Drive-ins are popping up all over the Bay Area

There are pandemic-era options for movie lovers who want to watch outdoors

By Amelia Williams

Bay City News Foundation

Anyone else catch the “Grease” sing-along on CBS this summer? The 1978 musical classic hasn’t, perhaps, aged the best in the 40-plus years since its release, but it invoked a nostalgia for something most Bay Area residents hadn’t seen much in the decades before the pandemic struck: a drive-in movie.

Even as San Francisco moved into the “orange” zone for businesses reopening, from hair salons to gyms to (limited) indoor dining, indoor movie theaters were only allowed to reopen earlier this month.

However, the National Association of Theatre Owners of California/Nevada announced that its members agreed to keep their theaters closed until the city of San Francisco loosens its COVID-19 restrictions.

Some indoor movie theaters have already reopened with limited capacity in Napa, Marin, Solano and San Mateo counties. Recently, the Regal Cinemas chain announced it will temporarily close all of its movie theaters across the United States.

But for those still too worried about catching COVID to attend an indoor movie, that’s OK. Find a Danny Zuko, or at least someone with a license and car, and mosey on over to one of the new theaters of yesteryear.

San Francisco

Pier 70

San Francisco is a city of collaboration. Pier 70 has teamed up with food-entrepreneur incubator La Cocina, as well as a slew of independent theaters including the Roxie, the Vogue and the Balboa to bring the city Dinner and a Drive-In.

Where: 20th and Illinois streets, S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Oct. 24 and Oct. 31

Tickets: $65 covers one vehicle and two meal servings



West Wind Drive-In Concord

While hundreds, even thousands, of businesses have closed in the Bay Area due to the pandemic, at least one has been revived. The Concord location of the West Wind Drive-In Movie Theater has reopened to bring back some affordable flicks, including Christopher Nolan’s new film “Tenet” and a double feature of “Halloween” (2018) and “Ouija” this weekend.

Where: 1611 Solano Way, Concord

When: Daily

Tickets: $8.50 per person general, $2 for ages 5-11, free for age 4 and under; on Tuesdays, tickets are $5.50 general

Contact:, (925) 825-1951, (925) 687-6445

Alameda County Fairgrounds

Despite canceling the 2020 county fair, the fairgrounds have plenty planned for the rest of the year, including Under the Stars Drive-In Movies with “Hairspray” (2007) screening Friday and “Mission: Impossible” screening Saturday.

Where: 4501 Pleasanton Ave, Pleasanton

When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays

Tickets: $35 parking

Contact:, (925) 426-7600


The New Parkway

It’s refreshing to watch a movie in a theater on a sofa. Or on a dining room chair, or even a beanbag. Such is the New Parkway’s way, and this flexibility is why it was able to adapt to outdoor screenings. It’s hosted some outdoor screenings nearby in Oakland’s Uptown District in August and September, and its theaters are available to book for private rentals. But it doesn’t plan to reopen to the public until a vaccine is available.

Where: 474 24th St., Oakland; outdoor screenings at Heist, 440 25th St., Oakland


Corte Madera

Lark Theater

Drive up to screenings of classics old and new are offered every weekend evening.

Where: North parking lot, Village at Corte Madera, 1557 Redwood Hwy., Corte Madera

When: 7 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays, 7 and 9:15 p.m. Saturdays

Tickets: $15-$35 per vehicle

Contact:, (415) 924-5111,

San Jose

Capitol Drive-In

The West Wind theater has a lineup of double-feature nights featuring some of the most harrowing Halloween films including “The Nun” and “The Rite.”

Where: 3630 Hillcap Ave., San Jose

When: Daily

Tickets: $8.50 per person general, $2 for ages 5-11, free for age 4 and under; on Tuesdays, tickets are $5.50 general

Contact:, (408) 226-2251 or (408) 226-2289

St. Helena

Cameo Cinema

The theater has partnered with local eatery Gott’s Roadside to create a family-friendly outdoor movie program.

Where: 933 Main St. (Highway 29), St. Helena

When: 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, through Nov. 1

Tickets: $35 per car

Contact:, (707) 963.9779

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