Santa Monica Drive-In at the Pier

— by Caroline on Crack

Santa Monica Drive-In at the Pier
(Graphics by

Remember drive-in movies? You’d sneak your friends in the trunk and pretty much have tailgating parties. And it was the only venue where you could talk during the movie and drink booze and bring your own food.

Since drive-in movie theaters are considered archaic in this day and age of the super-theater, I was really excited when places all over L.A. started showing movies outside. They may not allow cars now, but watching movies outside still has its charms. Universal CityWalk does it, so does the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. But closer to my home is the Santa Monica Drive-In at the Pier.

Every Tuesday during the last days of summer (usually starting in August), the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corporation screens old movies, ranging from classics like Casablanca to contemporary comedies like The Princess Bride. And it’s free! You just have to pick up your tickets before the show though. The screenings take place outside on the parking lot on the far south side of the pier, west of the carousel and east of the Amusement Park (at the same site as the Twilight Dance Series). Doors open at 7pm and get there early to claim a good spot.

The thing is that you have to bring your own seat–blankets, folding chairs, inflatable rafts. (I suggest a chair with a back though as it gets tiring sitting upright throughout a whole movie.) Or you can rent a chair for $5 at the Pier (proceeds go to the Cancer Relief Fund). Also since it gets cold over the water, bring a thick jacket, hat, sweater….you’re going to be sitting outside and lately we haven’t really had balmy nights in SM. No alcohol is allowed since this is considered a family event but refreshments are sold. I recommend the kettle corn!

Unfortunately, since summer’s over there are only a few shows left:

September 13 — TOP GUN

September 20 — SIXTEEN CANDLES

September 27 — CASABLANCA

200 Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 458-8900