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The 5 Best Drive-In Movie Theaters Near Minneapolis & St. Paul

best-drive-in-theater-minneapolis-st-paul

Pull up your car, flip on the radio, and prepare to get transported back to the days of yesteryear – at one of the many excellent drive in movie theaters near Minneapolis!

A trip to the “Drive Ins” is a fun and quirky activity that makes for a fantastic date night, a unique family outing, or just a wonderful change of pace.

At the peak of America’s drive in movie theater craze during the 1950s, Minnesota sported over 80 different drive in movie theaters. Today, that number’s been whittled down to less than 10.

Fortunately for us, two of those remaining drive in movie theaters sit right next to Minneapolis. And for those willing to drive… to the drive in… there’s a handful of other great options too.

Today’s article breaks down all your options for drive in theaters near the Twin Cities.

Map of Drive in Theaters near Minneapolis & St. Paul

1. Vali-Hi Drive-In (25 minutes from Minneapolis)

Update: Vali-Hi has been closed for the past few seasons. Rumor is that it’s been sold, but the city told Kare 11 that’s not true, and Vali-Hi hasn’t  made any official announcements. Here’s to holding out hope. 

Opened in 1966, Vali-Hi Drive-in is a seasonally operated, vehicle friendly movie theater located just 25 minutes east of downtown Minneapolis. (And barely 10 minutes east of St. Paul!)

Vali-Hi features one large screen and room for up to 800 cars in its big ole dirve-in lot. From there, guests tune into 90.1 FM to hear the show right through their car’s speakers! (A portable radio will work, too.)

Vali-Hi also includes a concession stand stocked with fresh, hot popcorn and all sorts of candy and snacks. There’s even a vintage arcade for the kids. (And the kids at heart…)

One of the coolest parts of Vali-Hi? Your $10 ticket buys you not one, not two, but THREE movies a night.

(Note that Vali-Hi is cash only. There is an ATM onsite.)

 

2. Elko Drive-In (35 minutes from Minneapolis)

Opened in 2014, Elko Drive-in is Minnesota’s newest drive in movie theater. Located in New Market, Minnesota, Elko is an easy drive south on 35W. From downtown Minneapolis to the movie screen takes about 35 minutes.

The Elko Drive-in is located in the Elko Race Track, home of destruction derbies and NASCAR races. The interesting part about that? On race nights, movies start 15-20 after the final race. For non-race nights, movies start after sunset and cost about $10.  (Kids tickets are just $5 and children under 3 are free.)

Elko’s Drive-In plays the latest kid-friendly blockbusters. For the grill masters, Elko is also unique in allowing tailgating and BBQs at their drive in theater.

 

3. Starlite Drive-In Theather (1 hour 20 minutes from Minneapolis)

Starlight Drive-In Theater first opened in 1955 in Wadena, MN. Since then, the theater’s had an on and off operation. It closed from 1981 to 1997, before opening in 1998 to a wonderful restoration and expansion.

The Drive In is now located in Litchfield, MN, a little over an hour from Minneapolis. They operate two screens seasonally – each of those screens shows a double feature, meaning your ticket allows you to watch 2 movies in a row. (Note that switching screens is prohibited, so make sure you pick your preferred package!)

Bonus points to this drive-in theater for allowing pets.

4. Stardust Drive-in (1 hour, 45 minutes from Minneapolis)

Stardust Drive-in is actually located in Wisconsin, but it’s still closer to the Twin Cities than many of Minnesota’s Drive-Ins.

Stardust opened in 2007 with a single screen and added a second screen in 2011. The theater operates seasonally.

One cool thing about that double screen setup? Stardust usually offers family friendly movies on one screen and rated “R” movies on the second screen. That makes Stardust one of the only options for people wanting to watch the scary and gory stuff.

(Note that this theater also does not allow “screen switching.”)

They also prohibit outside food and beverages, but no worries. They have a reasonably priced snack bar complete with popcorn, BBQ ribs, brats, funnel cakes, pizza, candy, and tons more concessions.

Stardust is another dog-friendly drive-in, so cool on them!

 

5. Long Drive In Theatre (2 hours from Minneapolis)

Looking for a road trip AND a movie?

Long Drive In Theatre is located in Long Prairie, Minnesota, which is just over 2 hours northwest from the Twin Cities.

Why is that noteworthy? Long Drive In is the only drive in theater near Minneapolis that allows camping!

Yep, Long Drive In now features tent and RV camping on the grounds. This makes for a pretty cool getaway idea. Make the drive from the cities, watch movies until late at night, and then once the show is over, crash for a night under the stars!

This single screen theater plays seasonally. Your ticket purchase includes a double feature – two movies for the price of one.

Note that outside food is not allowed, but they do have a full service fast food restaurant complete with candy and snacks.

 

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