Apr. 16: I-70 Drive-In, Kansas City MO

I-70 Drive-in marquee at night

photo by John, from the Carload Flickr pool

It’s Day 106 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I doubled back from the Boulevard Drive-In Theatre in Kansas City KS so I could watch a Sunday evening movie for the first time in four weeks. It only took 20 minutes to drive back to the Missouri side to the I-70 Drive-In in Kansas City MO.

Of the hundreds of active drive-ins in the United States, there are plenty that are named for US highways and even a few for state highways, but the I-70 is the only one named for an interstate highway. Some closed drive-ins had been named after interstates; just in Missouri there was another I-70 in St. Peters and the I-44 in Valley Park. Kansas City’s I-70 is the last of its kind.

The I-70 opened in July 1964 with a single screen, then split into four screens in the late 1980s. According to an article in the Kansas City Star, Darryl Smith bought the I-70 in 1999. When the digital projection changeover swept through in 2014, he sold it to B&B Theatres, along with the Twin in Independence.

Four screens mean four choices, and I hadn’t seen two of the early movies. One was the latest Smurfs installment, a phrase that I was a little sad to type just now, and the other was Ghost in the Shell, which makes a fine drive-in movie.

Miles Today / Total:  12 / 11447 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Ghost in the Shell / 51

Nearby Restaurant: Just across the border in Independence, Dixon’s Famous Chili is the closest excellent place to eat, but I couldn’t leave KC before getting some famous barbecue. Arthur Bryant’s BBQ is as legendary as barbecue gets. The wall of celebrities who have enjoyed this tradition help provide the mood, but the heaps of tender meat and singular sauce are the reason this place is truly famous.

Where I Virtually Stayed: It’s not in too many small towns, but the Drury Inn is one of the places I search out. The one across I-70 from Kauffman Stadium is just five minutes away from the drive-in. Happy hour every evening, a really solid breakfast buffet in the morning, and lots of little touches keep the Drurys among the top hotels in its class.

Only in Kansas City: Continuing the I-70 theme, the first section of any interstate was an eight-mile stretch that opened as I-70 just west of Topeka on November 14, 1956. (The last section of the originally planned interstate to be completed was also part of I-70, through Glenwood Canyon CO in 1992.)

Next stop: Mid-Way Drive-In Theatre, Paola KS.

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