There's no better way to embrace summer than watching a movie outside beneath a starry sky. Home to four drive-in theatres along with a variety of outdoor movie events, Iowa offers plenty of opportunities to do so.
Since opening for business in 1948, the Valle Drive-In in Newton is the oldest of its kind in Iowa and continues to offer one of the most authentic drive-in experiences. Combining history and a modern-day viewing experience, guests can enjoy old-fashioned quirks such as the theater's original neon sign and teasers shown prior to the movie as well as double feature tasty treats from the Snack Shack. Dogs are allowed as long as they are on a leash while outside the vehicle.
One of the newest drive-ins in the country, the Blue Grass theater was opened in 2014 by owners who had run several drive-ins in the past and decided to bring the experience to the Quad Cities. Along with a giant cube and two elevated screens that show a double feature, guests can also enjoy an 18-hole mini golf course. For special occasions, be sure to inquire about the theater's group packages and birthday specials.
Built on a former farm field in 2008, Superior 71 Drive-In originally opened as a single-screen drive-in before adding a second screen in 2019. Now, the Spirit Lake theater shows double features throughout the summer, seven nights a week.
Despite being the smallest of Iowa's drive-in theaters and one of the smallest in the country, the Highway 61 theatre has operated every year since opening in 1950. The Delmar theater has since helped the outdoor film industry make great leaps as one of the first drive-ins in the Midwest to switch to digital projection. Today, the theatre is open from spring to the fall, offering double features under a summer sky.
Outdoor Movie Events
This free, family-friendly event in Granger's Centennial Park begins at sunset on nights that the weather permits. Guests are encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs for the most comfortable experience. Be sure to check the Granger Parks & Rec Facebook page for Movies in the Park announcements and updates.
This Ankeny event invites guests to enjoy a single showing every Friday from mid-June to end of July. Each Movies Under the Stars showing is free and family-friendly, though space is limited to 64 groups on a first come, first serve basis.
This vibrant event invites guests to enjoy a feature film every Wednesday and Friday night in Council Bluff's Bayliss Park. Guests can enjoy food from local food trucks and restaurants prior to each showing. Movies in the Park encourages guests to bring lawn chairs and blankets.
Summer of the Arts offers this Free Movie Series every Saturday, July 4 through August 29. Though the showings are normally held on the University of Iowa Pentacrest, 2020's event is being held at the Iowa City Municipal Airport. Cars must register for each event, which includes special entertainment prior to the film starting after sundown.
Enjoy an outdoor movie every Wednesday night on the Preservation Plaza at Arnold's Park. This event is free and encouages guests to bring blankets and lawn chairs. Each showing begins around 9:15 p.m.
Enjoy a night under the stars with Cedar Falls' Movies Under The Moon event. Though normally held at Overman Park, this year's event is held on the University of Northern Iowa campus. Guests are required to reserve tickets, though the event is still free. Popcorn, sodas and an assortment of snacks are available for purchase throughout the night.
This new, pop-up drive-in in the parking lot of NorthPark Mall in Davenport shows a double feature every Friday and Saturday night. It opens at 7:30 p.m. and admission is $20 per car with a 50-car capacity. Guests can also enjoy the concession stand and vote for upcoming movie selection on the event's Facebook page.
The Waterloo Center for the Arts hosts a free summer film series June through August -- an event known as Cinema on the Cedar. This movie event features a variety of films from Encanto to The Lion King and is located alongside the Cedar River at the RiverLoop Amphitheatre. Restrooms and concessions are available at each showing.