Alert: Showtimes currently around 5:55 pm but always check the website as they change with the seasons
We love to pile the family into our minivan and head out to the drive-in movies in Concord at the Solano West Wind. Yes, it's a haul, but also a ton of fun. Though I think of outdoor movies as a summer thing, it gets dark so late in the warm months that I'd never actually taken my kids. (We abide by consistently early bedtimes in my house.) During the dark months, shows begin around 5:30 pm so it is really the perfect time to go.
Notes from a family visit to drive-in movies in Concord
The kids loved sitting in the car huddled under a blanket wearing pajamas watching a movie screen OUTSIDE. The six-year old sat in his booster and the four-year old was on the seat beside him. The baby was passed from adult lap to adult lap and his cries didn't bother the other moviegoers. I was so excited to share one of my fun teenage memories with a minivan full of children and the experience did not disappoint. The price for a whole family is a pretty good deal, too.
What you need to know about the West Wind drive-in movies
Check the website for opening times. On weekend evenings, the box office opens 45 minutes before. Other days, it opens at 5:30. Come early to give yourself time to park and grab food at the concession stand. There is also a playground that looked decent. Since I had already stuck my kids in pajamas before venturing out, I didn't let them play (mean mom, I know!). We did, however, indulge in all manner of junk food at the snack bar. Hot dogs, nachos, ice cream, technicolor slushies, candy, and huge buckets of popcorn (with free refills!) are available.
The lot is ridged so that every car points slightly upward toward the screen allowing for good views all around. Many other families parked backward and sat in lawn chairs or in their SUV trunks with blankets.
The movie audio runs through your FM radio so you'll need to have one. One lesson learned the hard way: turn your engine on every 30 minutes or so to prevent a dead battery. They do have a jump-kit in the main office if you need one. And we did.
Next time, I would probably pack a picnic dinner and build in time to let the kids run and play at the playground before putting them in their jammies for the movie. And I would turn on my ignition a few times…
[Pictures of a drive-in movie theater are surprisingly hard to take. photo courtesy of thomas hawk via flickr]