Electric Paradise – The Los Angeles Neon Cruise

The Museum of Neon Art feels like a museum that was made for me. Not only does it restore, house, and exhibit some of the finest works of neon signage, it also offers the Neon Cruise, an incredibly unique tour of Los Angeles showcasing some of the city’s most fantastic neon signs.

As sun set, we sat atop one of those double decker tourist buses along with fellow neon enthusiasts gliding through downtown LA and into Hollywood gazing upon ghost signs, still functioning signs, restored signs, and even brand new neon signs, while getting the low down on the history of the city from one of my favorite people, J. Eric Lynxwiler. If his name sounds familiar, it’s because he penned the book on Knott’s Berry Farm, along with a book on neon that I’m currently reading.

A massive neon sign atop a brick building features a heart shape and text reading "Rosslyn Hotel"

Eric, wearing a shirt featuring neon signs, stands aboard the open air bus with a megaphone pointing out some of the signs.

A massive neon sign reads "Hotel Rosslyn 1100 New Million Dollar Rooms Fire Proof Popular Prices"

A clock tower rises from a stone art deco building. Instead of numbers on the face, text reads "Tower Theatre"

Two figures sit atop windows of a building. A topless female figure holds a hand mirror. A male figure sits near a camera and holds a megaphone.

The Tower Theatre, seen in the two images above, was built 1927, and was the first film theatre to be built wired for the talkies, and Los Angeles’ first air conditioned theatre. I love the figures that top some of the windows, which feature a female figure holding a mirror representing an actress, and a male figure with a camera and megaphone representing a director.

The nearby Commercial Exchange Building is an example of one of the many new neon signs being added to the city, as now businesses are encouraged to feature neon signs. Additionally, the Commercial Exchange Building sign is the tallest neon sign in Los Angeles.

A tall neon sign hangs from the corner of a brick building reading "Commercial Exchange Bldg." in blue neon.

A white marble building features a neon clock and white neon reading "The Times"

Blue neon text reading "Palace" is framed in yellow neon, hanging from a stone building.

A tall neon sign reading "Mayan" in yellow and green neon, edged in red.

The marquee for the Orpheum theatre, which reads "Orpheum" in yellow neon script, and lines of pink and green neon above.

Some of Los Angeles’ neon remains, even though what they once advertised is long gone, replaced by electronics, jewelry, or clothing stores. In some cases, the signs no longer light up at night, falling into decay and becoming victims of vandalism. However, there is the rare case where a sign has been fully restored, such as the old Rialto Theatre, which is now an Urban Outfitters.

A pink marquee features a blue flange sign reading "Cameo" and was once a cinema, now is an electronics store and features small signs advertising items.

The marquee for the former Roxie theatre. Broken plastic featuring starburst images is situated between two marquees reading "Roxie" in red text on either side.

The marquee for what was once the Rialto theatre, which is now an Urban Outfitters. "Rialto" in yellow neon sits with radiating sun images above and on the side.

Restoration continues on many levels in LA and Hollywood, including the Globe Theatre, which while scaffolded and wrapped, but its recently restored neon sign glowed as a beacon of what is to come.

The marquee for the Globe Theatre, with red neon reading "Globe" on either side of a large metal globe.

Neon began to fade out in the 1960s, as backlit plastic signs became easier and cheaper to create, and some signs remain that combine to two, such as the Holiday Lodge Motel.

A sign that combines neon and backlit plastic reads "Holiday Lodge Motel" in yellow letters. A starburst creation tops it with red neon stars.

While most of us think of neon boasting motels, theatres, and restaurants, there are a handful of religious neon signs, and several apartment buildings featuring massive neon.

An unlit neon sign with fading paint reads "Prayer changes things" with a cross above.

A neon heart made of red and yellow neon features text above reading "Holy Superet Light Church"

Green neon in gothic script reads "Gaylord"

But when it comes to LA and Hollywood, it is the theatres that had the most spectacular signs.

Large green neon letters spell out "Pantages" with stepping green neon above.

Yellow neon cascades down the front of a white building reading "The Palladium"

A Greek revival style building features a tall yellow neon sign reading "Los Angeles" and meets a marquee at the bottom also reading "Los Angeles" in yellow neon. The marquee is framed in red neon.

A marquee reads "Los Angeles" on both sides in yellow neon. Red neon frames the white marquee area.

I honestly can’t recommend the Neon Cruise enough. It combines the art that is neon with the history of such a unique city, while also giving you plenty of recommendations of theatres to visit and restaurants to try. As if my list of places to go wasn’t long enough already!

As for the museum itself, I also highly recommend visiting! We’ve been to the Museum of Neon Art twice, and I blogged about it back in 2016, but it’s a place that is always worth revisiting, as they are constantly changing their exhibits.

Become bewitched by neon within the Museum of Neon Art at 216 S. Brand Boulevard in Glendale, and visit their website for upcoming Neon Cruise dates.

Leave a Comment!

One comment on “Electric Paradise – The Los Angeles Neon Cruise”