If you’ve never experienced watching a movie at a drive-in, or if you want to recapture the drive-in fun, Valparaiso, Indiana is home to the 49er, a place that has been named one of the Top 10 drive-ins in the country. Plan a visit, take the trip, and you will see why.
The 49er Drive-In Theatre still shows a double feature each night, still serves up great snacks in the concession stand and still has a yard for kids of all ages to run around in before the movie. And there’s still time in the season to enjoy the drive-in experience.
The 49er Drive-in Theatre in Valparaiso, Indiana
One of the best memories from Steve Cotton’s childhood is when his dad would come home from work and say, “Let’s load up the car. We’re going to the drive-in.” Cotton is keeping the drive-in theater experience alive for today’s kids, and people of all ages. It’s a story that so many people can easily identify with.
For so many Hoosiers, and beyond, warm summer nights meant a night at the area drive-in. Everyone grabbed a blanket and headed to the car of truck. The youngest family members always fell asleep. Does this sound like your family’s story, too?
He and his brother own this unique Porter County attraction. The 49er is one of only about 350 drive-ins left in the country, down from the 4,000 or so that existed during the drive-in heyday of the late 1950s.
Cotton, his wife, his brother and a dedicated staff make sure the show goes on seven nights a week during the summer, and on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the spring and fall.
Drive-In Theater Fun
The only remaining one of its kind in the region, the 49er shows first-run movies. You can understand how it has remained a Valparaiso favorite.
Operating season: Generally open weekends during Apr, May, Sep and Oct. Open 7 days a week from Memorial Day weekend until school starts (usually 3rd week in Aug). Call ahead for movies and show times.
Bring cash to this one. There is an ATM on site but, to avoid unnecessary fees, just bring along some cash for concessions and your entry fee. Get there with time to spare. They do actually get so busy that they run out of room. The lines for food and the bathrooms can get long, so try to time everything just right.
Kids like to bring balls and Frisbees. You’ll usually find them on the grassy area underneath the big screen.
Please, share your big screen memories in the comments section below.
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