Guest contributor Maggie Romanovich shares with us one of her family's favorite summertime activities: A trip to the drive-in. But many drive-in theaters stay open well into fall, and it actually gets a bit easier to take the kids once the sun starts setting earlier -- allowing the movies to start earlier, too.
For our family, summertime opens up an option for a super fun evening: Going to the drive-in! Visiting a drive-in theater became part of our family's tradition before my husband and I even married. Every year for my birthday, he’d surprise me with a road trip to a spot that had a minor league baseball team in proximity to a drive-in theater. Who knew there were so many within driving distance?
Once we had our daughter, we wanted to spend as much time together as a family, but we were out of the loop for any water cooler discussion that centered around movies. Enter Cascade Drive-In in West Chicago, located on North Avenue just east of Route 59.
Cascade Drive-In is the perfect place for a family evening. Let’s start with the cost. Cascade offers a double feature of newly released movies for $9 a person. If your kids are under 5, they are free. Children ages 5 through 11 are just $5, and pets are welcome. You can also bring your own food; there's a picnic area with grills. (You bring your own charcoal.) Or, you can visit the full-service concession stand, which offers corn dogs, pretzels, popcorn, nachos, sodas, etc. (Note that Cascade only accepts cash; no credit cards.)
Another fantastic benefit for families is the environment. You’re in your own car. You can control the volume of the movie. You can pop open the hatch of your SUV or van and snuggle up together. Your kids can talk to you without sassy looks from the grump in front of you. If you’re a new mom, pining to see the highly disappointing "Twilight" movie, you can nurse your baby in peace and roll up the windows should any wailing occur. Too hot or humid? Turn on the car for a quick burst of A/C. And on pleasant nights, plenty of families bring chairs from home to set up in front of their vehicles.
Often, the first movie of the double feature is a kid’s movie, followed by an adult flick. With the benefit of the late nights plus a double feature, your kids might doze off in time for you to catch the 2nd film without any guilt over Junior seeing a PG-13 movie.
The drive-in theaters we’ve visited are full of character. Most play the vintage pre-show and intermission clips (think Pic mosquito coils, acrobatic hot dogs & shuffling soda cups). You can listen to the audio through your radio or via the portable speakers wired into the posts next to your parking spot.
Visit www.drive-ins.com to search for drive-ins by state. Don’t forget our neighbors to the north and east too! Wisconsin and Indiana are great locations for quick overnight trips.
Now, let’s go to the movies!