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Family Travel: Drive-In Movies with Kids

This is our weekly guest-blog post from the moms behind Red Tricycle, a site that focuses on the "lighter side" of parenting. Every week, they'll be bringing us their picks of stuff to do around the Bay Area with kids.

When was the last time you went to a drive-in movie? If you’re over the age of 20, you probably have a lot of fond childhood or teenage memories surrounding the drive-in! Nowadays, drive-in theaters are few and far between across America, but we’ve hunted some down in our favorite Red Tricycle cities. Add a trip to the drive-in to your summer to-do list and use these tips to make it a fun experience for the entire family!

PREPARE

Since the movies don’t even begin until dusk and little ones are typically ready for bed at that time, a trip to the drive-in theater is going to take a little bit of preparation. Do your best to push naps back later into the afternoon so that they will be more likely to have energy into the night. Read more...

PACK

Here are some things you’ll need to make the evening comfortable and fun:

- Blankets, to layer for comfort underneath you and to cozy up with

- A pillow for each person to be extra comfy

- Pajamas for anyone who might fall asleep so that you can transfer them easily into bed at home

- Cash for the snack bar

- Sippy cups with drinks to avoid spills in the back of your car

- Garbage bag for snack trash and easy cleanup

- Coloring books or something to do while you wait for the movie to start

- Warm hats for little heads, socks for little feet, and an extra layer for the entire family

- Any other nighttime necessities that might come in handy including pacifiers, blankies, bottles and diapers

EAT

Most drive-ins have a snack bar, but one of the great things about going to the drive-in instead of a traditional theater is that you can bring your own snacks! Pop some popcorn at home and put it in individual brown paper bags or make a batch of yummy homemade cookies to snack on during the show. Read more...

EXPECT

The kids are going to think this entire experience is hilarious – you mean we’re going to watch a movie outside? From the car? At NIGHT? Talk to them before you go about how a drive-in works and where everyone will sit to watch the movie. Mom and dad – be prepared that you might have to pack it up and go if you have little ones who can’t settle down to watch or want to go home for bedtime. Read more...

VISIT

If you’re in San Francisco, the West Wind drive-in, with locations in San Jose and Concord, shows first-run flicks and lets in children under 5 for free.

If you’re in Seattle, the nearest drive-in theater is the Valley 6 in Auburn (401 49th Street Northeast). They make delicious made-to-order pizzas at the snack bar and kids under age five are free!

If you’re in Portland, Motor Vu drive-in (in Dallas) or the Milton Freewater drive-in (in La Grande) are good choices, but prepare to drive several miles out of the city.

If you’re in Los Angeles, you’ve got a few choices — just head east. Mission Tiki Drive-In, in Montclair (near Pomona) gets high marks for family-friendliness. Out in Riverside, there’s the Van Buren. You can also catch a movie at the Devil’s Night drive-in, once a month in Downtown LA.

If you’re in San Diego, try the South Bay drive-in or Santee drive-in theatre (kids under 4 are free). Both offer multiple choices of new movies. Cash only!

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San Francisco Kids Weekend Events: June 11-12

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