California Drive-ins

RUBIDOUX DRIVE-IN THEATRE   (Riverside, California)   Circa: 1963
Photo courtesy of: Society for the Preservation of Outdoor Theatres

California's first drive-in movie theatre opened in
June of 1938 (there were less than 15 "auto theatres"
in all of America at that point). Within just ten years,
another 43 drive-ins had opened up and Calfornia was
on its way to becoming one of the top drive-in states.

Between 1948 - 1958, the number of drive-ins in the
state of California more than quadrupled and, while
the number of operating drive-ins in most states had
peaked in the late 1950's, the number of drive-ins in
the state of California kept climbing through the 60's,
with more than 220 in operation by end of the decade.

Since that time, the number of drive-ins operating within
the state has declined by 90%. Still, California is one of
the Top5 Drive-in states and more than 20 remain open.

  • Arlington, California
    see:  Van Buren Drive-in   (Riverside, CA)

 Azusa, California

  • Azusa (Los Angeles County) California
    Azusa Foothill Drive-in:     DARK
    located at 675 East Foothill Boulevard @ Alosta

    The lovely Azusa, first lit in 1955, was the largest
    of California's solo screen Drive-ins and one of two
    Dr'ins which remained in operation in L.A. County
    into the New Millenium. The future of this handsome
    and unique classic and its 17acre site however was
    overshadowed and finally eclipsed by the sale of
    the property to Azusa Pacific University- so that this
    gem of a Drive-in could be razed to provide room for
    the University's expansion plans. Partial demolition
    has proceeded, including removal of the outer walls,
    but some elements of the Azusa remain to be seen ..
    briefly, before it's just a memory (and a parking lot).

 Bakersfield, California
    Photo: Jeff Edling

  • Bakersfield (Kern County) California
    Crest Drive-in:     DARK
    formerly located on Pacheco Road

  • Barstow (San Bernardino County) California
    Skyline Drive-in:  760-256-3333
    located at 31175 Old Highway 58 - 1mi north of town

    The Skyline came late to the party, opening several years
    after the peak of America's Drive-in boom (in 1966), and
    went dark after a run of two decades, going dark in 1987.
    It remained dark for nine years .. it was then resurrected
    and relit in '96 as a solo screen venue. During Season 2k
    another screen was added. Each of their two screens is
    lit with a double feature throughout the year; with some
    occasional special event screenings being hosted such as
    a Midnite Special, featuring such films as the neo-classic
    Texas Chainsaw Massacre (best appreciated on Halloween).
    Admission: $6 per adult; children 11 & under admitted free.

  • Bassett (Los Angeles County) California
    see:   Vineland Drive-in   (City of Industry, CA)

  • Burlingame (San Mateo County) California
    Burlingame Drive-in:     DARK
    formerly located at 350 Beach Road (off Bayshore Hwy)

  • Carson (Los Angeles County) California
    South Bay Drive-in:     DARK
    formerly located at 20151 South Main Street

  • Ceres (Stanislaus County) California
      CLICK for Current Schedule  Ceres Twin Drive-in:  209-537-0832
    located on East Whitmore Avenue @ Blaker St.,
    (40 mins s. of Stockton / 45 mins n. of Merced, CA)

    Originally a solo screen venue that was first lit in 1947,
    the Ceres is currently a very well-maintained deuce,
    which operates March thru October; weekends only,
    early and late in the season; 7 nites in peak season.
    They are screening a double feature on each of their 2
    screens. Movie audio provided via FM radio broadcast;
    Screen 1: 104.5 FM / Screen 2: 107.9 FM. Between both
    the screens the Ceres has a capacity for up to 600 cars.
    Admission: $10 per carload will cover all passengers
    and includes 2 movies- on same screen (no switching).

    There is also a flea market hosted here on Sundays
    (6am-3pm) year-round; admission/parking: $1 per car.
    Vendor/seller info (Sat/Sun 7am-2pm): 209-537-0832.

