Stay near the car! Stay near the car! That was my mom’s mantra and we heard it over and over and over while images of dancing sodas, french fries and hot dogs played on the enormous screens over our heads. In my memory it’s more vivid than Danny Zucko’s hormonal spikes and Sandy in her poodle skirt from the movie Grease. Danny should have known better than to try what he did, Sandy was a good girl. It wasn’t just my parent’s voices. Everyone’s parents were shouting out commands to their kids as they darted in and out of the parked cars those long nights, first on Long Island and then here in the SF Valley. It wasn’t just here or there, it was universal. We were kids being kids.
Some might say these theaters were a fad since they came and most went. There were hundreds in the SoCal area at one time and more than 4,000 across the US. They now number only in the hundreds nationwide, but left an indelible mark on my time as a kid. Having such great memories, I was happy to hear one is coming back.
An old theater in the city of Paramount (once called the Roadium) is bringing sexy back this spring, it’s been flying under the radar as a swap meet since their screens went dark. But the projectors will soon roll again. Now they’re digital and instead of a squawky box hanging from your window it’s Dolby Digital through your car’s own stereo. It has just changed ownership and sources mention that a member of the original owner’s family is still involved. The LA Business Journal says that local developer Modern Development is planning to show second-run movies at discounted prices ($9 for adults, $3 for kids). They have two spanking new 75 foot screens and there’s talk of a smart phone app you can pop open to order food. It’s not exactly your mom and dad’s drive-in. I hope they get hi-HI-tech and deliver my nachos via drone helicopters directly to my car.
This isn’t the only Drive-In SoCal, here’s a list of what’s out there.
- Vineland Drive-in, 443 Vineland Ave, La Puente, (818) 961-9262
- Mission Drive-in, 10798 Romona Ave, Montclair, (909) 628-0019
- Harbor Drive-in, 32nd & D Ave, National City, (619) 477-1392
- Valley Drive-in, 3480 Mission Ave, Oceanside (619) 757-5556
- Fiesta 4 Drive-in, 8462 Whittier Blvd, Pico Rivera, (310) 948-3671
- Rubidoux Drive-in, Mission Blvd. & Opal, Riverside (909) 683-4455
- Van Buren Drive-in, 3035 Van Buren Blvd, Riverside (909) 688-2360
- South Bay Drive-in, 2170 Coronado Ave, San Diego (619) 423-9676
- Hi-Way Drive-in, 3085 Santa Maria Way, Santa Maria (805) 937-9715
- Santee Drive-in, 10990 Woodside Ave, Santee, (619) 448-7447, (619) 449-7927
If you know of others, let me know!
If you blink driving South between Moorpark Avenue and Ventura Blvd. you might have missed it, but Studio City has it’s own par 3 nine hole golf course. It’s been a big part of sporting life in Studio City for more than 50 years. There’s a 24 stall driving range and even on a busy Saturday afternoon I’ve never found it full. It’s a great place to get outside and hit something with a stick. I’ve driven balls there at 9pm in the rain (about half of the stalls are covered). It’s open until 11pm daily so you can put the kids down and come out for a bucket. There’s also a well maintained practice green to keep your short game on par.
This is a great place for smaller golfers to figure out how to swing a club. I love taking my 8 year old daughter to Weddington, whether it’s to hit a big bucket between us or go out and get some time in the tee box and on the fairways. The greens are very forgiving, so they’re not likely to surprise anyone and it’s a good place to teach. There’s even a coffee shop for you to grab a hot chocolate and coffee if there’s a chill in the air. They do burgers and have a counter where it’s fun to talk about the game with your little one after playing.
When it comes to getting a kid into golf, I’d suggest looking for used clubs at first. A new set can be pricey and if your kid doesn’t take to it, you don’t want to have spent a C Note on something that’s just going to take up room in your closet or garage. Trust me, it happens. You might look at the Salvation Army for a set that someone else’s kid grew out of or that just didn’t take to it. Or try the online Classifieds. Hit balls to get them used to being out there. Remember, for the most part this is an adult sport and you want your little human to be comfortable.
When you head out on the course, keep positive and remind them of course etiquette. Teach them to pay attention to their surroundings, golf can be dangerous. Let people play through if they look like fast movers, normally you might be but with your kid you’re not. And grab one of the carts for their clubs unless you want to end up carrying their bag as well as yours, it’s not heavy but it is inconvenient.
4141 Whitsett Ave
Studio City, CA 91604 Golf