It wouldn’t be a true L.A. summer without a of couple trips to the Inland Empire to catch a few flicks at the drive-ins. While a ticket at the Landmark will run you about $15 a movie, you can usually snag an outdoor film for just $10 for a double feature, all without having to leave your car. For the best drive-in movie experience, bribe the friend with a truck (or SUV if your friends are truck-less) and load up on pillows, blankets and a battery-operated radio (if they even still make them) to ensure that you don’t kill your friend’s battery.
The good thing about driving your own car onto the lot is that it is relatively easy to smuggle in whatever kind of contraband your little heart desires – this is not to say that we are endorsing this kind of behavior, but merely just stating the facts. So, whether it be a plethora of theater-approved snacks (Raisinets, anyone?), a pack of Corona (after all, it’s summer and you’re only human) or your Chihuahua-sized, non-barking furry friend, it might be a good opportunity to rebel a little.
If you’re heading out with a large group, make sure that everyone brings plenty of cash – neither the ticket booth nor snack bars will accept cards, and having to run down the street to pull money out of a 7-11 ATM might mean re-waiting in line and missing part of the first feature.
That’s another thing – always make sure to arrive at least 45 minutes prior to the first screening (most theaters open gates 60-90 minutes before the first film, but check online for times), especially on weekends, or you will most likely get stuck in the far back behind that obnoxious lifted truck that refuses to turn off its headlights.
Whether you’re planning a cute date or a fun summer outing with friends, we definitely recommend checking out these tried-and-true L.A. drive-in hotspots. Although most of the locations are a little bit of a drive from L.A.’s city limits, they are definitely worth the road trip. Do a little research before your outdoor movie-viewing adventure, and make sure you come prepared with all the amenities. You’ll be guaranteed a fun and cheap Friday film night.
Electric Dusk Drive-In
1000 San Julian Street
Los Angeles 90015
Admission: $10 online, $13 @ the door
- Right in the heart of downtown L.A. (hipster spot)
- Pet friendly
- Patch of Astroturf right in front of the screen offers VIP seats if you don’t mind not sitting in your car
- Only plays one feature a night
- Features are usually older films (Summer 2013 films will include Office Space, E.T., The Princess Bride, etc.)
Vineland Drive-In Movie Theatre
443 N. Vineland Ave.
City of Industry 91746
Admission: $9 @ the door
-More than one showing a night
-Open seven days a week
- Theater sits right next to the Metrolink so noisy trains can interrupt the film
- Lots of people walking around during the feature, especially towards the back rows
Van Buren Drive-In Theatre
3035 Van Buren Blvd.
Admission: $7 @ the door
- Two movies for about half the price of one
- Cheap good-quality food at the snack stand and you can get coupons online (typical theater food: hotdog, burgers, churros, popcorn, candy, etc.)
-Open rain or shine
-Boom boxes allowed
- Gets crowded very early, especially on weekends
- People have complained that the restrooms are not well-kept
Mission Tiki Drive-In Theatre
10798 Ramona Ave.
Admission: $7 @ the door
- Cute gift shop next to the snack bar
- Clean, tiki-hut inspired facilities
- Radio quality and signal is exceptionally good
-Screens are dimly lit, so try to opt for a more colorful film over darker ones
-Not allowed to switch screens in between movies, so make sure you will be happy seeing both the movies playing during the double feature
Drive-In Theater Trivia!
Did You Know…?
• The first drive-in opened in the summer of 1933 and was known as simply the “Automobile Movie Theater.” The first film shown was the 1932 flick Wives Beware, and admission was 25 cents for each car and 25 cents for each person.
• Shortly after the launch a "Babysitter Protest" was held, where teenage girls marched in protest of the theaters, holding signs that read "Down with Drive-Ins, More Work for Babysitters.”
• At the peak drive-in theater popularity in 1958, there were between 4,000 and 5,000 drive-ins operating in the U.S., but today there are only 360.