Nothing says summer quite like an outdoor movie. Ever since the first drive-in movie theatre opened in New Jersey in 1933, movies under the stars have been a summer rite of passage. And thanks to our car culture, Southern California is host to some of the most iconic drive-ins movie theaters in the country, with design themes ranging from Route 66 to Tiki kitsch and 50s cool.
Today, outdoor movies are bigger than ever, with parks, rooftops, and even a cemetery popping up state-of-the art screens and sound systems, many just short distance from Circa. Bring a blanket and feast from food trucks and concession stands, or pack your own picnic. Check websites for schedules and other details.
Rooftop Cinema Club DTLA 4th floor at Level 888 S Olive St, Los Angeles, CA 90014
Thanks to a new projector at Rooftop Cinema Club DTLA, they are now able to screen the newest releases at this venue, including some films still in theaters. Once you book your screening, arrive early to take in the views and play table games with the city as your backdrop. Select your seats, grab a drink and snack on classic cinema concessions. When the movie starts, you’ll be able to live completely in those movie moments with state-of-the-art wireless headphones and an amazing view of the big screen.
Rooftop Cinema Club Arts District ROW DTLA 777 S Alameda St. Los Angeles, CA 90021
Enjoy the ultimate open-air cinema experience in the heart of DTLA’s Arts District. With skyline views from a 5th floor terrace at ROW DTLA, this is the perfect place for cinema with a cityscape. Doors open 30 minutes before the screening, allowing plenty of time to grab your headphones, select a seat and enjoy the Rooftop experience. Classic cinema concessions are available at the venue with contactless order and pick-up. As you know, a Rooftop isn’t really a Rooftop without a cool, refreshing breeze! That being said, you are highly encouraged to BYOB – Bring Your Own Blanket. You’ll thank us later.
Cinespia Hollywood Forever Cemetery 6000 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90038
Movie screenings are held outdoors on Fairbanks Lawn, an open grassy field inside Hollywood Forever Cemetery, under the stars. A DJ will be spinning music as the sun sets, and again after the movie. Bring blankets, pillows or low chairs that have a seat that rests on the ground with a low back. A small tarp underneath your blanket is recommended. Restrooms are available on-site. Outside beer and wine are permitted. Sorry – only ESA and service dogs on leashes are welcome at the screenings.
Streetfood Cinema Various Locations
Launched in 2012, Street Food Cinema screens at various locations around LA, including LA State Historic Park in DTLA. More than just an outdoor movie, it’s an experience bringing together the best in pop culture films, gourmet street food and progressive new music. Street Food Cinema reinvents the traditional movie going experience – al fresco style. Every element is carefully curated to develop a unique atmosphere that will make you want to come back again and again.
Movie Nights at Tropicana Pool Hollywood Roosevelt 7000 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028
The iconic Hockney hand-painted pool under the neon sign at the Hollywood Roosevelt provides a unique screening experience. You become immersed in this “Dive-in” movie atmosphere when you purchase your spot at the Tropicana Pool, famed for their iconic Movie Nights. Food and beverage are available to order at the bar to be delivered to your table. Advanced ticket purchase required, with all sales final 8 hours prior to showtime.
Mission Tiki Drive-In Theatre 10798 Ramona Ave.Montclair, CA 91763
For those of you who like your movies with a side of kitsch, Mission Tiki Drive-In in Montclair is just the ticket. The audio for the movies is broadcast through an FM transmitter (radio), so make sure you have a good sound system in your vehicle. Not to worry, if you don’t have an FM transmitter in your car you can bring a battery-operated stereo with speakers to hear the movies. They have a snack bar full of goodies like popcorn, candy and carne asada nachos, but you are also welcome to bring your own snacks.
Rubidoux Drive-In 3770 Opal St. Riverside, CA 92509
The Rubidoux, with its original 1948 screen tower still standing tall, is the last of the classic drive-in theatres remaining in Southern California. Though it retains much of its original character, time has transformed this gem into a thoroughly modern outdoor theatre. The incorporation of FM transmitters and Technalight digital projection ensures the best possible picture and sound available. The box office and snack bar have gotten a new treatment as well, and are now reminiscent of the theatre’s original postwar Route 66 heritage.
Van Buren Drive-In Theatre 3035 Van Buren Blvd. Riverside, CA 92503
Built on the site of a former orange ranch and named for its location on Van Buren Blvd. in the historic Arlington district of Riverside, the Van Buren Drive-in Theatre opened in 1964 with a single screen. Today, the theatre has been completely renovated, featuring the latest drive-in theatre technology including FM transmitters, Technalight, and a state-of-the-art projection system. The most striking element of this restoration is the art mural displayed on the original screen tower depicting a vista of 1930s era Riverside, reminiscent of vintage orange crate labels so prized by collectors today.
Vineland Drive-in 443 Vineland Ave. City of Industry, CA 91746
A real Southern California icon, the Vineland Drive-In opened in 1955 with James Mason in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and in 1981, it expanded to become a 4-screen theatre with a car capacity of 1,700. In order to listen to your movie, an FM radio is needed. (Car radio or portable radio). A full concession stand is available with all your favorite movie snacks including pizza, hot dogs, nachos, burgers, and popcorn.
Photo #1: Rooftop Cinema Club
Photo #2: Cinespia
Photo #3: Rooftop Cinema Club
Photo #4: Rooftop Cinema Club
Photo #5: Cinespia
Photo #6: Streetfood Cinema
Photo #7: The Hollywood Roosevelt
Photo #8: Mission Tiki Drive-In Theatre
Photo #9: Rubidoux Drive-In
Photo #10: Van Buren Drive-In Theatre / Inland Empire dot com
Photo #11: Vineland Drive-in / Cinema Treasures