  • Chula Vista (San Diego County) California
    see:   South Bay Drive-in  (Imperial Beach)

 City of Industry, California

  • City of Industry (Los Angeles County) California
    Vineland Drive-in:  626-961-9262
    located at 443 North Vineland Avenue
    (¼ mile west of East Temple Avenue)

    Classic Drive-in that was expanded to 4 screens,
    with an overall capacity for over 1500 cars, which
    still draws fantastic crowds on most weekends,
    as the Los Angeles area's nearest operating Drive-in.
    Open year-round, with 4 sets of double features,
    and audio provided by FM stereo radio broadcast.
    Admission:  $7.00 (ages 12&UP); ages 11&under free.

  • Concord (Contra Costa County) California
    Solano Drive-in Theatre:     DARK
    1611 Solano Way (Solano-A exit off Hwy.4)

    The Solano has two screens, lit with a double feature
    on each one, seasonally, April thru October. Capacity
    between the 2 lots is for approximately 800 cars, and
    audio is provided with local FM stereo radio broadcast.
    The screens remained lit through Season 2004, and the
    last movie sked tape indicated that the Drive-in would
    be reopening "after the winter" but as of July 2005 it
    was still dark, altho apparently Solano's "year-round"
    FleaMarket is still operational Sat/Sun from 6am-4pm.
    If you know more about the situation than us, do tell!

 Crescent City, California

  • Crescent City (Del Norte County) California
    Red's Crescent Drive-in:  707-464-1813
    located at 2303 Elk Valley Cross Road
    (4 miles north of the town of Crescent City)

    Tucked way up in the northwest corner of California, this
    solo screen is lit-up seasonally- April-Oct, weekends only
    (Fri-Sat-Sun) during spring and fall; and then, open 5 nites
    during peak summer months (Wed-Sun) when school is out.
    Almost in Oregon, and one of California's smallest Drive-ins,
    the Crescent is a classic Drive-in experience in a pleasant
    setting, operating since 1959. Parking capacity for 280 cars;
    movie audio provided with both AM & FM radio broadcasts,
    plus:   there are still classic pole-speakers for the nostalgia
    minded. Admission: $8 per carload (covers all passengers).

  • Daly City (San Mateo County) California
    Geneva 4 Drive-in Theatre:     DARK
    formerly located on Carter Street, off Geneva
    (next to the 'Cow Palace')

  • El Cajon (San Diego County) California
    Aero Drive-in:  619-444-8800    DARK
    located at 1470 East Broadway

    The Aero is no longer operating as a picture show,
    but a Flea Market SwapMeet is still being held here
    Saturdays & Sundays year-round; sked: 6am-3pm.

  • El Centro, California
    see:   Imperial

  • Fair Oaks (Sacramento County) California
    Sunrise Drive-in:     DARK
    located at 8149 Greenback Lane

  • Fresno (Fresno County) California
    see also: Hanford   (nearest open Drive-in)

 Fresno, California

  • Fresno (Fresno County) California
    Sunnyside Drive-in:     DARK
    located at 5550 East Olive Avenue;

    The Sunnyside is still there, but it functions now
    only as a site for a flea market: 559-251-1363 /7373

  • Fresno (Fresno County) California
    Woodward Park Drive-in:     GONE
    formerly located at 7150 North Abby Street

    The Woodward Park had operated here for 22 years,
    lighting-up four screens to provide cinema al fresco
    as the last of Fresno's six area Drive-ins which had
    managed to remain lit .. until it went dark in the 1st
    year of the new millenium. It was also the last outdoor
    "quad" in California. The Woodward went southward
    during May & June of 2002, as it was demolished to
    make way for (BIZ@usual) Costco and Home Depot.

  • Gardena (Los Angeles County) California
    Vermont Drive-in:     GONE
    formerly located at 17737 S. Vermont Avenue
    (the site is now a housing development).

