The Solano Drive-In in Concord, CA

Human Way

I recently shot the re-opened Solano Drive-In for Diablo Magazine. Solano Drive-In is in Concord and the only drive in with in 100 miles of San Francisco that I’m aware of.

My son Jack and I watched the latest Shrek movie here. It was really great. We had popcorn in the car and it was nice not to worry about him disturbing anyone while we watched the film.

I have such fond memories of drive-ins growing up. When I was really young my parents used to take me to the drive-in in Sunland California. It was torn down to make room for a K-Mart that now sits boarded up and abandoned as Home Depot fights to try and take over the space.

In high school I remember going to the Van Nuys drive-in. I’d never smoked cigarettes before and my friend Joe and I bought a pack of Marlboro reds and smoked 10 or so cigarettes each during the movie after which I promptly puked my guts out.

In college I used to go to the drive-in theater in Goleta. I used to take my college girlfriend and… well, we’ll just leave things there. Fond memories though.

It’s a shame to see so many of the drive-in movie theaters in California shut down over the past 30 years. As the land became more valuable and the megaplex movie theaters moved in they quickly were replaced. But there was something special about the drive-in theater. An experience that was so much more than just watching a film. Swingsets in front. The buzz and excitement as a community of cars would get together. Kids in the back of pickup trucks. The film starting as the sun was going down. Falling asleep after the first feature only to be carried to bed later that night by dad.

I don’t really go to the movie theater much anymore. It’s hard with kids and with so much competition for my entertainment, my movie theater days are less and less. But when Jack and I went to the Solano Drive-in we had a great time. Me and my son watching Shrek.

Here’s an article on the Solano Drive-In’s reopening from the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Solano Drive-In is at 1611 Solano Way, Concord. Call (925) 825-1951 or visit www.centurytheaters.com.

To get this shot I climbed up on top of the projection building at the Solano Drive in with a ladder and shot the screen as the movie started.

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5 Comments

  1. Hey Thomas,

    There is a Drive-In in Sacramento, which too used to belong to Century Theatres and is now owned by West Wind (http://www.westwindpublicmarkets.com/). Looks like they also bought the Drive-In in Concord. There is another one listed in San Jose as well…

    9616 Oates Dr
    Sacramento, CA 95827

    3630 Hillcap Ave
    San Jose, CA 95136

  2. nomar says:

    That’s right, Capitol Drive-In in San Jose and the Skyview Drive-In, Santa Cruz are still going strong!

  3. Glen says:

    The drive-in in Goleta remains but has been re-purposed as long-term airport parking. I think the screen is gone. An adjacent two screen hardtop was leveled (and I do mean leveled) last year. Its as if it never existed.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Are you allowed to climb up on top of the projection building?

  5. TranceMist says:

    Awesome photo, Thomas Hawk.