Food & Drink

Catch a Summer Flick at One of WA’s Four Remaining Drive-in Movie Theaters

Take a nostalgic trip to one of the state’s drive-in movie theaters

By Richard Walker August 5, 2019


This article originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of Seattle magazine.

This article appears in print in the August 2019 issue. Click here to subscribe.

As the sun sets, dusk becomes a portal to an evening “funderland”: arcade games, cheeseburgers and banana pudding, and movies under the stars. Welcome to the drive-in theater, once the summer movie venue of choice before the era of at-your-fingertips entertainment. At one time ubiquitous, only four drive-ins remain in western Washington, all playing new releases, second-run films and often double features. Best of all: Summer is the perfect time to plan your next road trip around one of these old-time entertainment destinations.

Blue Fox Drive-In Theater
Location: Oak Harbor, Whidbey Island (1403 N Monroe Landing Road; 360.675.5667). The Experience: This single-screen theater has room for 380 cars. Tune your radio to 88.7-FM for the movie soundtrack. Sit in your car or outside on a lawn chair. Open seven days a week through the summer. Fun Fact: The late Burl Ives of nearby Anacortes won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Big Country the year this theater opened (1959). Don’t Miss: Ride go-karts ’til dusk on the drive-in’s track. Play games in the arcade. Design your own T-shirt or hoodie at the drive-in’s design studio, Blue Fox Prints. Concession Favorites: Philly cheesesteaks, curly fries, 100-ounce soft drinks, and pancakes and sausage during intermission.

A sign welcomes drive-in fans to Port Townsend’s Wheel-In Motor Movie drive-in where the grassy field accommodates 125 cars. Courtesy of Wheel-In Motor Movie

Wheel-In Motor Movie
Location: Port Townsend (210 Theatre Road; 360.385.0859). The Experience: Drive underneath the “Howdy Pardner” sign and into a single-screen theater in a serene forest clearing with spaces for 125 cars. Here you’ll be equipped with classic drive-in speakers that hook onto your car window. Open from April to October. Fun Fact: The owner’s grandparents founded the Wheel-In in 1953. The snack bar building features many original details; the original movie screen was replaced in the summer of 2017. Don’t Miss: You can also watch the movie from a room with theater seating next to the snack bar. Concession Favorites: freshly made hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos and pizza.

Rodeo Drive-In Theater
Location: Bremerton (7369 State Route 3 SW; 360.698.6030) The Experience: This is the largest drive-in in the Northwest, with three screens and room for 1,000 cars. The season is from the first weekend of March through the end of September, with the drive-in open daily from mid-June to Labor Day weekend. Tune in to one of three radio stations for the movie soundtrack. Fun Fact: The Rodeo opened in 1949 as part of the United Drive-Ins chain and has been family owned since 1986. It was reportedly the first Washington drive-in to go completely digital. Don’t Miss: Kids can play on two playgrounds before the show and during intermission. There’s a swap meet on Sundays. Concession Favorites: Philly cheesesteaks, fish and chips, pizza dogs.

Skyline Drive-In Theater
Location: Shelton (182 SE Brewer Road; 360.426.4707). The Experience: This single-screen drive-in is located in a farmland setting with spaces for 330 cars. Its season is from late March through September, with the drive-in open daily during summer. The movie soundtrack is broadcast on 89.1-FM. Fun Facts: Founded in 1964, Skyline was once featured in a video promoting Hood Canal. Ask about the drive-in’s flea market and art fair in August. Don’t Miss: Stay warm during chilly nights at the theater with a Skyline Drive-In blanket or sweatshirt, available for sale at the snack bar (in addition to the usual snack bar fare). No playground or games, just good old-fashioned drive-in movie fun.

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