  • Hanford (Kings County) California
      CLICK for Current Schedule  Kings Drive-in:  559-584-5425
    located at 14th Avenue & Lacey Boulevard

    One of the largest movie screens in California
    (100' wide) is situated right in the center of the
    state— between Bakersfield & Fresno, a screen
    which has remained lit every season since 1948.
    There are Drive-ins in other states with screens
    this large, and even some a little larger, but this
    just may be the only case of a screen of this size
    for the benefit of so few cars (no more than 300),
    which adds-up to everyone being able to get the
    BIG picture. Two, in fact, since they're screening
    a double-feature every nite of the week during a
    season that lasts from March thru October. Movie
    audio is provided with radio (91.1 FM) broadcast.
    Admission— the lowest of any California Drive-in:
    $5 per carload, every nite (for up to 6 passengers).

  • Imperial (Imperial County) California
    Motor Vu Twin Drive-in:  760-352-4385
    located at 385 West Aten Road (off Highway 86)

    One of the oldest of California's remaining Drive-ins,
    this was originally a solo screen - first lit back in 1940,
    and now a deuce, with a capacity for up to 500 cars.
    Bordered now by industrial sites, but not to the extent
    that it impairs the experience, the Motor Vu remains
    an oasis perpetuating the presence of The Past. They're
    operating year-round, screening a pair of double features.

  • Imperial Beach (San Diego County) California
    South Bay Drive-in:  619-423-2727
    located at 2170 Coronado Avenue, off I-5
    (1 mile north of the Mexican border)

    Large tri-screen venue with a capacity for up to
    1500 cars throughout, lighting each of its three
    screens with a double-feature all year long. The
    audio is provided via AM & FM radio broadcast.

    TRIVIA:   Legend has it ..   that a long time ago, in a galaxy
    not far away, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who was born
    September 25th, 1951, in Oakland, had been working here
    San Diego nites, prior to hooking-up with the Jedi Knights.

  • Industry, California
    see: City of Industry

  • La Habra (Orange County) California
    La Habra Drive-in:     GONE
    formerly located at Idaho Street & Imperial Hwy.

    HELLO  K-MART SHOPPERS:   in aisle-7 today, we have
    a real  Kmart special ..   Deja Vu ..  stock-up on those
    sensations that maybe you've been  there before ..
    and maybe you were ..   when this was a Drive-in.

 Lakeport, California

  • Lakeport (Lake County) California
    Lakeport Auto Movies Theatre:  707-263-5011
    located at 52 Soda Bay Road

    Solo screen, lit with a double-feature every nite
    during peak summer season
    Movie audio provided with AM (530) and FM (81) radio
    broadcasts; radios can also be rented for 75¢
    Admission: $15 per carload (for up to six persons);

  • La Puente (Los Angeles County) California
    see:   Vineland Drive-in   (City of Industry, CA)

  • Loma Linda (San Bernardino County) California
    Tri-City Drive-in:     GONE
    formerly located at 25352 Redlands Boulevard

  • Lompoc (Santa Barbara County) California
    Valley Drive-in:     DARK
    Located at 2222 North H Street (Route 1)

  • Madera (Madera County) California
    Madera Drive-in Theatre:  559-673-5381
    located at 201 East Lincoln Avenue (off Hwy 99)
    * two screens

     Marysville Drive-in

  • Marysville (Yuba County) California
    Marysville Drive-in:  530-743-2342
    located on Route 70 - 1 miles outh of Marysville
    (Chestnut Road) Exit Highway 70 at Erie Road
    opened-up in June of '66 as the Sierra Drive-in

  • Modesto, California
    see: Ceres

  • Montclair (San Bernardino County) California
    Mission Drive-in:  909-627-3564 / 628-0511
    located at 10789 Ramona Avenue (Mission Blvd)

    The Mission has four screens lit with double features
    seasonally, May through September, and a capacity for
    up to 1450 cars. There is also a flea market swapmeet
    held here throughout the year Wed/Fri/Sat/Sun 6am-2pm.

