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Drive-In Movie Theaters Around Seattle and Puget Sound

One family’s night out and Puget Sound-area drive-in movie theaters

Nikki McCoy

Published on: July 24, 2023

view of cars parked at a drive-in at sunset
Skyline Drive-In Theater in Shelton, Wash. Credit: Nikki McCoy

I’d never seen my van so full of pillows and blankets. I was pretty sure there was even a bean bag chair somewhere in the back. No, we weren’t going camping. My family was instead packed up for a cozy night at the Skyline Drive-In Theater in Shelton.

For a not-too-big outlay of cash, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity for the old-school summer fun of watching a drive-in movie. Plus, it meant a night of fun with the whole family, always a special treat.

Read on for our Skyline experience and then find a list of drive-in movie theaters (and pop-up opportunities) around the sound.

Getting your tickets

For the Skyline, book your tickets online, in advance and pay per person in your car. It’s $8 for ages 12 and older; $3 for kids 6–11; and free for ages 5 and younger. (Click on the Now Showing or Coming Soon links on the website to find date-specific ticket links.) Follow Skyline’s Facebook page for movie selections and buy tickets early.

Arriving and parking at the drive-in

At the entrance, show your ticket on your phone. Gates open at 7 or 8 p.m. (check the time when you purchase tickets online) and movies start at dusk, which is closer to 9 p.m. these days. Employees direct guests to park in different locations according to vehicle size. If you’re planning to meet up with another family, make sure you have similar-sized vehicles to be able to park next to each other. We met our friends at a nearby gas station and caravanned into the lot. We also made sure to arrive early so we’d have lots of time to visit and settle in before showtime.

Each showing at the Skyline is a double feature. We watched “The Goonies” — an ’80s movie classic.

parking next to friends at Shelton, Washington’s Skyline drive in movie theater summer 2020
Parking next to friends at Shelton’s Skyline Drive-In Theater. Credit: Nikki McCoy

The drive-in experience

We parked our van with the rear gate facing the screen so we could relax with the aforementioned pillows, blankets and bean bag chair. We found that having our car doors and windows open was a great way to socialize and enjoy the summer evening. Some folks sit in their truck beds; others just sit in the driver and passenger seats of their car.

Don’t miss a trip to the snack bar. Snacks and food are the main source of revenue for the theater, so we recommend stocking up (and note that no outside food or drink is allowed). Our carloads sent the dads in for provisions, and they returned with armloads of popcorn, pretzels and drinks.

Once dusk settles in and the movie is about to start, tune your car radio to 89.1 FM. If your car doesn’t have an FM receiver, you can rent one from the snack bar. And if you happen to accidentally drain your car battery, helpful staff members are onsite with portable battery jumpers if needed.

Skyline Drive-In Movie Theater showing The Goonies summer fun for seattle area families
Watching the movie at the Skyline Drive-In. Credit: Nikki McCoy

Heading home

Cars can leave anytime during a movie or at the intermission. If you do stay for the second feature, plan for a 2 a.m. drive home. Skyline also does a Sunday Switch, with the screening order of the double feature reversed. This makes it possible to see each half of the double feature without the 2 a.m. finish time. The Skyline season opens in spring with weekend showings only, then by summer movies will show 7 nights a week. Check out the Skyline’s Coming Soon page to plan ahead.

The Skyline experience was great for our family, and brought us together for a meet-up with friends. And now, much to my heart’s delight, the Goonies’ catchphrase “Hey, you guuuuuuys” is now a common refrain in our household.

Drive-in movie theaters around Seattle and Western Washington

  • Skyline Drive-In Theater in Shelton (experience described above) suits South Sound families. It’s about 25 minutes from Olympia and 50 minutes from Tacoma. Order tickets ahead of time online; they sell fast.
  • Blue Fox Drive-In Theater in Oak Harbor incorporates all the nostalgia of drive-in movies, including an awesome snack bar. This theater charges per person between $1–$7, but children ages 4 and younger are free.
  • Rodeo Drive-In Theatre in Bremerton offers a mix of movies, mainly for a PG-13 and older audience. Tickets run $7–$12, kids ages 4 and younger are free. You can order food from your car, or ahead of time through the website.
  • Wheel-In Motor Movie in Port Townsend has all the amenities of the other drive-ins, including real food such as hamburgers, hot dogs and nachos. Teen and adult tickets cost $10; it’s $8 for seniors and kids ages 12 and younger; free for ages 5 and younger.

Seattle-area outdoor movies for summer 2023

  • Marymoor Park in Redmond plays host to outdoor movie screenings Wednesdays and an occasional Thursday this summer. Book your tickets online in advance.
  • Bellevue Downtown Park has free movies through the summer on Tuesday evenings. Movies are all rated PG, and are preceded by entertainment starting at 7 p.m.
  • Friday Night Flicks is a series of family movies shown throughout the summer at parks in Auburn. Check the website for locations, time and featured movie.
  • Movies at the Mural shows free outdoor movies at Mural Amphitheater Lawn at Seattle Center. Movies begin at dusk Fridays in July and August. See the event website for more detail and the 2023 lineup.
  • Sail-In-Cinema is the only waterfront movie series in Snohomish County. This series offers free family movies on Friday nights from mid-July to August. Check the website for schedule.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2020 and just updated for 2023.

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