Illinois Drive-ins

In the late 1950's - at the height of the Drive-in boom,
Illinois was home to more than 120 outdoor picture shows.
Since the heydays of America's Drive-ins, this state has seen
their number decline by 90% and presently, only 12 remain open.

.. And Now the Good News ..
Across the country, we are now witnessing more openings of new
Drive-ins and re-openings of restored and 'resurrected' Drive-ins
than closings.   Illinois is contributing to this Drive-in renaissance
with the re-opening of the Route 66 Drive-in   (formerly known as
the Green Meadows Drive-in), which is located in Springfield, IL,
and with the anticipated June 2003 opening of the Galva AutoVue.


  • Aurora (Kane County) Illinois
    Hi Lite 30 Drive-in:  630-898-5888
    located on Montgomery Road @ Hill Avenue

    Having opened a couple of years after the end of the
    Second World War, just before the boom years for
    America's outdoor theatres, the Thirty is the oldest
    of Illinois' Drive-ins that remain in operation (1947).
    For several years, it was also a "MoPed" -- one of
    several venues across America where a motorcar
    cinema and a pedestrian's cinema share the same
    property .. although, contrary to late 20th Century
    tendencies, the hardtop went dark and the ozoner
    remained lit. Among other changes that the Thirty
    has seen in its 55 years ... Drive-in speakers have
    been replaced by a local vicinity radio broadcast
    of the movies' soundtrack (101.5 FM). Clever use
    is still made of their speaker poles however, with
    some of them being painted yellow as indications
    of where the heavy metal and vans should park as
    a courtesy - to avoid blocking anyone's view of the
    picture show. The Thirty's massive lot is capable
    of hosting nearly a thousand cars, although they
    cut-off at around 800 cars on the busiest nites to
    leave a little breathing space.  And reminiscent
    of the Drive-in's glory days, it is still very typical
    to see the early arrivals with a soccer ball or a
    frisbee, playing on the grass up in front of the
    big screen. The Hi-Lite 30 Drive-in's season runs
    from April thru October; on wknds only during the
    spring and fall; 7 nites during peak summer season;
    screening double features. Admission: $5.50 adults;
    kids under 12 admitted free.  Find it right off Rte.30

 Belleville, Illinois

  • Belleville (St. Clair County) Illinois
    Skyview Drive-in:  618-233-4400
    located at 5700 North Belt West

    Double features on each of 2 screens.
    Admission: $6 adults, and two children
    of ages 12 or under are admitted in free
    with each paying adult (add'l children, per
    adult, charged $2 each); gates open 7pm.

  • Bluffs (Scott County) Illinois
    Placke's Drive-in:    DARK
    located at 303 South Bluffs Street

  • Breese (Clinton County) Illinois
    Avon Drive-in:    DARK
    located on Route 50

  • Chicago (Cook County) Illinois
    Double Drive-in:    DARK
    located at 2800 West Columbus Avenue

  • Cicero (Cook County) Illinois
    Bel-Air Drive-in:   DARK
    aka: Loew's Cineplex Bel-Air Drive-in
    3101 S. Cicero Avenue at 31st Street

    Originally opened in 1949, the Bel-Air had evolved
    over the years into a 3-screen venue; each of them
    usually hosting a double feature on the same ticket,
    with a capacity for a thousand cars throughout. Until
    its closing in 1999, the Bel-Air was unique among the
    surviving American drive-ins by the fact that two movies
    would be broadcast simultaneously on 1 of it's 2 towers,
    which was a two-sided screen, back to back. The facility
    remains, and therefore - conceivably, it might be revived.

  • Clinton (DeWitt County) Illinois
    Clinton Drive-in Theatre:    GONE
    formerly located on Route 54 East

  • Dixon (Lee County) Illinois
    Midway Drive-in:  815-625-4099
    located 10 mins north of Interstate 88 on
    Prairieville Road, between Sterling & Dixon

    2002 notches the 48th season for the Midway, an
    old fashioned single screen venue. The update on
    the audio - going from pole speakers to FM radio -
    may depreciate the Nostalgic value for some, but
    there are compensating factors, including one of
    the few remaining traditional playgrounds for the
    wee folk. Admission: $6 age12up; 11&under free.

