Drive-in Theaters of Western Washington

(And some of Eastern Washington)

I remember going to drive-ins as a kid, when it was one of the few public places we could go to late at night. Instead of a short jaunt to the theater, the drive-in would take up the ballance of the evening, and thus would feel like an event.

As I got older, I realized the full outdoor cathedral-to-the-cinema experience that the drive-in is. I'm fascinated enough by indoor theaters. It seems peculuar whenever a movie theater building is converted for other uses because the experience of seeing a movie is so powerful that I can't imagine the building being used for something else. Yet, drive-ins provide a similar experience with the barest of surroundings.

I was only ever taken to three drive-ins as a kid: the Midway, the Valley and the El Rancho. Most of the rest of them I could see shining away as I rode past them on the way back from some late-night social event or the other. That's another thing about drive-ins and the '70s: most operators built their screens to face away from the road, but more often than not, freeway builders built the freeway on the land behind the drive-in, opening up a great view for the more heavily traveled route.

Historical drive-in sites also mark the forgotten routes of U. S. numbered highways in the Seattle area and elsewhere. The peak of drive-ins in the '50s marked the peak of auto culture that could only be answered, and demystified, by the Interstate Highway System.

The drive-ins left today are special. If drive-ins weren't already established in more nurturing times, they wouldn't likely be introduced now.

Open Drive-ins:

Valley, Auburn
Blue Fox, Oak Harbor
Puget Park, Everett
Rodeo, Port Orchard
Skyline, Shelton
Wheel-In, Port Townsend

Open Drive-ins, Eastern Washington:

Vue Dale, Wenatchee
Auto View, Colville

Closed Drive-ins:

El Rancho, Kent
Midway, Kent
112th, Spanaway
Aurora, Seattle
Auto View, Tacoma
Auto-Vue, Camas
Crystal, Enumclaw
Bel-Kirk, Kirkland
Big Bear, Poulsbo
Circus, Anacortes
Duwamish, Seattle
Eastside, Kirkland
Everett, Everett
Fife, Fife
Harbor, Aberdeen
Hazel Dell, Vancouver
Holiday, Custer
Kenmore, Kenmore
Kitsap Lake, Bremerton
Lacey, Lacey
Moonlite, Bellingham
Motor-Vu, Bellingham
Ocean Shores, Ocean Shores
Orcas, Eastsound
Port Angeles, Port Angeles
Renfro, Vancouver
Samish Twin, Bellingham
Sno King, Lynwood
Skagit, Burlington
SkyVu, Everett
Starlite, Tacoma
Sunset, Bellevue
Sunset, Tumwater
Thunderbird, Marysville
Twin City, Centralia
Your Twin, Longview

Some Closed Drive-ins, Eastern Washington:

Skyline, Moses Lake
Mountain View, Cashmere
Sunset, Othello
Big Sky Motor Movie, Pullman
Pullman, Pullman
Pow Wow, Oroville
Country, Yakima
Spokane Theaters
North Cedar, Spokane
Park 'N' Y, Kennewick
Riverview, Pasco
Tri-Circle, Richland -->Update Captions added
Top-Hi, Toppenish
Fruitvale, Yakima
Parkin, Lakeview Park/Soap Lake
Other Eastern Washington Drive-ins


Three Southern California Drive-in maps:
Orange, Anaheim & Stadium 8


Northfield, a drive-in across two states.
Thunderbird, a 14 screen drive-in.
Tri-Circle, an Autoscope drive-in.
Movie Manor, a drive-in, motel and fly-in.
Iaeger, the theater in the famous O. Winston Link photo
Shankweiler's, the oldest drive-in still in operation.

Work In Progress See links for drive-in maps and photos for across the country as I find them. -->Update Terraserver links corrected, here and throughout the site

Research tips for drive-in theaters.

External Links Other drive-in pages.

Acknowlegments/About this Web page

arthurallen (aT)
(Yes, I know how to make a mail link, but spammers know how they work too. Putting "Drive-in" in the subject line also reduces the chances that your messages will be deleted.)

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