San Diego’s Unique Movie Venues

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Watching movies from the comfort of your own home is nice, but there’s just something more majestic about watching movies on the big screen. Though many complain about the rising costs of a night out at the movies, theaters offer a valuable experience for many. At the theater, there are no inconvenient distractions and no reasons to pause during critical moments of the film. Time spent in the theater feels like a quick escape from reality. The smell of popcorn, the hunt for a perfect seat, and the epic sound systems are all part of the theater experience.

For this reason, movies are a big business in America.

Movie ticket prices have gone up a whopping 12,000% since they were first sold. Americans spend $26.6 million per day at movie theaters. The movie theater industry brings in about $17 billion in profit each year. 

Since we are spending our hard earned money on pricey tickets, popcorn, and candy, we want our movie venues to be clean, comfortable and cozy. Recently, many movie venues have been upping their game and giving viewers even more of an experience by offering something unique and exciting. Many new theaters are improving by serving a full menu rather than the typical movie night snacks. Others are providing alcoholic beverages and reclining seats to make the night more luxurious and comfortable.

Want to try something a little different? Try one of these unique movie venues:

The Pearl

The Pearl is a hotel complete with a restaurant, bar, and swimming pool.  During the week, The Pearl hosts “Dive-In Theater.” Films are projected onto a 10′ x 13′ foot screen with full sound, overlooking a vintage, oyster-shaped swimming pool. Guests are invited to enjoy a range of films: April will feature titles such as Dazed and Confused (4/19) and Office Space (4/26).  During the month of May, The Pearl will be playing Selena, Monty Python’s Holy Grail, The Graduate, Ace Ventura Pet Detective, and Sixteen Candles. As far as movie experiences go, The Pearl offers a truly unique and memorable vintage pool party atmosphere.

Address: 1410 Rosecrans St. San Diego, CA 92106

Santee Drive-In


Pack up your car with some blankets and your favorite treats. Or, head to the snack bar and choose your treats when you arrive. Bring your friends or significant other and enjoy the movie from the private capsule of your own car. The Santee Drive-In keeps the old school charm alive and almost feels like a trip in a time machine. Though the drive-in doesn’t offer the luxurious amenities of indoor theaters, there’s something about the experience that feels more authentic and exciting. Tickets are $9 per adult, $4 for juniors, and children under 4 are free. Each screen plays a double feature, so you can watch two movies for the price of one if you’re able stay up late enough.

Address: 10990 Woodside Ave. North, Santee, CA 92071

Cinema Under the Stars

At Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills, they have “perfected the outdoor movie experience.” This venue plays current films as well as classics and cult favorites. The seating offered includes single & double zero gravity recliners, love seat cabanas, and deck chairs with tables. With a weatherproof retractable dome and infrared heating, Cinema Under the Stars has your comfort in mind while giving you the experience of an outdoor theater.

Address: 4040 Goldfinch St. San Diego, CA 92103

These unique venues will deliver a memorable experience whether you’re watching a classic or a current blockbuster.

Lauren lives in OB with her French bulldog, Elvis Presley. She loves laughter and the great outdoors. You can contact her at

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