-- In this era of cookie-cutter multiplexes, it's hard to believe that going to the movies was once a grand night out. But a handful of old-fashioned movie palaces help keep the glamour alive, says Karen Palmer, a senior editor with DailyCandy.com, a free newsletter with style, food and fashion tips. "These theaters have their own quirky elements and personalities that make them magical places to go sit for a few hours," she says. And now that fall weather makes it a perfect time to escape to a theater, she shares some favorites with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.
This 1,300-seat theater, designated both a state and national historic landmark, opened in 1922 and is now run by a foundation. The building has changed little over the years except for upgrades in technology. Patrons love the grand setting, and the bargain prices: $1.99 for second-run films. "It's a treat to see a movie for less than $2," Palmer says. 804-353-9911; byrdtheatre.com
Music Box Theatre
Moviegoers will feel as if they're sitting outside at this lavish theater, which opened in 1929. It's built to resemble an open-air palazzo, and the ceiling is painted with stars and clouds, Palmer says. The theater also hosts an annual 24-hour horror movie marathon called the "Music Box Massacre." 773-871-6604; musicboxtheatre.com
It's hard to find a more perfect setting than this Egyptian-deco-themed cinema on Hollywood Boulevard. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is right outside the front door, and the entrance is lined with palm trees. The theater was home to the first Hollywood premier, for Robin Hood, starring Douglas Fairbanks. "Going to this theater, you just feel like you're in the middle of Hollywood history," Palmer says. 323-466-3456; americancinemathequecalendar.com
Guests come to this 1947 theater for independent and foreign films — and a martini lounge. (Drinks are welcome in the theater). The theater also has a special screening lounge equipped with couches, loveseats and bean-bag chairs. "It's kind of like being in your living room, but having the benefit of a giant movie screen," Palmer says. 214-764-9106; landmarktheatres.com
It's always the swinging '60s at this mod-themed theater. Built in 1963, it still has a functioning Cinerama projector, which uses three projectors to produce a wide-screen image. It also displays famous movie costumes in the lobby, including some from the original Planet of the Apes. The theater, which was saved from demolition by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, sponsors special events like the Big Screen Festival starting today. It's showing famous widescreen films, starting with How the West was Won. 206-448-6680; cinerama.com
Traverse City, Mich.
This theater was destroyed twice by fire before being rebuilt in 1949 with an astronomically correct starry ceiling that replicates an August night in Michigan. The theater is now operated by the Traverse City Film Festival and volunteers. On Monday and Wednesday nights, admission is 25 cents, and Tuesday includes free popcorn with any movie. 231-947-4800; statetheatretc.org
The Castro Theatre
When Palmer lived in the Bay Area, this was her favorite place to see movies. "It's just absolutely gorgeous," she says. The 1922 theater hosts film festivals and sing-along nights with movies like The Little Mermaid and Soundof Music. It also has an organ that is played before some showings. 415-621-6120; castrotheatre.com
The Brattle Theatre
Once a live-action theater, the Brattle became a movie house in 1953. Film-savvy Bostonians come for foreign and art-house films. Often the theater will focus on a specific director, offering a multi-night retrospective of works, or feature live conversations with actors. "It's a cool old spot to see a movie," Palmer says. 617-876-6837; brattlefilm.org
Located in the heart of the Little Havana neighborhood, this 1926 theater is now run by Miami-Dade College and features Spanish-language and English-language films with Spanish subtitles. It also hosts lectures and exhibitions. "It's still a gathering place for the community," Palmer says. 305-642-1264; mdc.edu/tower/
This classic Hollywood theater, run by Clearview Cinemas, is decked out with red carpets and gold furnishings. "It's very lush and very glamorous," Palmer says. The building, which opened in 1969, was named for the Broadway theater that had been torn down a few years earlier. It's now the largest single-screen theater in the city, making it a popular spot for premieres and first-run films. 212-307-1862; clearviewcinemas.com