Friday, June 12, 2009

Staycation idea: The Backyard Theater

Drive-in theaters peaked before I was born, but my family took at least a few trips to drive-in movies in the Seventies. I don’t remember the films, but I vaguely remember lying in the back of the station wagon with my pajamas on.

Drive-ins couldn’t compete with movie theaters and their better images, sound and climate control. That’s made drive-ins very rare, so if you can find one in your area, it’s a cool nostalgia trip for a staycation. You can search for one near you at And if there isn’t a drive-in nearby, you can create one within walking distance ... in your backyard.

It won’t be as cheap, but it can be even more fun. All you need is a computer with a DVD player, a white wall or bed sheet to use as the movie screen, and a projector, which you can find by doing an Internet search for “projector rental” and your city. Stores that rent audio-visual equipment for business meetings will have basic projectors for about $100 a day or weekend. If you tell them what your plans are, they can make sure it will work. They also rent projection screens if you want one.

Then plug in some small speakers to your computer, get out some folding chairs, and enjoy a classic double feature in your backyard. If you have a pool to float around in while you watch, rent Jaws.

The movie won’t be high-definition, but the backyard drive-in will fit the definition of a good staycation. There’s no doubt it’s far from ordinary. You can even make it part of a backyard camping experience.

*** "The Great American Staycation: How to Make a Vacation at Home Fun for the Whole Family (and Your Wallet!)" is now available. You can find it in stores or online.

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