  • Earlville (La Salle County) Illinois
    34 Drive-in:  815-246-9700
    located on Old Route 34

    This classic single screen Drive-in has been in the same
    family (handed down from father to son) since 1954 .. and
    from the projection room behind to the scenes to its full
    complement of traditional Drive-in speakers outside, little
    has changed here since the heyday of the American Drive-in.
    Open seasonally, April thru October, screening double features
    on weekends only. Admission: $6 adults; $5 seniors; $3 ages 6-12.

  • Galva (Henry County) Illinois
    Galva AutoVue Drive-in:  

    Illinois will be inheriting another Drive-in this year,
    which is being constructed from the ground up ..
    on a 5.3 acre site near Galva's Jr/Sr High School:
    a twin-screen with a capacity for up to 250 cars;
    expected to be opening in June of Season 2003.

    photo: Jim Miller
 Gibson City, Illinois 
 by Jim Miller

  • Gibson City (Ford County) Illinois
    Harvest Moon Drive-in:  217-784-8770
    (or toll-free: 877-546-6843) Route 47 South
    located at 1123 South Sangamon (Old Rte.34)

    Originally a solo screen when it opened back in '54,
    the Harvest Moon is presently a twin, open seasonally,
    April thru September. Audio: FM stereo radio broadcast.
    During June and July open 6 nites (closed on Thursdays).
    Admission: $5 per person (children 5&under are free).

  • Grayslake (Lake County) Illinois
    Grayslake Outdoor Theatre:    GONE
    formerly located on Route 120 East

  • Herrin (Williamson County) Illinois
    The Egyptian Drive-in:    DARK
    located on Route 148 South, adjacent to
    the Williamson County Airport

  • Joliet (Will County) Illinois
    Hilltop Drive-in:   DARK *
    located off Route 6, at 1800 Maple Road

    Large solo screen, with a capacity for over
    500 cars, open seasonally, April thru October,
    on weekends only. Audio:   FM radio broadcast,
    and some traditional Drive-in speakers as well.
    * Not confirmed to be operating for Season 2003.

    photo: Justin West
 Litchfield, Illinois 
 by Justin West

  • Litchfield (Montgomery County) Illinois
    Skyview Drive-in:  217-324-4451
    located on Route 66 North

    Well-maintained Drive-in with a solo screen
    which has passed the half-century mark, lit
    since 1950. The Skyview is open seasonally,
    April thru October. Audio: FM radio broadcast,
    as well as some traditional Drive-in speakers.
    Admission:  $1 per person for ages 7 and up;
    Thurs: $3/carload - any number of passengers.

  • McHenry (McHenry County) Illinois
    McHenry Indoor/Outdoor Theatre:  815-385-0144
    located at 1510 North Chapel Hill Road
    (½ mile north of Route 120)

    Solo screen lit with double features, seasonally,
    May thru September. Parking policy implemented
    here to assure unobstructed views of the screen:
    bigger vehicles should park adjacent to red poles;
    the conventional cars park next to the silver poles.
    Admission: $5 for ages 12&up;  under age 11 free.

  • Monee (Will County) Illinois
    Cicero Twin Drive-in:  708-712-7469
    located at 23500 South Cicero
    (1.5 miles south of Highway 30)

    The Cicero is a deuce that came up late in the deck -
    opening in 1969, about a decade after the peak of
    America's Drive-in boom. Audio for the soundtrack
    is provided by local FM radio broadcast. Plan on
    arriving here early; especially on the weekends -
    if you don't want to be disappointed (there's also a
    discount for very early arrivals on Friday/Saturday).
    Double features of first-run films are presented on
    each of their 2 screens. Admission: $6 for ages 12UP
    (free admission for children under 12 .. with an adult);
    FRI/SAT: reduced admission of $5 if you're IN by 7:30

  • Newton (Jasper County) Illinois
    Fairview Drive-in:  618-455-3100
    located on Route 33, 5 mi east of town

    The most rural of Illinois' remaining outdoor cinemas
    is located in southern Illinois, about 220 miles south of
    Chicago, and 60 miles south of Terre Haute, Indiana .. this
    single (72' x 36') screen venue that opened amidst cornfields
    in 1953, was purchased forty years later by its current owner.
    The Fairview is open 4 nites of the week:  Fri/Sat/Sun/Mon;
    seasonally, April 1st - Sept 30th; screening double features
    for 1 low ticket price.  Audio is provided primarily by local
    (88.5 FM) radio broadcast; some traditional speakers remain.
    Admission: $4 adults; $2 children aged 3-12; free under 3 yrs.

