Los Angeles

8 Drive-In Movie Theaters In and Around Los Angeles

Catch a flick the socially-distant way.

Street Food Cinema
Street Food Cinema
Street Food Cinema

Drive-in theaters used to be a fabled relic of the past we knew (ironically) only from movies, where poodle-skirt-and-varsity-jacket-wearing teens from the ‘50s (and also John Travolta) would make out in convertible Thunderbirds under starry skies. By the time most of us got to our teenage years, drive-ins had gone the way of pay phones and cafeteria soda, and we were left crowding into multiplexes, fighting over the cup holder with a stranger under the breeze of recirculated A/C. Until COVID-19, that is. 

Now, the drive-in is making a comeback as a socially-distanced way to catch a movie without catching Corona. Around LA, shuttered drive-ins have re-emerged, temporary venues have popped up, and an existing drive-in or two outside of city limits are suddenly on our radar thanks to the pandemic. You can read up on the policies for each spot on their respective websites, but know that all are following government regulations on social distancing and enforce the use of masks when you’re outside of your vehicle, and most require an FM radio to get audio. (It’s the thing on your dashboard you’ve never used before.) Read on for where you can watch a movie through your windshield, from Malibu to the IE.

Roadium

Torrance
This giant, outdoor South Bay swap-meet spot started morphing into a retro ‘50s-themed theater earlier this summer on Friday and Saturday nights, screening a single favorite film each evening — from School of Rock to Grease. You can grab tix ahead of time on Eventbrite, or on site the night of the movie. And since you pay by the carload ($25 per vehicle), you won’t have to worry about hiding any friends in the trunk. 

The Drive-In at Hotel Figueroa 

Downtown 
The historic hotel just launched a new pop-up drive-in-with-a-twist in its adjacent parking lot on Saturday nights. Presented by Women Under the Influence (WUTI), an org focused on promoting women-directed films, The Drive-In will feature movies that celebrate stories created by women, BIPOC, and members of the LGBTQ community with all ticket revenues donated to nonprofits. Tickets are $40 per car no matter the number of passengers hitching a ride with you and can be purchased ahead of time. Bonus: Moviegoers can order Mexican fare like street tacos and squash blossom quesadillas from the hotel’s onsite eatery Veranda Al Fresco via app.

Street Food Cinema
Street Food Cinema
Street Food Cinema

Street Food Cinema 

Various 
The summer outdoor movie series pivoted (which happens to be the MVP word of 2020) to a drive-in-only offering this year to keep up with the times, offering flicks at the Americana at Brand in Glendale, Malibu’s King Gillette Ranch, and Brandeis Bardin Campus in Simi Valley in addition to venues in Ontario the OC. Look for a heavy rotation of ‘80s and ‘90s hits including upcoming screenings of The Breakfast Club, Love and Basketball, and The Big Lebowski. SFC brings in a serious lineup of food trucks, too, which you can check out online, and order ahead of time or when you get there. (Tickets, however, must be purchased in advance via the site.) To get in, you’ll have to pay between $20 to $35 per car depending on the venue plus $8 per passenger.

Parking Lot Cinema

Glendale
The collaboration between Secret Movie Club and Electric Dusk Drive-In is now screening double features on an inflatable screen every weekend – and the crew just kicked off the series with a killer John Hughes-themed weekend. While they may start mixing up the location, they’re staying put at Glendale Sears parking lot for now. There are lots of different ticket packages available to buy online (including first-row VIP) ranging from $23 to $100 and you can pre-order popcorn, candy, and beverages as well.

