July 18: Auburn Garrett Drive In Theatre, Garrett IN

It’s Day 199 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. I was back across the border again, but with a short drive. Less than an hour after I left the Capri Drive-In Theater in Coldwater MI. I was rolling up to the Auburn Garrett Drive In Theatre, just north of Garrett IN.

This drive-in opened in May 1951 as the Tri-Hi Drive-In, with parking for only around 150 cars. In 1959, it was renamed the Garrett Drive-In, then the Auburn Garrett Drive-In Theatre soon after. Around that time, they widened the original screen to accommodate wider movies and expanded the lot to around 300.

The Auburn Garrett added more parking was added in the late 1960s, bringing the capacity up to around 430. Its current, much larger screen was erected in the early 1970’s. Audio was originally provided by in-car speakers, but is now provided on FM radio.

The Fort Wayne Reader ran a story in 2006 about how the Auburn Garrett’s was dealing with the freshly implemented Daylight Saving Time in Indiana. “Last year’s 8 or 8:30 pm starting time usually let the drive-in fit both features and an intermission in before 1 am,” it wrote. “Now, the movie starts around 9:30. It has thrown off the concession side of the business, too, which is where most theaters make their profits.”

Still, owner Bruce Babbitt said things were better in 2006 than they were when he first bought the place in the 1980s. “I can remember when business was really crummy — we do more business now in a night than I used to do in a week in the 80s,” he said. “I’m just grateful for the business we’re getting and the customers who are still supporting us. They’re still driving through the gate.”

This was my fourth viewing of Spider-Man: Homecoming, which isn’t anything near the most I’ve done on this odyssey. With movies coming out quickly over the summer, I hope to see a wider variety soon.

Miles Today / Total:  48 / 25437 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: Spider-Man: Homecoming / 115

Nearby Restaurant: The closest restaurant to the Auburn Garrett is as seasonal as the drive-in. The Blue Moon offers fast food entrees, but what really matters is the ice cream. I mean, the chili dog was pretty good, but I don’t know where else I’ll find cherry ice cream that good.

Where I Virtually Stayed: There’s no place to stay in Garrett, so it’s only fitting that the closest hotels to the drive-in are in Auburn. Although there’s a Hampton Inn, always a safe choice, in Auburn, I saved some cash by staying at a very nice Quality Inn there. Fresh baked cookies are always a great start, and screened porches with rockers made the place even more welcoming. My room had all the amenities, and breakfast worked out great. This is a Quality Inn to seek out if you’re staying around here.

Only in Garrett Auburn: If you love vintage cars before your drive-in experience, little Auburn is packed with automobile museums. There’s the Early Ford V-8 Foundation Museum, the National Automotive and Truck Museum, and the topper next door, the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum housed in the old Duesenberg administration building.

Next stop: Starlight Drive-In, Maria Stein OH.

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