Visit a Michigan Drive-In Movie Theater
If you’re feeling nostalgic, a trip to one the good, old-fashioned Michigan drive-in movie theaters may be exactly what you need.
Yes, drive-in movie theaters do still exist, and lucky for us, Michigan has enough of them for all of us to enjoy.
An added bonus?
Drive-in movie theaters are the perfect option for those wishing to social distance from others while still having a good time.
Michigan Drive-In Theaters
Drive-In theaters evoke a sense of nostalgia, they represent the glory days and the memories that come with it.
Expose your loved ones to one of the best movie experiences of all time and go to a drive-in theater where you can relive the past from the comfort of your own DeLorean time machine.
Read on to discover more about drive-ins in Michigan.
These types of theaters are best enjoyed around the nighttime when moviegoers can lay beneath the stars and watch a movie under their own terms. Guests can bring outside food, blankets, pillows, and any other decorations they may want to make their night extra special.
History of Drive-In Movie Theaters
Initially created as an alternative for people that are unable to sit in a movie theater’s chair, drive-in movie theaters became extremely successful following the end of WWII.
The lack of restrictions, and the opportunity for recently reunited couples to go out, resulted in many favoring this version of theaters over the standard indoor cinemas.
Michigan Drive-In Movie Theater Fun
Not having to be compliant to many rules is a major lure for moviegoers, they no longer have the usual movie-going etiquette to follow since the chances of disrupting others is much lower while in their own cars.
Another attraction of these theaters are the double features shown at almost every drive-in.
In 1938, the first ever drive-in movie theater in Michigan, the East Side Drive-In Theater, opened in Harper Woods.
This Macomb County spot operated for almost 40 years before being torn down.
Over time, drive-in movie theaters across the country lost attraction as property taxes arose and malls became more popular.
Many teenagers and young adults were choosing to hang out in shopping centers, thus resulting in drive-in movie theaters’ popularity to slowly decline.
Michigan Drive-Ins Come Back
Recently, Michigan drive-ins have been experiencing a resurgence in popularity (in part due to social distancing) and are making a comeback.
That’s great news for those who remember summer nights filled with popcorn, favorite friends and the latest Hollywood flick.
It’s also great news for a whole new generation of movie-goers eager to partake in one of our favorite pastimes.
Drive-in movie theaters are becoming a summer staple for many Michiganders. After all, it is an easily planned, safe, and customizable experience.
So, kick off your shoes, place yourself in an environment that takes you back, and make new memories.
Here are our top eight favorite drive-in movie theaters that you need to check out:
USA Hockey Arena
14900 Beck Rd, Plymouth, MI 48170
A night to remember is the phrase that comes to mind for those visiting the Summer Drive-in at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, MI. This outdoor movie theater has three screens that display different movies for guests to choose from.
The USA Hockey Arena’s Summer Drive-in provides guests their own designated parking space where they may set up their folding chairs before the movies start at dusk.
What separates this southeast Michigan drive-in movie theater from others is their food delivery service from CJ’s Restaurant.
The restaurant located within the hockey arena is a well-known and beloved place that allows movie watchers to feel pampered when they make a food order that will be delivered to their parked cars.
Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theatre
9812 Honor Hwy, Honor, MI 49640
Memories that will last forever can be made at the Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theatre in Honor, MI, near Traverse City.
Since 1953, families have been able to enjoy movies that are rated G, PG, or PG-13, at this northern Michigan hotspot.
To maintain the integrity of the old school drive-in experience, this theater includes vintage films, cartoons before each movie, intermissions and more.
The fun doesn’t stop there, this popular spot has a 50’s style mini golf course, a playground for the kids, beach volleyball, and special events that sometimes include pony rides.
The Cherry Bowl also has a diner that provides freshly made treats.
So, don’t forget to try their famous popcorn that is made in the original 1953 popper to top off your movie night. Admissions to join in on the fun are $10 for ages 12 and up.
Hi-Way Drive Inn
2778 Sanilac Rd, Carsonville, MI 48419
Tune in to watch your favorite movies at the Hi-Way Drive Inn, a fun drive-in movie theater in Carsonville, MI.
Just a short drive away from Metro Detroit in Michigan’s Thumb area, the Hi-Way Drive Inn entices it’s guests through the quiet countryside atmosphere for those looking to get away from the city.
On a single screen, double features are shown.
This is the drive-in theater you would want to take your family and friends to if you’re looking for a peaceful and semi-rural night out. Admissions range from $7-$10.
Capri Drive-In Theater
119 W Chicago Rd Coldwater, MI 49036
Upon arrival of the Capri Drive-In Theater, guests are welcomed with the theater’s iconic retro sign that is labeled with the movies being shown that night.
This Michigan drive-in includes two screens and the option to rent portable radios for $3.
This theater is located in Coldwater, MI. Admissions range from $5-$10 and the drive-in accepts cash only.
Please note that if you bring in outside food and drinks, there is a $5 voucher fee: contact the drive-in for more information on this.
920 E Summit Ave, Muskegon, MI 49444
Just a short ride from Grand Rapids and located in Muskegon, MI is a charming lot that is a designated drive-in destination.
At the Getty Drive-In, the location is what makes it distinctive. Right by the lakeshore in west Michigan, guests are able to gaze at the sunset before their movies begin. Admissions are $5 per person.
If you are looking for a more private venue for your group, the Getty Drive-In can help you host an exclusive event.
With their Group Event deals, you will have a unique menu, space, and A/V equipment to make your visit unforgettable.
Ford Drive-In Theatre
10400 Ford Rd, Dearborn, MI 48126
Once known as the world’s largest drive-in movie theater is the Ford Drive-In Theatre.
This outdoor movie theater is open 7 days a week in Dearborn, MI. With five screens among the movie lot, metro-Detroiters love to visit this site to catch the most recent movie releases.
This old-school environment is spacious enough for guests to socially distance from other groups and still be able to properly watch their movie. Admissions range from $5-$12.50.
Memory Lane Drive-In Theater
6501 N. Monroe, Frenchtown, MI 48162
Take a trip down Memory Lane Drive-In Theater for an intimate night out while you and your group are in Monroe, MI.
Memory Lane Drive-In is a newly built outdoor movie theater.
The theater has a playground for the children to run around in for when they are feeling antsy during the movies, and a concession stand in case cravings arise amongst your group.
This standard drive-in has a lot of potential to become one of the unmissable destinations in the historic city of Monroe.
Highway 2 Community Drive-In Theater
US-2, Manistique, MI 49854
The Highway 2 Community Drive-In Theater is the only drive-in theater in the Upper Peninsula.
This specific drive-in theater is known for being free for all as the movies shown are all sponsored by different organizations.
During each of their movie events, concessions are run by a non-profit group. Their objective is to give back to their community, which is where their name stems from.
Visit this amazing location if you are looking for family-friendly movies or are wanting to help support the community.
Drive In Theaters in Michigan Frequently Asked Questions
A. There were 10 active drive in movie theaters in 2019, but that number is growing as venues find new and unique ways to present movies in an outdoor setting.
A. No, you turn your car off at the drive-in movie theater.
A. A drive-in movie screen is between 50 and 100 feet wide; the height of the screen is determined by the chosen width and can vary.
About the Author
Arrianna Bichara is a content writing intern for mymichiganbeach.com. Originally from California, she later moved to Michigan where she now attends Madonna University. She is currently majoring in Journalism and Public Relations with a minor in Criminal Justice. Travelling and storytelling has always been a hobby for Arrianna, and she is excited to bring the two together. In her free time, Arrianna likes to binge watch television shows, take photographs, and plan her next trips.
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