With a blinking neon sign, this National Historic Landmark has lit up Oakland’s Broadway since 1931, when it first opened as a grand movie palace. Glitteringly restored in the early 1970s, the Paramount Theatre impresses right away with its high-ceilinged lobby and idiosyncratic interior design that is neither entirely art deco nor moderne. Look up at the intricate ceiling panels and at sculptural relief panels on the main auditorium walls, which shimmer like gold.
Today the Paramount is home to the city’s ballet and symphony orchestra. It’s also the place to catch live concerts by touring musicians, stand-up comedians, and other big-name performers. Perhaps the best time to visit is during a screening of a classic Hollywood movie, anything from a Hitchcock thriller to a James Bond adventure.
Public tours of the theater are usually given on the first and third Saturdays of every month, starting at 10 a.m. No reservations are necessary for these two-hour historical tours, which cost $5 per person (no children under 10 years old allowed).
Tip: Buy your tickets in advance for more expensive shows, which may sell out.
Directions: It’s a 5-minute walk north on Broadway from Oakland’s 19th St. BART station. For more Transportation details see Oakland and Around (in the yellow bar).