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Say the words Drive-In Theater and images from another era flood the mind. The reality is less romantic and more nostalgic, as drive-ins have mostly disappeared in Northern California. There are still a precious few in the Bay Area, though more digital and family friendly this time around. Check out these Bay Area drive-in theaters while you still can.
1611 Solano Way
Concord, CA 94520
If you are looking for a way to make movie going an exciting yet reasonably priced event, then come over to the drive-in in Concord, and bring the family too. Tuesday is Family Night at West Wind Drive-Ins with tickets at $5 for adults, $1 for kids ages five to 11 and kids under five are free. There is a playground for the kids, with live music, face painting a petting zoo, and food deals for a buck, plus the car-parking area is tilted, so everyone can see. All movies are double features, except during grand premieres or special events, so you get twice the bang for your hard-earned buck. Since you will be viewing the movie from your car, be sure your windshield is clean and clear. Audio is through the car FM stereo, though particularly for older cars a dead battery may result, so a battery-driven boom box is advised. If a car battery dies, a drive-in staff member will assist with jumper cables to get you moving. A big plus is that you can bring in all of the cooked or take-out food, snacks, non-alcoholic beverages and blankets you want, as getting comfy in your car is what drive-ins are all about. Credit cards are accepted and it is open rain or shine.
3630 Hillcap Ave.
San Jose, CA 95136
This drive-in gets terrific reviews from folks who come for family night, date night or just hanging out with the friends. For the $7.50 admission, you can watch two movies and bring in as much cooked or take-out food, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages as you’d like. Tuesday is Family Night and a real treat for the kids, with bouncy houses set up near the concession area, plus free face painting and even a few cute animals to pet or take a short pony ride. Admission is just $1 per child, and kids younger than five are free, so what are you waiting for? Also available to buy are candy, popcorn and snacks, plus pizza, Mexican food and the like. Coming here is definitely a different experience from watching a movie in a theater; you can laugh your head off, cry at the sad scenes and snuggle under the blankets you brought without strangers shushing you. Audio comes through your car FM stereo, or bring a boom box. You will need to turn your key to accessory to keep the stereo on, which isn’t a problem for newer vehicles. In the instance of a car battery dying, the theater offers a complimentary jump-start to get you on your way. Credit cards are accepted and it is open rain or shine.
9616 Oates Drive
Sacramento, CA 95827
The Sacramento drive-in is an especially busy location, so be warned, particularly during peak times such as Friday and Saturday nights, or events like Customer Appreciation when free entry is a big draw. Every Tuesday evening is Family Fun Night when entry is just $5 per person. Kids ages five to 11 are always just $1 and those under age five are free. The lines for everything can get “super duper long,” as one longtime movie goer here puts it, but the joy of going to a double feature – although few folks can actually last that long, especially with a car full of kids – hauling in all of the food, snacks, beverages and blankets your group wants, kicking back in the comfort of your car and laughing out loud and cuddling up under the blankets, all for a very reasonable price, is definitely worth the hassle. The concession area offers all of the usual suspects, plus pizza delivered to your car if you’d like. You can also bring chairs and a table for food if you plan to relax and watch outdoors. Just remember to get there early, as fans advise, to secure your car spot for the best viewing experience possible. Credit cards are accepted and it is open rain or shine.