If you are taking a trip to Flint Michigan, you probably have an extensive itinerary of things to do and see. One of the most interesting, though, is the US 23 Drive-In Theater, a historic drive-in that remains one of the oldest and most popular drive-in movie theaters in Michigan.
Continually operating since 1951, the movie theater is still an unmissable destination in the Flint area. Check out our guide to this unique movie drive-in and other nearby attractions.
About the US 23 Drive-In Theater
The US 23 Drive-In Theater is located in Flint Michigan, where it has been showing films for more than 70 years. It opened its doors in 1951, first showing a triple feature — “Dreaming Out Loud,” “The Fatal Hour,” and “Trail of Robin Hood.”
At the time, the theater only had a single screen. Over the years, two more have been added (the most recent one in 2009).
More Than Movies
The drive-in became an extremely popular summertime activity for Flint locals, not just because of its movie showings. The facility, which covered 25 acres, also included a concession stand and a full playground. There was even an apartment for the manager, which was in the projection tower.
The playground included a merry-go-round and was adjacent to a waterway where visitors were invited to take motorboat rides.
The theater continued to be a popular spot for several generations and is widely considered a Flint tradition. Though there are only 800 drive-in movie theaters in the United States today, the US 23 Drive-In is still going strong, partially because it adapted modern technology.
The drive-in underwent an extensive renovation in 2009, updating its facilities, menu, and more while maintaining its original atmosphere. Further renovations in 2013 brought the theater into the 21st century with new technology, including screen projectors and sound equipment.
There are a total of three screens, each of which shows different features every night.
Today, the US 23 Drive-In Theater features nightly double features, seven nights a week. The season kicks off in April and lasts until Labor Day. It remains a popular summer activity for locals and has room for about 1,000 cars. On a typical summer night, you’re likely to find it packed.
Although the facilities have been around for decades, the drive-in shows new movies that are just hitting theaters. In that respect, it is much like going to any other movie theater.
Things to Do at the US 23 Drive-In Theater
The US 23 Drive-In offers nightly double features throughout the summer, and you only pay one admission to see both. There is also a full-service concession stand that serves standard movie theater fare alongside hamburgers, corn dogs, root beer floats, Icees, mozzarella sticks, and other treats.
The drive-in has three screens, each of which shows a unique double feature. You can buy tickets at the gate for the movies you want to see. You won’t be able to switch between screens — once you pay for a double feature. You can stay for one or both movies but not go to another one.
If you don’t want to see both movies, you are welcome to leave after the first showing or come for just the second (though admission will be the same). To make this easier, the drive-in posts the runtime and start time of each movie on its website and Facebook page.
Nostalgic & Sentimental
Reviews of the US 23 Drive-In are glowing, with many people referencing the nostalgic atmosphere. The managers of the drive-in have made a significant effort to keep the old-world experience, even though the facilities have been expanded and updated.
When the weather is pleasant, you won’t have to sit in your car (unless you want to, of course). You will often find people setting up lawn chairs and blankets so that they can get comfortable during the showing.
Additionally, people have the option to tune into the movie through their satellite radio. This makes it easy for everyone to hear, especially if you prefer to stay in your car or are hearing impaired. This is just one of the ways that the US 23 Drive-In has updated its facilities to bring them into the 21st century.
Events & Specials
Although the regular movie nights are the main attraction, they aren’t the only thing that you will find going on at the theater. There are regular holiday events and specials, which often include discounted tickets.
The drive-in prioritizes movies that are new to theaters, which means that you will be able to see new releases of all genres. However, it gives precedence to movies that are family-friendly so that people of all ages can enjoy the showings.
FAQs About the US 23 Drive-In Theater
Can you bring your own snacks to the US 23 Drive-In Theater?
Unlike most traditional movie theaters, outside snacks are not forbidden at the US 23 Drive-In Theater. However, they are discouraged.
The theater staff encourages moviegoers to peruse the concession stand, which plays a significant role in allowing the drive-in to continue operating.
Are pets allowed at the US 23 Drive-In Theater?
Pets are allowed at the US 23 Drive-In Theater, provided they remain in your car or on a leash at all times.
More Things to Do Near the US 23 Drive-In Theater
Learn at the Sloan Museum of Discovery
The Sloan Museum of Discovery is one of Michigan’s most fascinating and popular museums, and it’s located in Flint. Recently renovated, the museum features a huge variety of exhibits, including many that rotate throughout the year.
The Longway Planetarium is part of the facility, offering even more fascinating things to learn and see.
Tour the Flint Institute of Arts
The Flint Institute of Arts is a highly respected art gallery, museum, and art school.
The FIA has exhibits in many media — from a huge collection of African art to Renaissance tapestries, prehistoric American pottery, and contemporary glasswork. The many events and rotating exhibits mean that you never know what new things you’ll find.
Browse the Flint Farmers’ Market
The Flint Farmers’ Market takes place every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday throughout the year. Rain or shine, the region’s best vendors show up to offer their wares, some of which are truly impressive.
You will find everything here from local produce to homemade baked goods, handmade furniture, art pieces, and so much more.
Dining Near the US 23 Drive-In Theater
If you want to grab a bite to eat before your single or double feature, you have several Flint restaurants to choose from. Here are a few fantastic options close to the US 23 Drive-In.
Taboon of Flint is a family-owned, come-as-you-are Mediterranean eatery in the heart of Flint Michigan. Here, guests can enjoy authentic Mediterranean dishes — from stuffed grape leaves to tabouli, chicken shawarma, and much more.
Also, there is a fresh juice bar where you can order a customized juice mix of your choice.
Blackstone’s Smokehouse is located in downtown Michigan in a beautiful historic building. Though it has had many uses over the years, it is now Flint’s best barbecue joint.
In addition to delicious smoked meats and other dishes, Blackstone’s hosts many events throughout the year — from live music to community events and more.
MaMang is a no-frills, high-quality restaurant specializing in Vietnamese and Taiwanese dishes. The main focus is on pho, but delicious dishes of all kinds are served. Ask any Flint local, and they’ll point you toward MaMang for some of the best pho in Michigan, so make sure that you come hungry.
Lodging Near the US 23 Drive-In Theater
If you want to stay near the US 23 Drive-In, you’re in luck. There are plenty of lodging options in Flint Michigan for all budgets.
This comfortable apartment is available as a vacation rental for one or two people. Located in downtown Flint, it is in the perfect spot to access Flint’s restaurants, shopping, and entertainment options. If you are looking for a safe, clean, and comfortable spot that is close to the action, this is a great option for you.
The Genesee-Otter Lake Campground is one of the best-known camping facilities in the Flint area. Located on the shores of the Twin Sisters Lakes, it offers more than 129 campsites, including tent pitches, cabins, and RV hookups.
Also, the private property includes multiple nature trails and a stocked lake for sailing and fishing.
Knob Hill Bed & Breakfast is one of the most beautiful and unique places to stay in the Flint area. This stunning inn is family-owned and offers a variety of rooms and suites decorated in literary themes, such as Peter Pan, Arabian Nights, Secret Garden, and Alice in Wonderland.
Plus, this stunning inn isn’t far from all of Flint’s best attractions.
Plan Your Trip to Flint & the US 23 Drive-In Theater
The US 23 Drive-In Theater is a great place to visit when taking a trip to Flint Michigan. There is a reason why, after so many decades, it remains a local favorite.
But, the truth is that it is only one of countless things to do in Flint whether you’re interested in history, arts, culture, food, or spending time in the great outdoors.