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  • Writer's pictureGrant Guy

Santee Drive-In





Sitting on 13 acres in the back blocks of San Diego, under the glow of a fabulous neon sign, lies the still operational Santee Drive-In.


We visited on a warm summer night, and a million childhood drive in memories came flooding back, as people guided their cars up the slight grade of their chosen spot, washing out the screen with their headlights, before settling down to watch the movie with the soundtrack echoing across the lot. Sadly, the speakers on poles beside each car are long gone, but everything else here remains delightfully retro.


The Santee Drive in was opened in 1958 with a 50 x 100-foot screen that the owners made themselves and 1060 car spaces for patrons.


In 1972 they split the lot in to 2, adding a second screen, new restrooms and a snack bar. Theatre one is the original lot and screen, now with 700 car spaces, and theatre two has a smaller screen measure measuring 30 x 70 feet, with 360 car spaces.


Drive-In movies sadly are a dying breed - if you get the chance to visit one, enjoy it while you can.

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Southern California #145 -last visited August 2023

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