San Francisco, CA

San Francisco has not rolled the credits on movies during the SIP

Johanna Miyaki

The ongoing “Shelter in Place” mandates in many San Francisco Bay Area counties have made the options for entertainment limited to say the least. One of the things I miss most is going to the movies. While we can all enjoy streaming movies at home, for me, it just isn’t quite the same as the “in person” move going experience. There is something to be said about sitting in a dark theater with total strangers experiencing a collective suspension of belief as a story unfolds on the big screen. The visuals, the sounds, the smell of popcorn, it is completely different from watching a movie on your TV screen at home (or a tablet or mobile phone for that matter). The good news is, there are still a few ways you can enjoy a night out at the movies and support local independent movie houses and business.

Bay Area “Pop Up” Drive-in Movie Theatres

Flix at Fort Mason 2 Marina Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94123

Fort Mason, in San Francisco, debuted a pop-up drive-in theater last summer offering moves with a view, of the bay that is! They erected a big screen among the historic buildings on the waterfront offering an “only in San Francisco” drive in movie experience. Visit their website for information on upcoming screenings, showtimes, pricing, etc. Concessions are not available until San Francisco’s Shelter-In-Place rules are relaxed when COVID-19 pandemic conditions improve. There are lots of places to pick up take out nearby that will help support local restaurants!

*Coming January 28-Febrary 2, 2021 are satellite screenings of the Sundance Film Festival.

*TIP: Currently, all screenings are SOLD OUT, but we may see additional tickets go on sale next week, check out the Roxie Theatre Website for updates!

Photo Credit: Flix at Ft Mason

Alameda County Fairgrounds

“Under the Stars” Drive-in Movies at the Alameda County Fairgrounds offers movie classics weekly. The cost is $35 per Vehicle (Online Advance Purchase) $40 per Vehicle (On-Site, if tickets are available) and is good for up to (6) people. Face masks are required anytime you are outside of your vehicle. Drinks and snacks are available to purchase in advance online only. Visit the website for details and to purchase parking in advance. You may also call Etix to buy parking at (800) 514-3849

*Tip: Gates to movie parking opens by 5:00pm, get there early for the best spot, enter at Gate 12 off of Valley Avenue.

Bay Area Drive-in Movie Theatres

West Wind Solano Drive-In 1611 Solano Way Concord, CA 94520

West Wind Capitol Drive-in 3630 Hillcap Ave, San Jose, CA 95136

West Wind Drive-ins

West Wind opened their first drive-in theatre in 1952, family owned and operated from day one, today they own and operate the largest drive-in theatre chain in the world with two locations in the San Francisco Bay Area. Self-described as relaxed family fun with a mix of old-school drive-in vibe combined with the latest technology. They were one of the first drive-in theatres to install large digital projectors available and provide the technology to send audio directly to your car stereo. Concessions are offered though will vary based on the country SIP mandates. Tickets are also available for purchase on-line now at many locations, check the website for titles, showtimes, pricing, etc.

*Tip: there are lots of convenience stores and drive thru and quick serve offerings near these theatres, grab your own food, drinks, and snacks if the concessions are not open…dinner and a movie, done and done. Get there early for the best spots and movies often sell out quickly.

Photo Credit: West Wind Drive-Ins

Streaming Movies at Home…for FREE!

Now there is no shortage of streaming available for pay, I won’t list them here. I will share one that I was delighted to discover several months back.


This video streaming service offers movies, documentaries, foreign films, classic cinema, independent films and educational videos for FREE through the San Francisco public library. Its available through many Bay Area public library systems and all you need is a library card. As most people already know, you can borrow movies just as you would borrow books from your public library. This ad-free experience can be enjoyed at home on your TV or any most mobile phones, tablets and PCs online. Play credits are used to play videos on Kanopy. You will receive 15 play credits per month through the San Francisco Public Library. Each video will use 1 play credit each. Bonus: Kanopy Kids content requires no credits.

Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema

The 17th Annual season included outdoor screenings from South Slope Cinema's pop-up drive in "Under the Stars" at San Francisco's Alemany Farmers Market and virtual screenings of “The Best of Bernal” selections. While the outdoor season has ended, virtual offerings continue.

Face-to-Face with the Filmmaker indoor quarterly screenings will be offered virtually during the ongoing SIP. Film lovers are invited to view an evening program of films and Q&A discussion with the filmmakers. Visit their website for more information.

First up for 2021 is “Vanishing Chinatown: on January 26, 2021

Vanishing Chinatown: The World of May’s Photo Studio weaves interviews with hundreds of photographs rescued by chance from a San Francisco dumpster to tell the story of an immigrant community becoming westernized in the early to mid-1900’s.

Photo Credit: Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema

*Tip: I get it, who wants to cook on movie night? If you are in San Francisco, Daly City SSF and parts of San Bruno, check out Club Feast and order in:

Club Feast delivers meals from your favorite restaurants at discounted prices with prepaid, flexible lunch and dinner meal credits that allow you to pre-order meals and pre-plan deliveries for up to 50% less than other food delivery services.

Whatever you decide, there are lots of ways to enjoy your next movie, keeping it fun and safe.

Pick up your favorite movie treats to go or have them delivered. If you venture out to a drive-in, remain in the car if you can and wear a mask if you need to leave the car to visit the restroom, etc. If you decide to have a movie night at home, watch with those in your “quarantine bubble”. And as you would in a theatre, exercise good movie watching etiquette: Turn off those phones, no loud conversations and if you arrive tardy to the party at the drive-in, please, TURN OFF YOUR HEADLIGHTS!

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Covering news and telling stories from beautiful San Francisco and beyond if the story takes me there! More than Human Interest stories, I will share stories about Interesting Humans. Not just Breaking News but news that matters to you, to the local community and the world we share. Follow me here on News Break! ~ Johanna Miyaki

San Francisco, CA

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