Spatz Nightclub: Opened in 1984, the Huntington Harbour venue became a local favorite for beach punks who would flock to see the bands. It closed in 1986.