On the arid highway halfway between Las Vegas and Southern California, Peggy Sue’s ’50s Diner emerges from the Mojave like a retro oasis. If you miss the giant jukebox door, you can’t ignore the looming roadside dinosaur sculptures.
Upon entering, diners are greeted by the hostess, a life-size statue of Betty Boop. Actual waitresses have copied Betty’s style, sporting vintage-style pink-and-teal uniforms that match the pink-and-powder-blue checked floors. Featuring a vintage-style ice cream counter, classic diner fare, and an abundance of ’50s-era pop culture paraphernalia, Peggy Sue’s is the Platonic ideal of American diners.
The building was originally a home, converted into a pie shop in 1954 using spare materials from the nearby Union Pacific Rail yard. Peggy Sue and her husband, Champ, whose romance was kindled when they played a romantic couple onstage, brought their theatrical sensibility when they reopened the diner in 1987. They used the film memorabilia they’d collected through their careers to turn the place into a palace of kitsch. Today, tchotchkes, including a rhinestone cheeseburger and every imaginable manifestation of Marilyn Monroe, adorn themed rooms.
While the interior is fun, the best part of Peggy Sue’s may just be out back. After eating, visitors can wander through the punny Diner-Saur Park, a garden inhabited by four 10-foot tall metal dinosaurs (and one big King Kong) rising from pedestal-like hills. The lone human statue features a man immortalized while attempting to escape an angry stegosaurus by climbing over a turtle pond, which is filled with actual turtles.
Know Before You Go
Sojourners can make a nostalgic day of it by stopping first at the equally kitschy nearby Calico Ghost Town.