Paramount Drive-In Theatres
Paramount Drive-In Theatres
Paramount Drive-In Theatres

Paramount Drive-In Theatres

Paramount
The old-school drive-in near Long Beach that first opened in the ‘40s before shuttering in the early ‘90s, reemerged with two new 75-foot screens several years back and has been quietly showing both first-run films and older faves (Goonies is currently on the sked) ever since. The no-frills theater offers a snack bar and tickets are available on site ($10 for adults, $3.50 for kids) on a first-come, first-serve basis, just like the old days. 
Distance from Downtown LA: 17 minutes

Vineland Drive-In

City of Industry
This four-screen drive-in is open every night of the week, screening four different movies twice in a row (usually around 8:30pm and again at 11pm) each evening. The concession stand is currently closed, so it’s a good time to brush up on your popcorn-popping skills at home and dig into that Costco-size stash of candy you still haven’t gotten through. Tickets (which you buy when you get there) are $10 for adults and $4 for kids.
Distance from Downtown LA: 20 minutes

Mission Tiki Drive-In Theatre

Montclair 
While it was announced that the 70-year-old drive-in (that got a facelift a little over a decade ago) was sold in 2019 and would close in 2020, COVID has given the place a reason to stay open. The kitschy-themed theater – with its thatch-roof ticket booths and Polynesian statue garden – is now showing both current, classic, and cult flicks on two screens seven nights a week. Tickets are $10 for adults and $1 for kids and give you access to both of that night’s movies, currently starting around 8:30pm and 10:30pm. You can BYO food and drink or hit up the snack bar for popcorn, candy, and carne asada nachos. 
Distance from Downtown LA: 37 minutes 

Van Buren Drive-In

Riverside
Expect pretty much the same experience at this other Inland Empire drive-in, run by the same crew as Mission Tiki, other than the whole tiki part, which has been replaced by an “Old California” theme. That means the same movies, pricing, double-feature perk and even those signature nachos. 
Distance from Downtown LA: 54 minutes Sign up here for our daily LA email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun Los Angeles has to offer.

Lizbeth Scordo is a contributor for Thrillist. 

Los Angeles

How to Spend a Weekend in Topanga Canyon

Nature and the arts collide in this beloved canyon community.

Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images
Hanan Isachar/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images

Situated in the Santa Monica Mountains and known for its vibrant creative community, Topanga is one of Los Angeles’s most prized destinations for art and outdoor enthusiasts alike. And while LA boasts its own sprawling landscape of fun to tap into, you’d be remiss to miss a chance to explore this tucked-away collection of state parks, and cafes, and restaurants-especially when it all rests just 20 minutes away from the city. From a quaint caf√© with dazzling canyon views to a world-renowned, open-air theatre, here are the best ways to pass some time in Topanga now.

Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray
Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray
Photo courtesy of Inn of the Seventh Ray

Friday

Book dinner at Inn of the Seventh Ray
Owner Lucille Yaney opened this iconic restaurant in 1975 after spotting the property on a drive through the canyon with her late husband Ralph, and it’s safe to say she had a good eye. The land perfectly fits into Yaney’s vision of a romantic, alfresco dining space with tables tucked into cozy nooks and gazebos, all beneath canapes and fairy lights. Today, Yaney co-owns the venue with executive chef consultant Brad Miller. Together, they continue to fulfil the restaurant’s original mission to serve pure, natural foods reflective of the season’s best. That approach appears in dishes like 8-Hour Black Vinegar Braised Short Rib with creamy rosemary polenta, duck bacon Brussels sprouts, and caramelized onion and fig jam; Roasted Mushroom Toast with oyster mushrooms and sherry tarragon cream; and Beets & Whipped Black Pepper Creme Fraiche. Consider the carbs here. Pastas and sauces are made in-house and from scratch, as is the bread (available regular or gluten-free), an order of which you won’t want to miss. Check out the wine list, too, which offers a robust organic and biodynamic selection that has helped the restaurant garner some impressive accolades in recent years.

Check into Topanga Canyon Inn
In addition to plenty of excellent Airbnbs available to rent in the Canyon, there’s Topanga Canyon Inn, a charming bed and breakfast comprised of two Mediterranean-style buildings-Casa Blanca and Casa Rosa-both built by the owners. Guests can enjoy bespoke design details in each room, along with gorgeous mountain views from their own private balcony. Come morning, join other travellers for breakfast, served daily at Casa Rosa.

