Originally part of a collection of vaudeville theaters, this Art Deco landmark opened in 1930 and became a full-time movie theater throughout the Depression and World War II. Purchased by Howard Hughes in 1949 to be used as both his RKO Pictures office and a movie house, it was also the home of the Academy Awards show until 1959.
Since 1977, the Pantages has been an enormously popular venue for splashy productions of Broadway musicals and various other live performances. Recent stage successes have been The Lion King, Wicked and The Book of Mormon, as well as the comedy of Kathy Griffin, actor William Shatner's one-man show, and the musical stylings of accordionist and singer Weird Al Yankovic.
A half-block from the famous corner of Hollywood and Vine, the Pantages is at the heart of the Hollywood Entertainment District's rejuvenation, and in 2000 the theater itself underwent a $10-million restoration. It's now surrounded by a large array of pre- and post-theater options: the swanky bars at the W Hollywood; Cleo at the Redbury Hotel; Katsuya, part of an upscale local sushi chain; and Beso, a hip, romantic Latino bar/restaurant owned by actress Eva Longoria.
The gated outdoor parking lots around the Pantages tend to run at least $10, but you can choose to go carless as the theater sits directly across the street from the Metro Red Line's stop for Hollywood and Vine.