What Were Some Leisure Activities of the 1920s?

In the 1920s, traditional leisure activities like sports, books, travel and board games were still widely enjoyed. New technology popularized more commercial forms of entertainment, such as radio or motion pictures.

The 1920s are remembered as the “Jazz Age,” when Prohibition was in effect and flappers wearing short skirts danced in speakeasies. Both adults and children had more free time due to reduced work hours, better pay and a reduction in child labor. Many spent evenings listening to news and entertaining programs on the radio. Families spent money on garden supplies, newspapers, concerts and sports equipment. Children played with magic lanterns, gyroscopes and Tinker Toys.

Movies were very popular with people in every class. Many neighborhoods had an elaborately decorated movie house. Stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and Lon Chaney were in demand. Movie studios experimented with synchronized music, adding more elaborate story lines and cinematography. The first talkie arrived in theaters by the end of the decade.

Many activities centered around the automobile industry, which grew quickly as cars became less expensive and roads improved. New motels and service stations made recreational travel more convenient. The automobile allowed people to leave congested cities and enjoy camp grounds, parks and beaches. New government policies ensured that public land would be preserved for recreation.