December 2, 2023

Maybe you feel like you were born in the wrong generation, or maybe your back goes out more than you do now, but you want to revisit your glory days — what better way to do that than through a journey of Northern Virginia businesses? These restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues are making what’s old new again. Whether you want to watch, play, shop, or eat, these retro spots across NoVA have you covered as you discover some new-to-you, old-school activities or revisit your childhood favorites.

Sights for Sore Eyes

Watch planes and automobiles (sorry, no trains) cruise and catch your favorite ’80s flick to reminisce at these venues, with outdoor space perfect to spend a summer day — or night.

Sumerduck Dragway

It’s like you’re viewing Danny Zuko take on Leo on Thunder Road as you watch the races at Sumerduck Dragway, a premier spot for drag racing in Northern Virginia. A nostalgia race is coming this month on July 23, so watch as classic cars burn rubber to go as fast as they can. This 1/8th mile track, referred to as The Duck, is located in Fauquier County and has been in business as a drag strip for decades; Richard Loving, of Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court case that made bans on interracial marriages illegal, used to race at the Sumerduck track in the ’60s. 14027 Royalls Mill Rd., Sumerduck

The Flying Circus Airshow

The Flying Circus Airshow is like something out of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and the airshow has been around for nearly as long as the 1968 film: Their (out)doors have been open since 1971. You’ll think you’re witnessing magic in real time as you watch the professionals fly in the air performing their tricks. Catch a show every Sunday in July, and check the website for special summer and fall events. Their Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival is coming to Bealeton on August 20–21, so be sure to get your tickets and arrive early to see various balloons lifting into the air along with the circus’ typical airshows. Ride in a hot air balloon yourself, or see ballooning from a new perspective — an open cockpit biplane. 5114 Ritchie Rd., Bealeton

Goochland Drive-In Theater

There are fewer than 400 drive-in movie theaters operating in the U.S. today, compared to over 5,000 sites in the late 1950s and early ’60s. Luckily, Goochland is solving that problem for Northern Virginians who want to see a film on the big screen from the comfort of their own leather seats. Grab your tickets in advance and arrive early to park your car in a prime spot, and enjoy the latest flicks along with beloved ’80s blockbusters, like Raiders of the Lost Ark. Around Halloween, catch a new spooky thriller and your favorite horror films, like Nightmare on Elm Street. 4344 Old Fredericksburg Rd., Hadensville

Do’s and Don’ts, But They’re All Do’s

Whether you have a day off to fill with as many activities as Ferris Bueller or are looking to spend a low-key weekend with family, you can relive nights out gaming and skating (and perhaps partying) across the region.

reclaim arcade
Photo courtesy Reclaim Arcade

Reclaim Arcade

If you’ve been wishing you could pull a Marty McFly and travel back in time, the games at this retro-modern venue will have you feeling like you’ve just stepped out of the DeLorean with Doc. Merging popular vintage arcade games and pinball of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s with a modern atmosphere complete with food and private party options, this spot can bring you classic arcade games like Space Invaders and pinball machines featuring iconic pop culture, like Ghostbusters. Enter through Reclaim Video to grab your arcade passes and merch. 2324 Plank Rd., Fredericksburg

Skate N’ Fun Zone

Social and political counterculture might have been the lasting legacy of the ’70s, but not to be remiss is the roller rink. Feel groovy in this Manassas business, which is bringing the Disco Inferno to you with their strobing neon lights — you just have to wear the bell bottoms and tie-dye. Adult skating sessions are available every Thursday, or bring the kids and grandkids to a family skate. And if you haven’t skated in a couple decades, Skate N’ Fun Zone will have instructions for how to best roll on their rotunda floor. 7878 Sudley Rd., Manassas

Continental Pool Lounge and Beer Garden

The retro decor of this Rosslyn spot, with upholstered orange stools and bright-green, muraled walls will have you feeling like you’ve stepped onto the set of That ’70s Show. The games also complement the old-school style, with pool (billiards if you’re fancy), shuffleboard, pingpong, and darts. Whether you’re there for the happy hour or the pool league, indulge in pigs in a blanket and other appetizers. Their spaces for private events will also have you feeling funky, from the purple room with its comfortable mod seating and lounge area, to the green room with its ’60s sofa and cocktail tables. 1911 Fort Myer Dr., Arlington

couple looking at vintage blue car
Photo courtesy The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

MSV Antique & Modified Car Show

The Museum of Shenandoah Valley (MSV) is teaming up with the Shenandoah region of the Antique Automobile Club of America on July 16 at 10 a.m. in Winchester. Celebrate summer as classic cars are on display — all for free on the museum’s lawn. An admissions fee is required to participate in MSV’s other activities, like strolling the Glen Burnie Gardens and the galleries. Within the gardens is MSV’s Origami in the Garden exhibition, which runs through November. Walk through the installation of 11 larger-than-life displays of sculpture after you explore the intricacies of the antique and retro cars, from an Oldsmobile to an El Camino — and maybe even a 1991 MINI Cooper, something showcased at last year’s celebration. 901 Amherst St., Winchester

You Can’t Buy Me Love, But You Can Buy Me Things

These shops around Northern Virginia will have you pulling an ABBA and spending your Money, Money, Money in no time thanks to their rare finds.

