Drive-In Theaters are a Michigan Summer Treat
The drive-in movie is still alive in Michigan – and a ton of fun for kids and adults alike. It’s good to know a few tips to make the most of your time out, though, because there are some things that make a night out at the drive-in much different than your typical cinema.
We were sad to learn that this year Danny Boy’s in Ionia has closed, and there’s no word on whether or not they will reopen at a new location someday. That was a beloved Drive-In Movie in West Michigan. Thankfully, we have a couple others to choose from!
What to Expect at a Drive-In Movie
Fun at a drive-in starts well before the first credits roll. Depending on the theater, you’ll usually have different outdoor play options. Some people will get there as early as possible and eat a late dinner at the drive-in.
The Show Starts at Dark
Drive-in movies don’t start til after the sun goes down, so that means the start time of the movies will sync with sunset times. You’ll want to check the showtimes at your theater before you leave.
Two Movies for the Price of One
It’s typical for drive-in theaters to have double-headers. The trade-off for getting two movie tickets for the price of one is that the second movie can start very late (starting around midnight at times) so be sure to figure this into your plans.
What to Bring to a Drive-In
Your Vehicle and Seating Choice Matters
There are a few different ways you can situate yourself for movie viewing:
- Pull into a parking spot and watch from the front seat. Only those in the front will be able to see, though. It’s not the best option if you have kids along.
- Back into your spot if you have a truck, SUV, or van. Open the back hatch or make a bed in the truck bed and cozy up.
- If you don’t want to sit in a vehicle for the show, bring comfortable lawn chairs, pillows, and blankets to sit on.
Cool Parents Bring Glow Sticks
Completely optional, of course, but bringing glow sticks is a ton of fun for the littler kids. You might also consider bringing bubbles and other outdoor activities for before the show.
Plan for Cool Nights and Insects
Even the hottest days can have cool summer nights. Add to that a lakeshore location and you could be in for a chilly evening. Bring blankets, sleeping bags, jackets and other items to keep you warm.
Also, bring insect repellant. Bugs come out at night, even in places you’d be surprised to find them. Bring this along and you’ll have no trouble with the little pests.
Snacks are a Must
When it comes to food, drive-in theaters offer concessions AND allow you to bring in your own food as well. Bring a pizza if you want to! But check the rules of your specific drive-in before heading out.
Jumper Cables are Handy
Most people will listen to the show’s audio by tuning their car’s radio station to the theater’s channel. Do this for long and you may find your car battery dead. This is really common and people are usually ready to give your car a jump-start, but it can help the process to have a set of jumper cables in your trunk (hey, maybe you could help someone else in need!). The theaters are typically ready to help out with jumping a car if needed.
Three West Michigan Drive-In Theaters to Choose From
Cherry Bowl Drive-In | Honor, MI (Benzie County)
This historic landmark has been an “Up North” Tradition dating back to the ’50’s.
In addition to showing movies on a big screen, Cherry Bowl also offers 50’s style mini-golf and has a wonderful playground.
Muskegon Getty Drive-In | Muskegon, MI
The Getty Drive-In has been around since 1948 and today is owned by the same people that own Celebration Cinemas. This theater boasts FOUR giant outdoor screens. You’ll find concessions and a kids’ play area here, too.
Image courtesy of local mom and blogger Sheila Johnson from Eat2Gather.
Capri Drive-In Theater | Coldwater, MI
Since the summer of ’64, the Capri Drive-In Theater has been a fun, safe, clean and memorable family destination. This theater has 2 screens, a full snack bar and affordable prices.
Have you been to a drive-in movie recently? Where did you go? Any tips to share?