Night at the Drive-In


I went to the drive-in the other night. I’ve been going to the West Wind Sacramento 6 Drive-In, off Highway 50 at Bradshaw, at least once every summer for the past five years. I went with three other people, yet surprisingly, not one of them could recall the last time they had been.

To me, a visit (or two or three) to the drive-in is rite of passage for summer. We bring our chairs, some snacks and a warm sweatshirt in case the legendary Delta Breeze kicks in, and we enjoy watching a movie under the stars.

You can’t beat the price: $7 per person. (Kids get in for a $1 and those younger than 5 for free!) In addition, in most cases admission gets you two movies! (Though the challenge, really, is staying awake for the second feature.) Even the concessions seem cheaper than at traditional theaters. We paid $5.50 for a large tub of popcorn and it included a free refill. On a hot night, you might find someone out front of the concessions building selling old-fashioned snow cones. If that doesn’t scream “summer” I am not sure what does.

What’s the sound and picture quality like, you might ask? Here’s my take: You go to the drive-in mostly for the experience of going to the drive-in. You should be able to see the screen just fine and the sound—provided by tuning your radio to a specific frequency provided to you when you purchase your tickets—is good. However, I’d limit your movie choice to one where you don’t need to think too much or pay attention too closely. Movies I’ve seen and enjoyed at the drive-in throughout the year: Bridesmaids, Talladega Nights and Wedding Crashers. The drive-ins are not the place to watch The Artist or The King’s Speech, though I don’t think either movie played there. Well, maybe The King’s Speech, but probably not The Artist.

If you haven’t been in a while, I urge you to check it out. Get there early (45 minutes to an hour before showtime) to avoid the long line of cars. And even if you choose to bring all your own food and drink, make sure to go into the concessions stand. It’s a step back in time, and I mean that fondly.

What: West Wind Sacramento 6 Drive-In
Where: 9616 Oates Drive, Sacramento
When: Year-round, though let’s face it: Summer is the best time to go.
Cost: $7