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Mapping Michigan’s remaining drive-in theaters

Plan your next road trip with these eight drive-in movie theaters in Michigan

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For many people, drive-in theaters recall warm nights sitting under the stars while watching a bit of Hollywood magic. There’s good reason why people fall in love, get engaged, and bring their budding families there.

Of the approximately 130 drive-in theaters that once operated in Michigan, eight remain—a sign of the state’s devotion to automobiles, car culture, and the simple pleasures of being outside when the weather allows. These ozoners (another name for drive-ins) have every modern convenience: digital projectors, snack bars, modern restrooms, and, best of all, wide open spaces to run, play, and stroll until the sun sets and film begins. There’s also plenty of time for canoodling between double features.

These drive-in theaters generally show first-run movies. Only the Cherry Bowl in Honor limits its film selections to PG-13 and under; it seeks to be family-friendly by eliminating R-rated movies from its operations. You can bring pets to most of these theaters, but you may want to keep them on a leash as the crowds and noise can upset some sensitive dogs, cats, snakes, and racoons (yes, someone brought a racoon once to the Ford-Wyoming).

Here are Michigan’s eight official drive-in theaters, plus a highlight about each of them. The ultimate road trip would be to check out each one in a single summer—talk about bragging rights among movie aficionados.

Note: Theaters are arranged from north to south.

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Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theatre

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Much of the equipment at this Northern Michigan drive-in is original. While most ozoners have had to replenish their speakers from others, this Honor mainstay is nearly the same since it opened in 1953. There’s a mini-golf course and great Instagrammable spots, such as a giant chair, all-American rooster statue, and, of course, the marquee sign.

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Hi Way Drive Inn

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Perhaps the best thing about the Hi-Way is that the screen faces the road, allowing passing cars to get a glimpse of that evening’s show. The rural setting creates a serene feel to the theater, which opened in 1947. But the next-door fireworks stand will remind you that you’re in for some excitement when the movie is over as the owners occasionally provide a fireworks show.

Getty Drive-In

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Four screens of fun bring people into the Getty Drive-In, one of West Michigan’s favorite ozoners. Opening in 1944, the Loeks family have owned it for more than four decades, expanding it multiple times to make it comfortable for couples and families. It’s a great spot to bring a picnic, play at the playground, set up camp, and watch a double header.

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Feels like I went back in time ✨

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The New US 23 Drive-in Theater

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When the original owner passed away, a group of friends took over the U.S. 23, bringing this waning theater back to life. Built in 1952, the U.S. 23 is a summer tradition for the region. There are two screens at the drive-in so there’s always room for a few more cars to show up. 

Ford Wyoming Drive In

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This Dearborn drive-in in the granddaddy of them all in that it is one of the largest ozoners in the world with five screens. The original 1950 tower is an Art Deco/Moderne masterpiece that is showing its age but still reigns as one of the finest in the state. The restrooms recently were renovated as well, adding to the comfort of this only Metro Detroit drive-in.

Sunset Drive In Theater

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Put yourself in the backyard of your favorite friend’s house, and you’ll have an idea of the homey atmosphere of the Sunset. The screen, put up in 1948, backs up to a canopy of trees and open sky, creating a quiet zone where the movie and you are all that you can see. Plus, there’s a new Slushie machine.

Five Mile Drive in Movie Theater

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Midcentury modern fans will adore the 5 Mile, which was built in 1961 and still has all of the mod styling to show for it. Admission is a mere $15 per carload, meaning you can bring family and friends—you don’t have to try to stuff someone in the truck to save a buck. And, trust us, drive-in staff always know when someone is trying to sneak someone in.

Capri Drive-In Theater

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There are few better bargains than seeing a double feature at the Capri—every carload is only $25 on Tuesdays until the end of summer. This single-screen theater built in 1964 is cozy, easy to navigate, and features one of the best spots to see a sunset and a movie in mid-Michigan.

Courtesy of the Capri Drive-In Theatre

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Cherry Bowl Drive-In Theatre

Much of the equipment at this Northern Michigan drive-in is original. While most ozoners have had to replenish their speakers from others, this Honor mainstay is nearly the same since it opened in 1953. There’s a mini-golf course and great Instagrammable spots, such as a giant chair, all-American rooster statue, and, of course, the marquee sign.

A post shared by Dani (@consultingdr221) on

Hi Way Drive Inn

Perhaps the best thing about the Hi-Way is that the screen faces the road, allowing passing cars to get a glimpse of that evening’s show. The rural setting creates a serene feel to the theater, which opened in 1947. But the next-door fireworks stand will remind you that you’re in for some excitement when the movie is over as the owners occasionally provide a fireworks show.

Getty Drive-In

Four screens of fun bring people into the Getty Drive-In, one of West Michigan’s favorite ozoners. Opening in 1944, the Loeks family have owned it for more than four decades, expanding it multiple times to make it comfortable for couples and families. It’s a great spot to bring a picnic, play at the playground, set up camp, and watch a double header.

View this post on Instagram

Feels like I went back in time ✨

A post shared by R!+s3m@ F@\| 0n@ (@blueberryfarminggirl) on

The New US 23 Drive-in Theater

When the original owner passed away, a group of friends took over the U.S. 23, bringing this waning theater back to life. Built in 1952, the U.S. 23 is a summer tradition for the region. There are two screens at the drive-in so there’s always room for a few more cars to show up. 

Ford Wyoming Drive In

This Dearborn drive-in in the granddaddy of them all in that it is one of the largest ozoners in the world with five screens. The original 1950 tower is an Art Deco/Moderne masterpiece that is showing its age but still reigns as one of the finest in the state. The restrooms recently were renovated as well, adding to the comfort of this only Metro Detroit drive-in.

Sunset Drive In Theater

Put yourself in the backyard of your favorite friend’s house, and you’ll have an idea of the homey atmosphere of the Sunset. The screen, put up in 1948, backs up to a canopy of trees and open sky, creating a quiet zone where the movie and you are all that you can see. Plus, there’s a new Slushie machine.

Five Mile Drive in Movie Theater

Midcentury modern fans will adore the 5 Mile, which was built in 1961 and still has all of the mod styling to show for it. Admission is a mere $15 per carload, meaning you can bring family and friends—you don’t have to try to stuff someone in the truck to save a buck. And, trust us, drive-in staff always know when someone is trying to sneak someone in.

Capri Drive-In Theater

Courtesy of the Capri Drive-In Theatre

There are few better bargains than seeing a double feature at the Capri—every carload is only $25 on Tuesdays until the end of summer. This single-screen theater built in 1964 is cozy, easy to navigate, and features one of the best spots to see a sunset and a movie in mid-Michigan.

Courtesy of the Capri Drive-In Theatre