Feb. 5: Santee Drive-In, Santee CA

Santee Drive-In marquee

photo by Kevin, from the Carload Flickr pool

It’s Day 36 of my virtual Drive-In-a-Day Odyssey. It took just over and hour and a half to drive from Riverside to the Santee Drive-In Theatre in Santee CA.

The Santee is set far back from the road, and as you can see in this CinemaTreasures photo, the marquee doesn’t look like much during the day. But it sure looks great after dark, as shown by the photo on the right here.

The concession stand was clean and straightforward. As long as there are corn dogs and popcorn, it feels like a real vintage drive-in concession stand, and the Santee has been around since 1958.

I had seen Rings the night before, so I chose the Santee’s other early movie, A Dog’s Purpose. This was my second straight Sunday night with that movie; I hope I get something different next Sunday.

Miles Today / Total:  104 / 4693 (rounded to the nearest mile)

Movie Showing / Total Active Nights: A Dog’s Purpose / 26

Nearby Restaurant: Looking for some comfort food that happened to be within a mile of the drive-in, I stumbled onto The Omelette Factory. It actually has some decent low-calorie plates for lunch, but that’s probably not the reason to visit. I got here in time for the Southern Breakfast platter, and I wasn’t hungry again till that evening.

Where I Virtually Stayed: Although there are quite a few hotels in Santee and neighboring El Cajon, I couldn’t find any to get excited about. That’s why I just picked the closest place, the Best Western Santee Lodge. It was close, which I really appreciate driving back in an unfamiliar city after a drive-in has taken me to another reality for two hours. And it had a fridge and a microwave and free breakfast, so it worked out okay.

Only in Santee: In nearby Lemon Grove, there sits the World’s Biggest Lemon. Weighing some 3000 pounds, and approximately 10 feet long and six feet wide, the lemon sculpture lies before a small lemon grove beside the local trolley tracks. Designed by Lemon Grove architect Alberto Treganza, the lemon was originally built as a parade float for the 1928 Fourth of July Fiesta de San Diego parade, carrying the town’s first Miss Lemon Grove. In 1930, the float was plastered to create a permanent sculpture and displayed near its current location. (It shifted a few feet in 1988 to make room for those trolley tracks.)

Next Stop: South Bay Drive-In Theatres, San Diego CA.