  • National City (San Diego County) California
    Harbor Drive-in:  619-477-1392
    located at 32nd & D Avenue,
    (National City Blvd., off Freeway 54)

  • Oakland (Alameda County) California
    Coliseum Drive-in Theatre:   DARK
    formerly located at 5401 Coliseum Way

  • Oceanside (San Diego County) California
    Valley Drive-in:   DARK
    located at 3480 W. Mission Avenue
    (2 miles east of Interstate 5)

    Originally a large solo-screen venue when it first
    opened, at the tail end of America's Drive-in boom
    in 1967, the Valley was lighting 4 screens up-thru
    the last season of the old Millenium. Those screens
    have remained   dark   for the past six seasons, and
    management says, will remain so "until further notice."
    There is activity here on the weekends in the form of
    a Flea Market SwapShop (7am-3pm) Saturdays and
    Sundays, year-round. Admission: 75¢ Sat; $1.25 Sun.
    Phone number (for FleaMarket only):   760-757-5286

  • Pico Rivera (Los Angeles County) California
    Fiesta Drive-in:   GONE
    formerly located on Paramount, south of Whittier
    (8462 East Whittier Boulevard)

  • Pomona (Los Angeles County) California
    see:   Mission Drive-in   (Montclair, CA)

  • Porterville (Tulare County) California
    Porterville Drive-in Theatres:  559-784-4883
    located at 155 North Newcomb Street
    * two screens

  • Riverdale, California
    see: Hanford

 Riverside, California

  • Riverside (Riverside County) California
    Rubidoux Drive-in:  951-683-4455
    located at 3770 Opal Street @ Mission Blvd
    ¾mile w. of Valley Blvd. off-ramp on {60} Freeway

    One of California's oldest continually-operated
    Drive-ins, the Rubidoux was a solo screen venue
    (with amusement park rides beneath the screen),
    when it was first lit- back in 1948. Presently, there
    are 3 screens lit-up with a double feature on each.
    Movie admission: $5 for ages 12&UP (11&under free).
    Open seasonally (May thru Sept), the old picture show
    shuts down for the fall and winter months .. while the
    FleaMarket SwapMeet held here operates year-round
    on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday, from 6am.

  • Riverside (Riverside County) California
    Van Buren Drive-in:  951-688-2360
    located at 3035 Van Buren Blvd., ½mi s. of {91}
    (Van Buren Blvd exit off the {91} Freeway)

    Southern California's largest operating Drive-in
    has 3 screens (each lit with a double-feature),
    and an overall capacity to park up to 1500 cars.
    The VanBuren is open year-round and provides
    movie audio with FM-stereo radio broadcasts.
    Admission:   $5 for ages 12&UP; 11 & under free.
    Flea Mkt SwapMeet here on weekends (FFI: 688-2829).

  • Sacramento (Sacramento County) California
    49'er Drive-in:    DARK
    located at 4450 Marysville Boulevard
    (I-80 & Raley Boulevard)
    * six screens

  • Sacramento (Sacramento County) California
    Sacramento 6 Drive-in:  916-363-6572 /6573
    located on Freeway 50 @ Bradshaw Road
    * six screens

  • Sacramento (Sacramento County) California
    Sunrise Drive-in:    DARK
    located at 8419 Greenback Lane

  • Salinas (Monterey County) California
    Skyview Drive-in:   GONE
    formerly located at
    North Sanborn Road & Garner Ave

    History Lesson:  The Skyview had a date with the 'dozer on
    Monday, July 9th, 2001 ..  and was swept into the dustbin of
    Oblivion, to make way for construction of a school building.

  • San Diego (San Diego County) California
    South Bay Drive-in:  619-423-2727
    located on Coronado Avenue, west of I-5
    * three screens

  • San Jose (Santa Clara County) California
    Capitol Drive-in Theatre:  408-226-2251
    located at 3630 Hillcap Avenue;
    (Capitol Expressway & Monterey Road)

    Chain-owned venue with 6 screens of varying sizes
    and a capacity for more than 600 cars throughout.
    Open all year long, screening double features on
    each screen. Audio provided with FM stereo radio
    broadcast (some traditional Dr'in speakers remain).
    Admission: $6 per person (11&under admitted free).
    Pizza is popular here, and it can also be delivered to
    your car!  FleaMkt swapmeet held here on weekends.

