Summer nights are soon here, and with a tide swirling around and a sore pump (hopefully), thousands of San Diego are searching for options that don’t include indoor dining or bars or gas tanks for a road trip.
The perfect solution could include one of the most popular pastimes of the past and a short drive to Santee or South Bay.
We’re talking, of course, about the retro glamor at the Santee (10990 Woodside Ave. North) and South Bay (2170 Coronado Ave., San Diego) drive-in theaters, where movie lovers can see two moving images for the price of one entry. Compared to indoor cinemas, drive-in prices are another nice blast from the past: admission is $12 per person for Santee and even $10 in South Bay.
Apologies to the movie pros reading, but here’s how it works: after paying admission, drive to a location of your choice, then tune your radio to the prescribed frequency. You might want to hit the snack bar or the restroom – you’ll need a mask as soon as you step out of your car in South Bay – before settling down for the night.
Opened in 1958 as a family business and passed down through generations, the drive-in Santee screens movies every night of the year with four different films per night (two per screen) and seats more than 1,000 vehicles. South Bay Drive-In has three screens, so six movies a night.
Before you go
What should you bring along? Santee Drive-In’s Krista Forte said guests can bring their own food and drinks (although no alcohol), but the theater has a snack bar if you want fresh popcorn or other treats. Forte said the most popular snacks, along with popcorn and candy, are nachos and jumbo pretzels. The South Bay Theater also has coupons for free fountain drinks.
Showtimes at both drive-in cinemas are at this time at 8:30 a.m.; They recommend arriving about 30 minutes early to buy tickets at the gate and find the perfect parking spot. None of the cinemas have pre-sales, so it’s first come, first come basis. served first.
Some people worry that using their car stereo will drain their car battery during the movie, but don’t worry: both locations offer jumper cables and have someone ready to help you. They also recommend bringing a portable radio or buying one at the takeaway.
Visitors are of course not required to see both films in their entirety, but if you wish to skip the first film you must arrive 15 minutes before the start of the second film.
Insider tip: the Santee drive-in cinema sometimes shows a third film at the weekend. So if you’re more of a night owl, arrive before the second film and stay afterwards for a rerun of the first film that was shown.
And if you’re wondering, the films that will be shown are the same pictures that are showing in the first cinemas now.
- Thursday to Saturday: Theater1 – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (8:30) and Death on the Nile (10:45). Theater 2 – The Bad Guys (8:30) and Firestarter (10:25)
- Thursday: Theater 1 – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (8:30) and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (11). Theater 2 – The Bad Guys (8:30) and Sonic 2 (10:30). Theater 3 – Firestarter (8:30) and Firestarter (10:40)
- Friday: Theater 1 – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (8:30) and Uncharted (11). Theater 2 – The Northman (8:30) and Firestarter (11). Theater 3 – The Bad Guys (8:30) and Sonic 2 (10:30)
- Saturday: Theater 1 – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (8:30) and Uncharted (11). Theater 2 – The Northman (8:30) and Firestarter (11). Theater 3 – The Bad Guys (8:30) and Sonic 2 (10:30)
For more information on upcoming films and more, visit the Santee Drive-In website and the South Bay Drive-In website.