LA Weekly Shows How, Where To Enjoy SoCal Drive-Ins

Happy National Drive-In Movie Day, as we celebrate the anniversary of Richard Hollingshead’s 1933 opening day! In an article in today’s edition of LA Weekly, April Wolfe provides one of the better primers for rookie drive-in patrons. In the process, she also adds a bit of history as she points out some of the drive-ins that aren’t that far away from the Los Angeles area.

Start by planning to arrive an hour before the first feature. “Pack as if you’re going to a picnic in the park.” That includes bringing “folding lawn chairs; a blanket; a battery-powered boombox with FM radio; and” (drive-in owners, skip to the next paragraph) “a picnic basket filled with La Croix, hummus, pitas, olives, multiple cheeses, fruit and baguette.” Wolfe also definitely advises buying food and drinks from the concession stand, but I know some readers are triggered by the mention of outside food.

Wolfe clearly knows from experience. “You’ll want to find a spot about four rows back from the screen and dead center,” she writes. Douse your interior lights before trying anything tricky, and check that they stayed dark before you annoy others during a movie. If the concession stand serves flea market food during the day, ask whether any of those entrees are available for purchase.

Then she ticks through the available drive-ins, starting with her primary example, the Mission Tiki Drive-in Theatre in Montclair. Other drive-ins with notes include:

Skyline Drive-in Theater, Barstow. “The Skyline gets a fair amount of wind, which interrupts screenings, so check the weather before heading out.”

Smith’s Ranch Drive-In Theater, Twentynine Palms. “This drive-in has a history dating back to the 1920s.” (You need to read the whole thing.)

Rubidoux Drive-In Theatre and Van Buren Drive-In Theatre, Riverside. “Rubidoux opened in 1948 to entertain postwar suburbanites, and Van Buren opened in 1964 on what was once a sprawling orange grove.”

Santa Barbara Drive-In, Goleta. “(S)o close to the coast that you can feel and smell that beach air blowing through your car windows.”

I don’t know why the author left out the Paramount Drive-In Theatres or the Vineland Drive-In, both in the LA region, but at a time of year when my eyes glaze at yet another local paper’s article noticing that the local drive-in is open again, this LA Weekly article is a breath of fresh beach air. You know you really need to go read it!