  • Prairieville (Lee County) Illinois
    see:   Dixon, Illinois

  • Springfield (Sangamon County) Illinois  
     Click to view current Movie Schedule Route 66 Drive-in:   217-546-8881
    located adjacent to Knight's Action Park, at
    1700 Recreation Drive (1 block south of I-72);
    * If you're in Springfield, you can go straight out on the
    Old Chatham Road; they're on the left as you cross I-72.

    Originally, the Green Meadows Drive-in Theatre, when it first
    opened in 1978, this deuce in central Illinois was lit for only
    4 years before closing in 1982. It then remained 'dark' for two
    decades by the time that the Knight family (the owner's of an
    adjacent theme park attraction) had acquired and restored it.
    Re-christened The Route 66 Drive-in, after the historic "Mother"
    road which passes a few blocks to the south, 1 of its 2 screens
    was re-lit on May 24th (2002), with a special screening for the
    Drive-in's grand reopening - Grease   and   Hollywood Knights
    (they're considering lighting the Drive-in's other screen in 2003).
    And speaking of Hollywood Knights, the Knight family has gone to
    considerable effort and expense in not simply re-opening the old
    Drive-in, but in making many improvements, yet while still trying to
    maintain and preserve the character of the former Green Meadows.
    Everything old is new again-   minus classic car window speakers
    (movie audio being provided by local FM (89.1) radio broadcasting).
    The Route 66 is screening double features 7 nites from Memorial Day
    weekend thru Labor Day, and then weekends only September/October.
    Admission: $5 (ages 13&up); $2 for ages 12&under; age 3&under free.

  • Summer Hill (Pike County) Illinois
    Clark 54 Twin Pike Drive-in:   217-285-2805
    located out on Highway 54 West

    It'd been almost fifty years since this Ozoner came
    down the pike (and it looked it). Or, the polite way to
    describe this particularly forlorn Dr'in woulda been
    to call it: "quite inherently rustic"   ..  a look that just
    begged for some southwestern Last Outpost locale.
    Nevertheless, from our POV,   any   Drive-in is better
    than none .. even if the Clark 54, which opened-up on
    the 4th of July (1952) wasn't settin-off fireworks in any
    beauty pageant. But it managed to hang-on somehow,
    on the weekends anyway, mid-April through Labor Day
    (ample proof that Drive-in fans would be appreciative
    enough to just find one, to make certain allowances).

    FLASH-FORWARD: in the spring of 2001, THE CLARK 54
    was acquired by new owners who are clearly committed
    to improving and preserving this old Ozoner, and they
    have finally given the 54 a well-deserved makeover!

  • West Chicago (DuPage County) Illinois
    Cascade Drive-in Theatre:  630-231-3150
    located 1.5mi east of Route 59 on 64 ("North Avenue")

    This is the largest outdoor cinema within the state of Illinois -
    with a capacity for 1200 cars. More interesting from our POV
    is the fact that the Cascade has consistently generated more
    eMail and positive comments than any other Illinois Drive-in.
    Lit-up seasonally from April thru October since 1952, Cascade
    screens double features of first-run films 7 nites a week, and
    provides a choice of traditional Drive-in speakers or FM radio
    for the movies' soundtrack. Admission: $6 adults; $1 children.

  • Wheeling (Cook County) Illinois
    Twin Drive-in Theatre:    DARK
    formerly located at 1010 South Milwaukee Avenue

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 the Drive-ins of Illinois!

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 The Guide to Drive-in Movie Theatres

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