The drive-in movie theater, a 1930s American invention, made a very quick comeback during the pandemic. Some of us might have fond memories of drive-ins under the stars. Piling into Volvo station wagons (or the like), packed tighter than sardines next to our siblings, cozy in our jammies and clutching favorite blankets or bears. We may not have stayed awake for the entire show, more than likely falling asleep facedown on our Milky Way, but catching a drive-in was a summertime favorite. One we can pass on to our own little movie-goers.
We’re lucky to have a couple of traditional legacy drive-in theaters in the Seattle area, as well as newcomer drive-ins from organizations that made a quick pandemic pivot, serving families’ needs for COVID-safe entertainment. And the audio has also been drastically improved, since all drive-ins now use dedicated FM stations to provide the sound.
—Make sure to check what’s playing before packing up and heading out. Don’t make the mistake my friend’s parents made back in the day and bring your kindergartner to see “The Exorcist.”
—Shows begin at dusk, and plan to arrive ahead of time. Some drive-in movie theaters have snack stands (and other entertainment while you wait), but bring coloring books or a deck of cards to help pass the time.
—Not all drive-ins allow outside food, so please check the policy if you want to bring a picnic. And look at the posted rules online first if your dog wants to come along, too.
Here are 7 drive-in movie theaters around the Seattle area for 2022:
The BECU Movies event was going strong at Marymoor Park each summer before the pandemic hit – for people with picnic blankets and portable chairs. With a quick change, it’s been repurposed as a drive-in.
Find it: 6046 West Lake Sammamish Parkway NE, Redmond
Days: April 20 to July 28.
Ticket price: $30 per carload. Purchase online.
Concessions: Yes, from multiple food trucks.
This nonprofit weekly drive-in event started funding extra time for staff members whose hours were cut during the pandemic.
Find it: 3549 West Lake Sammamish Parkway SE, Bellevue
Days: Tuesdays. Film begins at dusk.
Ticket price: Free, but donations are encouraged. $25 per car is suggested. Reserve tickets and donate online.
Concessions: Yes, concessions available include hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, ice cream, candy and beverages.
Since 1949! Three screens play three sets of double features at a time, but you do have to stick to one set only.
Find it: Highway 3, near the Bremerton Airport, Bremerton
Days: Usually March through September, Friday through Sunday. Showtime at dusk.
Ticket price: All prices are for a double feature, an old-school drive-in tradition. General admission: $10. Children 12 and under and seniors 55 and up: $7. Free for kids 4 and under. Tickets available online.
Concessions: Yes, including burgers, fries and pizza dogs. Online ordering available for large orders. Pagers available for pickups.
An Oak Harbor family favorite since 1959! There’s an arcade on the premises, as well as a go-kart track. Movies are on a first come, first served basis, and the box office opens at 4 (along with go karts, snack bar, and arcade), and first show starts at dusk.
Find it: 1403 N. Monroe Landing Rd., Oak Harbor
Days: Every day starting June 9. First movie starts at dusk.
Ticket price (by credit card): It’s a double feature! Adult, 11 and up, $7. Child, 5 to 10: $1.50. 4 and under: Free.
Concessions: Yes. Pizza, popcorn, Philly cheesesteaks and churros.
More outdoor movies:
Mural Amphitheatre, Seattle Center
Cozy up in a chair or on your blanket and watch a selection of movies good for teens and older.
Find it: Seattle Center
Days: Varies, starting July 30 with the Princess Bride
Ticket Price: Free
Concessions: Bring your own picnic or stop at the Armory for food choices.
Restroom: Yes, in the Armory
Dive-In Movies at Wild Waves
The Federal Way theme park is showing off its new, giant poolside LED screen with movies in the pool (park admission required). Here’s what’s playing at 5:30 p.m. Thursdays:
June 23, “Finding Nemo”; June 30, “Sing 2”: July 7, “Jungle Cruise”; July 14, “Luca”; July 21, “Boss Baby 2”; July 28, “50 First Dates”; August 4, “Encanto”; August 11, “Space Jam”; August 18, “Spongebob: Sponge on the Run”; August 25, “School of Rock.”
Friday Night Flicks, Auburn
Find it: Various Parks
Days: Fridays starting July 29 with Sing 2 at Lea Hill Park, Encanto on Aug 5 at Sunset Park and Remember the Titans on Aug 12 at Les Gove Park
Ticket Price: Free
Concessions: Bring your own picnic.
Restroom: Varies by park
Sail In Cinema, Everett
Friday nights mid-July – mid-August 2022 at the Port of Everett’s Boxcar Park. The Port of Everett’s Sail-in Cinema is the only waterfront movie series in Snohomish County, offering free, family-friendly movies.
Find It: 1205 Craftsman Way #200 Everett, WA 98201
Days: Friday Nights
Ticket Price: Free
Concessions: Local restaurants offering take out
Farther afield: Two more classic drive-ins on the Olympic Peninsula:
Skyline Drive-In Theater (since 1964)
182 SE Brewer Road, Shelton
Wheel-In Motor Movie Drive-In (since 1953)
210 Theatre Road, Port Townsend
More from Seattle’s Child:
Originally published summer 2021; updated for 2022