hanging out at the drive-in

As a kid we were a mere twenty minutes away from the local drive-in theater and we only went once. I still remember the movies that were playing: the Princess Diaries and Pearl Harbor. Obviously, that was a very long time ago. The last couple of years I've written up "to do lists" for the summer and the drive-in has always been high on the list, but somehow I've neglected to go. Until this year!

It's only May, but I've already went twice and have plans to go every month until they close up shop. It's fun, inexpensive, and feels like a trip back in time. Below are some pictures from my last visit, as well as a few tips on when to go and what to bring. (p.s. we saw Captain America: Civil War and it was hard to tell what was going on because there was so many superheros on screen. Not a fan.)


The drive-in is located in Newton, Iowa, which is about forty minutes west of Des Moines. The gates open at 6:30 and the first movie starts at dusk (around 8:45.) So you pay $8 per person ($5 if you're 11 and under) and you get to see two whole movies! Great deal, right? Plus you can bring whatever snacks and beverages your heart desires. For seating, you can bring folding chairs or create a little living room in the back of your minivan like we did :)

The lines can get pretty long, so this time we left town early and arrived an hour and a half before they opened. Yes, that means when we arrived the movie was still four hours away, but there's a ton of grass and space to run around. So for the first two hours, we just ate Casey's pizza and played football with other people in line. 

The kids loved hanging out in the back of the minivan. Plus, there were a ton of kids around, so it made for easy friendships. While walking the boys to the restroom, I looked around at all the people hanging out and was reminded of that scene in Independence Day when all those people pitched tents at that Air Force base.

The crowds hanging out before the movie made the whole thing feel very communal...and it also kind of like we were the only survivors of some alien attack on the nation. Nerd alert! Moving on....

Once we were inside, it was more or less football, talking, and eating Sour Punch Straws.

Let me also add that the staff here is super nice. When it gets crowded, there are people directing traffic and I even saw them jump start someone's car after the movies ended. Speaking of car batteries dying: you don't turn your engine on, but you do turn the key enough to have your radio on so that you can tune into their station.. I've been twice and neither times did my car having issues starting.

I brought my brother with me, as well as my cousins and my friends, Ali and Brittany, who just moved here from Arizona. I felt like they needed to experience this in order to become proper Midwesterner's. They brought their nephews with them, too, so there were a lot of kids running around the first few hours (and asleep in the car later on.)

I'm glad Ali came because we was able to run around with all the kids while I sat down at ate my fill of candy. Friends are rad, right? One kid came up to him and asked are you a Youtuber? Still not sure what that means, but it made us all laugh.

We didn't end up staying for both movies (the first one ended at 11:00) but there's a handy intermission between films that made it easy to leave without causing a ruckus.

You'd think that watching a movie outside wouldn't feel very different from watching one indoors, but it's an entirely unique experience. At one point, I was just staring up at the stars and admiring the view. Everyone should experience this kind of thing once.

You can find out more about the drive-in at their website here. I really encourage you to go! And be sure to sign up for their newsletter because they email you every Monday about which movies are playing that coming weekend.