Drive-in movie theaters were a childhood highlight of mine growing up in Detroit. The big screen, outdoor playground, and popcorn made for the perfect night. I still remember watching in awe “The Planet of the Apes.”
Although fewer in number, the great outdoor movie tradition is not obsolete.
The following are three locations where Metro Detroiters can still watch a double feature on a towering screen from the comfort of their own car.
Location: 10400 Ford Road, Dearborn MI
Hours: Open 7 Days a week
Ford Drive-In is America’s largest drive-in theater and boasts five screens.
Steeped in history, the venue first opened in 1950, and is the only surviving Detroit-area drive-in from my childhood.
In the late ’70s and early ’80s, my friends and I would pile into the car for a night of cheesy horror with films such as “The Brood” and “Humanoids from the Deep.”
Located in Dearborn, the theater is open every day of the week and shows double-features of first run films.
A snack bar is onsite offering popcorn, candy, and other concession items.
Parking is available for 2,500 cars and if you want to go in the winter, there’s no excuse, as in-car heaters are available.
Compuware Arena Drive-In
Location: 14900 Beck Road, Plymouth MI
Hours: Open 7 Days a week between Memorial Day and Labor Day
Tickets: Adults 13 + $10, Children 4-12 $8, Children Under 3 Free
The Compuware Arena Drive-In is a newer venue and part of the Compuware Arena, which hosts the Plymouth Whalers, a junior ice hockey team.
Built in 1996, the arena’s parking lot is turned into a drive-in theater in the summer months. Many of the patrons are fans of the hockey team and appreciate the family-oriented drive-in.
The venue has three screens showing first-run, double-feature movies. Gates open at 7:30 p.m. and the movies start at dusk.
The sound is available through FM radio in your car, or by bringing a battery powered FM radio.
On-site is CJ’s Brewing Company, a full-service restaurant, but traditional concession fare is also available.
The theater bills itself as all ages, and management’s concern for safety may be seen on the website rules and regulations page.
The Cherry Bowl Drive-In
Location: 9812 Honor Highway, Honor, MI (West of Town)
Ticket Prices: Adults 12 + $8.50, Children Free
The Cherry Bowl Drive-In, although outside the metro Detroit area, should not be overlooked, as many Metro Detroiters visit Northern Michigan during the summer.
A throwback to the 50s, the theater is about a four-hour drive from Detroit, and serves vacationers along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
Opened in 1953, the Cherry Bowl Drive-In provides family entertainment including a mini golf course, volleyball net, and playground. Families are encouraged to arrive early to enjoy the activities.
In addition to a concession stand, there is a diner so families can eat before the movie.
The Cherry Bowl shows double features on a single screen during the spring and summer. The movies are family-friendly and G, PG, and some PG -13.