Earlier this year the sun set on Mission Tiki Drive-In, which had become our regular drive-in since moving to California. Thankfully we live near a few others, and recently Patrick and I went to the Van Buren Drive-in in Riverside to see Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.
Named after the street it is located on, the Van Buren Drive-In opened in 1964 with a single screen. Just a little over ten years later, in 1975, it added two more screens. While I haven’t seen it in action, I love the bit on the side of the marquee noting if any of the screens are full.
Riverside is rich in citrus history, in fact it is home to one of the two first Navel orange trees to arrive in California and the amazing Citrus State Historic Park. So it only makes sense that the land the Van Buren sits on was once an orange grove. In 2007 the drive-in underwent a remodel and drew inspiration from that history. A massive mural was painted on the original screen, which has sadly faded and has not been repainted since it looks like, and the snack bar was revamped both inside and out. The interior features enlarged citrus crate labels and historic photographs of not just the Van Buren, but other drive-ins and cinemas of the area.
I visited the Van Buren back in 2004 during a road trip to California, and was able to step inside briefly to take some photos, so if you want a look at what it looked like prior to the 2007 revamp, you can see them here, among other photos taken by 16 year old me.
See a movie under the stars at the Van Buren Drive-In at 2035 Van Buren Boulevard in Riverside. Learn more including showtimes, policies, and information on their daytime swap meet on their website.