Saturday

Get coffee at Café on 27
Ready your camera for a coffee date at this AM eatery and caf√©, where ample (and busy) outdoor seating offers some of the Canyon’s best views. A full breakfast and lunch menu is available (complete with hearty orders like eggs Benedicts, soups, and club sandwiches), but for lighter morning fare, spring for a pastry and any of their specialty drinks, such as the turmeric latte or Moroccan mocha.

Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock
Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock
Bradley Allen Murrell/Shutterstock

Hike Topanga State Park
Spanning 11,000 acres and 36 miles of trails, Topanga State Park is the largest state park within the Santa Monica Mountains and one of the world’s largest parks within city limits. Visitors can access the grounds via more than 60 entrances. Once on the trails, enjoy sweeping vistas while exploring the region’s range of plants, habitats, and wildlife, including several resident bird species.

Grab lunch at Topanga Living Café
Guided by their Topanga upbringing and need for a community gathering spot with great eats, sibling team Agustina Ferguson and Bayu Suryawan opened this daytime eatery in 2016. Ever since, locals and visitors have found refuge in the caf√©’s warm, airy space and nourishing, hyper-fresh fare-all California-inspired with global influences. Check it out in plates like the Island Style, a breakfast salad with Balinese corn fritters, a poached egg, and house-made chilli jam, or the tacos (Baja Fish or Baja Shrimp, Carne Asada, or Kabocha Squash), made-to-order and served on handmade tortillas. If you’re seeking something shareable, try the Farmers Market Crudite, a seemingly humble order whose bright beet hummus reminds us that eating your vegetables is, indeed, very cool. And take a drink to-go. The team here takes great pride in their coffee (organic espresso, courtesy of their iconic pink La Marzocco machine) and a lineup of made-to-order smoothies, juices, and teas. Shop your way through town
Visitors can stroll through the town centre’s most popular shops for various fun finds, including Moona Star, Pebbles, and Topanga Homegrown. Be sure to stock up on specialty, local snacks at Canyon Gourmet and satiate your sweet tooth while you’re at it. The organic soft-serve there is a must. Pro tip: Top it with any of their artisanal syrups for a winning combo, namely, the vanilla with cardamom.

Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
Photo courtesy of Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum

Catch a show at The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
This beloved open-air theatre has hosted productions for decades and is recognized worldwide for its Shakespeare interpretations. In addition to its annual summer season, which includes works like Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the venue hosts concerts, rehearsals, and classes throughout the year for budding actors and playwrights of all ages.

Snag a slice at Endless Colour
This family-run pizza joint specializes in from-scratch pies with clever topping combinations (think purple potatoes, fontina, and truffle oil in the Purple Molly Potato or spinach, leeks, and goat cheese in the Super Greens). Bring some friends, order a pie or two, and check out the drinks list, which includes offbeat options like orange wines and hard kombucha.

Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery
Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery
Photo courtesy of The Canyon Bakery

Sunday

Check out The Canyon Bakery’s “Sunday Funday”
Situated on the grounds of the aforementioned Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, this bakery specializes in naturally leavened breads, pastries, cakes, and cookies using locally sourced, whole grain flours. There’s a takeout window on Sundays, from 9:30 am until the bakery sells out. A strong following lines up for favourites, such as whole grain croissants and gluten-free pizza, so be sure to arrive early to get your fill.

Try tacos to-go at La Chingona
On your way out of town, grab some tacos at La Chingona, where a team puts forth fresh, organic, gluten- and dairy-free tacos. Orders range to include options like grass-fed beef (carne asada), shrimp (wild-caught), and soy chorizo and can be fashioned into plates beyond tacos, too (think tostadas, salads, and bowls). Open only on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays; this taco stand sees good demand. Plan accordingly, pending your travels, especially to savour an order or two of the churros.

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Nicole Schnitzler is a contributor for Thrillist.

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