  • San Luis Obispo (San Luis Obispo County)
    Sunset Drive-in:  805-544-4475
    located at 255 Elks Lane

  • Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz County) California
    Skyview Drive-in:  831-475-3405 /2405
    located at 2260 Soquel Drive (@ Highway 1)
    * two screens


  • Santa Fe Springs (Los Angeles County) California
    Santa Fe Springs Drive-in:  714-523-9310
    located at 13963 Alondra Boulevard

    Before the Santa Ana (I-5) came through these parts,
    back in '48, when about all you found here was dairy
    farms and orange groves, a parcel of 18 rural acres
    was acquired on which to build the La Mirada Drive-in
    Movie Theatre.  The Drive-in opened two years later;
    one of America's largest at the time (1950), with its
    capacity for more than 1,000 cars. In 1965 La Mirada
    became one of the first Drive-ins to host an ongoing
    Flea Market Swapmeet (possibly the longest-running).
    The screen at La Mirada (subsequently renamed) went
    dark in 1990 and has remained so, with the exception
    of occasional events and an annual two-nite stand ..
    i.e., the double-feature on August 28-29th ($5 per car).
    The Swapmeet, in its 36th consecutive year, continues;
    during the day, on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday;
    and in the evening (5-10PM) on Sunday and Friday.

  • Santa Maria (Santa Barbara County) California
    HiWay Drive-in:  805-937-3515
    located at 3085 Santa Maria Way

  • Santa Maria (Santa Barbara County) California
    Park Aire Drive-in:   GONE
    formerly located on East Donovan Road

  • Santee (San Diego County) California
    Santee Drive-in:  619-448-7447
    located at 10990 Woodside Avenue (off 67)
    * two screens SwapMeet tel: 449-7927

 Simi Valley, California

  • Simi Valley (Ventura County) California
    Simi Valley Drive-in:    GONE
    formerly located on Tierra Rejada Road

  • South El Monte (Los Angeles County) California
    Starlite Drive-in:  626-448-7631    DARK
    located at 2540 Rosemead Boulevard

    The Picture Show is no longer operating here;
    lot is being used to host a FleaMkt Swapmeet.

  • Stockton (San Joaquin County) California
    Valley 99 Drive-in:   GONE
    formerly located at 4100 Route 99 South

  • Twentynine Palms (San Bernardino County) California
    Smith's Ranch Drive-in:  760-367-7713
    located on Adobe Road

    photo:  Alex Vosicka
 formerly in Union City, CA 
 by Alex Vosicka

  • Union City (Alameda County) California
    Union City 6 Drive-in:   GONE
    formerly (6 screens) located at
    Alvarado & Highway 880

    At the time that the Union City IMG above was captured
    by Alex Vosicka, on the 22nd of August 1998, all aspects
    with the exception of 1 screen and a lot of memories, had
    been totally bulldozed into the dumpster of Oblivion ..  finally,
    the last screen went, and presently there's a huge shopping
    plaza alongside the Nimitz Freeway (I-880) over there where-
    where, you know, where that Drive-in Picture Show used to be.
    Thanks Alex, for giving us all a last glimpse as she went down.

  • Ventura (Ventura County) California
    101 Drive-in:   GONE
    formerly located at 4826 Telephone Road
    * California needed another shopping plaza!

  • Visalia (Tulare County) California
    Mooney Drive-in:  209-733-0380
    located on South Mooney Boulevard
    * two screens

  • Westminster (Orange County) California
    Hi-Way 39 Drive-in:    GONE
    formerly located on Trask Avenue, off Freeway 22
    * had four screens and the largest parking lot
    of any California Drive-in ... now, a WalMart!

  • Yucca Valley (San Bernadino County) California
    Sky Drive-In:   DARK
    located on Theatre Road

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 The Guide to Drive-in Movie Theatres

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