While movie theaters remain shuttered during the coronavirus pandemic, film fans may be feeling streaming fatigue as they browse through the endless selection of films from their couch. Drive-in movie theaters offer a socially-distanced escape from the house and a return to the movie-loving community.
Metro residents don’t have to go far to experience the nostalgia of a drive-in movie. Half of the state’s remaining drive-in theaters are located within a two-hour drive from the Twin Cities.
We’ve compiled a list of close-to-home drive-in theaters to enjoy during the coming hot summer nights:
Elko Speedway and Drive-InJust a short drive south on Interstate 35, Elko Speedway is a gathering spot for race fans and movie buffs alike. The Elko Drive-In invites families to take a trip to the speedway to slow down and watch a movie under the stars.
The Elko Drive-In’s 46-foot screen is living its second life at the track: purchased and transported to the Speedway in 2014 after four decades as a Cottage Grove landmark and the Cottage View Drive-In. Films roll on the southside of the park from May to September — rain or shine.
While the theater typically boasts space for about 600 cars, for the time being the Elko Drive-In will operate at about 50% capacity according to its website. The theater is asking that visitors wear masks when outside of their cars, space vehicles 7 feet apart and that guests don’t socialize between vehicles. According to the website the concessions stand will remain open with a limited menu and portable restrooms will be onsite and cleaned every 30 minutes.
Admission: Children ages 3 and under watch free. Tickets are $5 for children ages 4-12 and $10 for adults.
Address: 26350 France Ave., Elko-New Market
Vali-Hi Drive-InLocated about 20 minutes east of the Twin Cities, the Vali-Hi Drive-In has been a mainstay in Minnesotan summers since 1966. Visitors to the Lake Elmo theater are greeted by a big screen nestled among the trees and a baby blue marquee announcing each week’s films.
The single-screen drive-in offers guests a double feature film Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays after dusk.
As the theater reopens during the coronavirus pandemic, they’re asking guests to space out and follow social distancing measures. Visitors to the Vali-Hi are asked to park one car between two poles and limit any chairs to directly in front of each vehicle. Each group is also limited to sending one person to concessions at a time and movie goers are “strongly urged to wear a face covering when in public” according to the theater’s website.
The website states that any guest who does not follow the theater’s COVID-19 guidelines will be asked to leave the theater without a refund.
Note: While the theater planned to reopen for business on June 1, a note on the drive-in’s website states the opening date had been postponed due to metro area curfews. Check ValiHi.com for updated information about a reopening date.
Admission: Children ages 5 and under watch free. Tickets are $1 for children ages 6-12 and $10 for guests ages 13 and up.
Address: 11260 Hudson Blvd., Lake Elmo
Starlite Drive-InThe Starlite Drive-In welcomes guests from the Twin Cities to its twin-screens after a 90-minute drive through Minnesota’s countryside. The Litchfield theater comes with a double dose of nostalgia as a movie-going relic with family history to boot. The theater is run by the Quincer family, which has owned and operated Minnesota theaters since 1923 according to the Starlite’s website.
The Starlite’s screens lit up with the drive-in’s first double feature of the season on May 15. Owners posted to the drive-in’s Facebook that the season would start with showings of Disney’s “Onward” and “Call of the Wild” and continue with classic Eddie Murphy films “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Trading Places” in the coming weeks.
The Litchfield-based drive-in has also decided to limit attendance to 50% capacity, with each car spaced 6 feet apart. For the time being, guests are being asked to stay in their car to view each movie and wear a mask if they’re headed to the restroom or snack bar. The concessions will carry a limited snack menu and only serve 10 people at a time. Restrooms will be cleaned after every 15 minutes.
Admission: Children ages 4 and under watch free. Tickets are $4 for children ages 5-12 and $8 for guests ages 13 and up.
Address: 28264 MN Highway 22, Litchfield