Catch a flick (and a nostalgia fix) at these landmark drive-ins
It’s drive-in movie season, and for the first time since 1947, the Hi-Lite Drive-In in Aurora—the state’s oldest drive-in—won’t be open for business. A recent sale of the land, which had been leased by Nova Cinetech Inc., has left the fate of the nostalgic icon up to Aurora city officials, who are considering the new landowner’s plan to build 240 homes on the site (for updates and a petition, go to www.hilitedrivein.com).
In the 1950s, Illinois boasted more than 120 drive-in theaters. Today, only 12 remain. So pack up your ride and grab some friends—for the night or maybe a road trip—and head out to one of these remaining drive-ins.
Cascade Drive-In Movie Theater
1100 E North Ave, West Chicago (630-231-3150, www.cascadedrivein.com). $7.50, kids $3.50. 37 miles west of Chicago. Tune in your radio or in-car speakers at the Cascade. And pets are welcome, so load up and enjoy the show with your favorite ferret. Frequent visitors get a bonus card which earns a free carload admission after six visits.
McHenry Outdoor Theatre
1510 N Chapel Hill Rd, McHenry (815-385-0144, www.drive-ins.com/detail/iltmche). $6, kids $3. 54 miles northwest of Chicago. This theater, which opens Friday 19 for the season, has a charm all its own. Standing in the parking lot of this drive-in makes you feel like you time-warped back to the 1950s.
Route 34 Drive-In Theater
4468 E 12th Rd, Earlville (815-246-9700, www.rt34drivein.com). $7, ages 6–12 $4, 5 and under free; 87 miles west of Chicago. This theater still uses the speakers that hang inside the car window (you can also tune in with an FM radio). It serves Green River Soda from a fountain machine and drive-in treats like pizzas, salads and popcorn.
8 James B. Young Road, Galva (309-932-2919, www.galvaautovue.com). $5, ages 3–12 $3, 3 and under free. 170 miles southwest of Chicago. One of the newer drive-ins on the drive-in block, the Galva Autovue is the primary source for outside entertainment in this town of 2,800.
Litchfield SkyView Drive-In Theater
On Rte 66 North, Litchfield (217-324-4451, www.litchfieldskyview.com/SkyView/SkyViewMain.htm). $2, under 6 free. 230 miles southwest of Chicago. The prices here can’t be beat (though the gas might set you back). This drive-in is in great condition and boasts a big beautiful screen. The theater has an FM-radio broadcast, as well as some traditional drive-in speakers. This spot gets extra kitsch points for being right off the Mother Road.—Russell Sean
Call or check individual websites for movie schedules. For a complete list of drive-ins, visit www.driveinmovie.com.