California Bear

Summer Flicks: 3 Top Drive-In Movie Theaters 

During the 1950s and 1960s, drive-in movie theaters were all the rage. But, now nearly 91 years after the inception of the drive-in cinema in New Jersey, less than 20 remain in the Golden State. (The oldest operating drive-in in the country is Shankweiler’s in Pennsylvania.) But that doesn’t mean the novelty has worn off. From San Diego to Concord, here are three of the state’s best drive-ins to revel in nostalgia and enjoy a film under the stars. Just don’t forget to pack a blanket, lawn chairs, and your favorite movie snacks—or pick up some there.

South Bay Drive-In Theatre

Established in 1958 with a single, 100-foot screen, the now three-screen mainstay showcases classics and new releases seven days a week. Replete with a snack shack serving up soft pretzels, carne asada nachos, and of course, popcorn, the drive-in is also equipped with FM transmitters to stream sound through the comfort of your own individual car stereo. 

West Wind

The high-tech drive-in—outfitted with the latest Laser Extreme (LX) digital technology with vivid color, improved contrast, and massive outdoor screens—features locations in Concord, Sacramento, and San Jose. At the on-site concession stand, pick up traditional flick fare including chicken tenders, hot dogs, lemonade icees, personal pepperoni pizzas, and an assortment of candy from gummi bears to Reese’s peanut butter cups. 

Rubidoux Drive-In

Equipped with the original Art Deco-style screen tower from 1948 intended for old academy films, this timeless institution was the vision of cinematographer J. Roy Hunt. Originally built with a capacity of 690 cars and once offering a petting zoo and miniature railroad, the drive-in has undergone several evolutions and upgrades over the decades and now features a gourmet snack bar, three screens with FM transmitters, and Technalight digital projection. Don’t have a car stereo with FM stations? Just bring a portable radio.

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