Nostalgia Boutique

Whether you want to find a tasteful, elegant vintage dress or don a ’60s floor-length fur-lined coat, Nostalgia has you covered. Look like Elizabeth Taylor when you wear one of their pieces, from the dresses to the shoes. Thanks to the slower approach to fashion in vintage clothing, the items hand-picked by owner Silas help comprise an eclectic selection of midcentury frills and thrills. There’s even furniture to satisfy your nostalgia for a different era. The items are also reasonably priced, so you won’t feel like you’re breaking the bank as you purchase your vintage clothing and antique decor — but since the boutique is a consignment shop, you’ll want to check out the shop every so often to see what finds are coming through. 142 E Main St., Purcellville

the hour exterior
Photo courtesy The Hour

The Hour

Named after Bernard DeVoto’s mid-20th century cocktail manifesto, The Hour hopes to emphasize the importance of cocktail presentation with its collection of bar and glassware from antique markets, estate sales, and auctions. The books filled with cocktail recipes are some of the only things under $50 at this establishment, which brings all the class imaginable to their trays, shakers, and glasses. Since The Hour curates essentially mint condition items, you’ll feel like you bought an item brand new from its respective era. The chic barware and tools are perfect for ’50s-style home entertaining. 1015 King St., Alexandria

A to Z Typewriter Company

Whether you’ve kept your electronic Royal Tab-o-Matic for decades or are looking for something even older, A to Z Typewriting Co. restores, refurbishes, and sells typewriters of all shapes, sizes, and eras. You may be used to a Macbook now, but why not revisit the tool you learned to type on? These vintage and antique finds aren’t just fit for Tom Hanks; there’s something to be found for all typewriter lovers here. To preserve the original integrity of the typewriter, A to Z isn’t making extra cosmetic changes in their repairs and reconditions, ensuring that what makes typewriters such an iconic figure of the past remains. 9541 Bel Glade St., Fairfax

Reclaim Video

If you long for the days of big blockbuster films and wholesome family sitcoms, this spot has the entertainment for you. Reclaim Video is connected to Reclaim Arcade, which will help you catch up with your favorite vintage games. After picking up a tape from the ’80s or ’90s, enter the Console Living Room, a recreation of an exhibit at the University of Mary Washington. Featuring technology and media from the mid-1980s situated in a simulated living room setting, the space allows you to watch classic ’80s shows, play Atari 2600, pop in a VHS tape, and listen to some oldies music. 2320 Plank Rd., Fredericksburg

Eat Your Heart Out

Don a poodle skirt while you sip on a milkshake or pull out your best candy-striped outfit. The fun flavors and delightful decor of these destinations will have you feeling young and nostalgic.

Rocket Fizz

In Alexandria, this candy shop is the premier place for fun and nostalgic candy, soda pop, and gag gifts. With a curated collection of vintage posters, this store will delight your inner child. Rocket Fizz offers a wide variety of candies, from the ones of your youth to rare flavors of your newer favorites, like peppermint saltwater taffy and the latest variation of the Kit-Kat. You might even pick up a basket curated and filled with their products, perfect for a gift at the office or to your next house party host. If you want to find a unique root beer or cream soda, or are looking to bite into a gummy hamburger, this is the place to be — your sweet tooth and inner child will thank you. 1721 Centre Plz., Alexandria

juke box diner
Photo courtesy Juke Box Diner

Juke Box Diner

Step back into the days of the diner with this old-school spot, which serves all-day breakfast and your choice of rock n’ roll tunes to pair. Booths are lined with red leather, and retro Coca-Cola decor fills the tile walls — the Manassas location even has a hot rod suspended from the ceiling. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in the past with the food, too, thanks to the breakfast and sandwiches, from the turkey bacon melt to the original Reuben. Juke Box has succeeded in emulating the eateries of the ’50s, so be sure to try their one-of-a-kind milkshakes as you sit upon a stool at the central countertop. 7039 Columbia Pike, Annandale; 8637 Sudley Rd., Manassas

Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream Co.

This Old Town Alexandria business is really bringing old fashioned to the 21st century with their creamy creations. The shop evokes a vintage 1940s feel — which is fitting, given that its namesake used to serve ice cream to former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Ray “Pop” Giovanni left behind his little black book of ice cream and dessert recipes in 1998, and Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream continues his legacy of unique flavors and specialty sundaes, like the Old Town Truffle, complete with pralines and cream ice cream, chocolate sauce, pecan pie chunks, caramel, and whipped cream. 109 King St., Alexandria

This story originally ran in our July issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to our monthly magazine.


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