Road Trips: Pull up your car for a night at the movies

By Judy Harvey Chronicle Media

McHenry Outdoor Theater has been around for more than 70 years, adapting to the changing technology of the times. (Photo courtesy of McHenry Outdoor Theater)

Each summer, movie fans count on the release of the big summer blockbusters. Heading to the movie theater has been an escape from the afternoon heat, a family evening out or a favorite date night activity.

But COVID-19 has changed all of that as movie theater chains have been shut down for many months to help stop the spread of the disease.

All is not lost though for moviegoers. Drive-in theaters that sat vacant for years have reopened in some regions of the state, and communities are getting creative to offer popup outdoor movie nights.

Our Road Trips this week provides a look at where you can catch a summer evening at the movies.

The McHenry Outdoor Theater

1510 Chapel Hill Road


Box office opens no later than 6:30 p.m., however, once the lines at the entrance reach the road, the box office must open earlier in an effort to eliminate traffic congestion. Ticket as capacity is limited.

Tickets are sold at box office on a first-come, first-served basis. No online or prepurchased ticket sales.

Concessions offerings range from snacks to full meals. Only one vehicle will be allowed to park between Two speaker poles. This will allow for a social distancing space of approximately 12 to 16 feet.

In order to provide the best movie watching experience possible, there are multiple ways to listen to the movie. The theater offers radio checkouts with a valid photo ID for $5.

Chicago Drive-In Theater

7000 S Harlem Ave.


This is a new popup drive-in theater that operates in the parking lot at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview. There is room for 300 cars. It is open every night, with family movies every night starting at 8:30 p.m. and more adult films (R rated) running at the weekend (Friday and Saturday) midnight run times. Concessions and restrooms are available on-site. You must wear a face mask and follow social distancing.


Mistwood Golf Club

1700 Renwick Road



This golf club in west suburban Chicago is offering summer movie nights. Patrons must bring blankets or lawn chairs and observe social distancing guidelines. Popcorn and non-alcoholic beverages are included with ticket purchase.

Drive-in theaters offer concessions with everything from traditional movie popcorn to burgers and pizza. (Photo courtesy of Midway Drive-In)

Route 34 Drive-In Theatre

Just west of Earlville

(8 miles east of Mendota)


The theater has been open since 1954 and is located on ‘old’ Route 34. Go to I-39 and head either north or south depending on where you live.

The concession is a full menu. The Snack Bar also offers arcade games, a pool table and a jukebox of oldies

Open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through October. All movie nights begin with a cartoon and previews. The box office opens between 6:30 and 7 p.m. depending on the time of the year.


Cars line up to get into the Midway Drive-In in Dixon. (Photo courtesy of Midway Drive-in)

Midway Drive-in

91 Palmyra Road

Old Route 2

Located between Dixon and Sterling

The Midway is a classic drive-in theater. From the classic retro “spaceship” ticket booth, to the playground in front of the screen an evening at the Midway is like entering a time capsule to the 1950s.

The concession stand is closed until further notice.

Advance on-line purchase of movie tickets ( and one food permit for each vehicle is required


Route 66 Drive-in Theater

1700 Recreation Drive



The theater, located along historical Route 66, was remodeled and reopened in 2002. It features two screens that each show a double feature every night.

The theater is open seven nights a week through September and movies begin showing at dusk.

Route 66 Drive-In has adapted some changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The playground is closed. Guests are required to stay in their vehicles and park facing forward. Patrons must wear a mask when outside the vehicle.

Tickets will be pre-sold through the website and capacity will be at 50 percent.

Concessions will be ordered through an app.

Sky View Drive-In along old Route 66 in Litchfield is in its 70th year. (Photo courtesy of Sky View Drive-In)

Skyview Drive-In Movie Theater

5700 N Belt W



Opened in 1949, this outdoor cinema screens first-run Hollywood hits on Fridays and Saturdays.


Skyview Drive-In

1500 Historic Old Route 66



The Litchfield Sky View Drive-In is a Route 66 Hall of Fame member and is in its 70th year of operation. Litchfield Skyview is the last originally operating drive-in on Route 66 in Illinois. At the front of the property is a Wayside Exhibit.

The theater is open on Friday and Saturday evenings and every second Sunday. The season closes on Oct. 11. A car show is scheduled for Oct. 17. Some restrictions are in place to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.