There are so many things to treasure about life in the Twin Cities.  Between our beautiful parks and international cuisine, we really have it made.  Another special thing about our metro area is its variety of thriving independent movie theaters.  Yes, I know it can be hard to drag yourself off of the couch and away from Netflix, but depending on your mood you can choose from classic fare, an artsy experience, outdoor viewing, or a budget-friendly outing.  The following theaters make finally changing out of your pajamas worthwhile!

Heights Theater

heights interior new 2

Personally, I find something so compelling about black and white cinema.  Between the moody lighting and set designs of yore, I’ll watch pretty much anything predating the invention of color.  That’s why it is so delightful to have the Heights Theater only a hop, skip, and a jump away from me.  The Heights was built in Columbia Heights in 1926.  It has since been fully restored to its original, old-time glamour with antique chandeliers, dramatic curtain, and antique pipe organ which is played before certain shows and during silent movies.  The Heights specializes in classic films, often shown from 35 mm reels.  If you are looking for a classic panache from your next movie experience (something Netflix can never deliver), look no further than here.  You can also buy tickets in advance online without any additional fees  — kudos for that!

Trylon Microcinema


The Trylon Microcinema in Longfellow is a one-of-a-kind experience.  This nonprofit movie theater will be newly renovated and reopen this month.  The expansion will double their capacity, include a new, larger screen, and improve disability accessibility.  More space will also allow for speakers and musicians to accompany the cult cinema and art house films the Trylon is known for.  You can watch movies here you simply cannot see anywhere else on the big screen.  They also offer discount cards, meaning you can see five movies for only $25.  The Trylon is operated by volunteers, making for an excellent opportunity if you love free movies and meeting people just as delightfully geeky as you!

Vali-Hi Drive-In


Drive-in movie theaters are a dying breed, but luckily for us Vali-Hi Drive-In in Lake Elmo is still around for our enjoyment.  Pack up the car with blankets, pillows, and maybe some hot chocolate and you are all set to see three movies from the comfort of your own car.  Movies start at dusk, regardless of weather, and cost $8.50 per adult, $1 for children ages 6 to 12, and absolutely nothing for the itty-bitty ones.  Keep in mind that Vali-Hi doesn’t take credit cards, so bring cash!  The drive-in also features an arcade and one dollar hot dogs. I mean, what more could you possibly want?  That’s right, nothing.  It’s the perfect destination for a wholesome night out with the in-laws and kiddos in tow.

Riverview Theater


The majority of us have a budget to consider when making plans, but thanks to the Riverview Theater in South Minneapolis we can always enjoy a night out at the movies.  It’s a blast from the past 50’s style theater, but it is equipped with state of the art picture and sound.  The building itself is adorable, featuring a classic marquee sign and kitschy wallpapered bathrooms for a true retro experience.  Evening admission for their second run Hollywood movies is $3, and for matinees only $2.  You just can’t beat that deal, folks!  The Riverview is also beloved for their popcorn, which is reasonably priced (a movie theater novelty) and made with real butter.  Just be sure to bring cash, because your debit card means nothing here!

Whether you have a hot date or need to entertain your parents for a couple hours, the option of going to a fun movie theater is not one you should overlook.  These unique movie theaters all offer something different, but also that same collective experience that comes with watching a movie together.  The crunch of popcorn.  The audible gasps.  The occasional jump out of the seat.  So get out of that bathrobe, grab a few bucks, and go make the most of what the Twin Cities movie theater scene has to offer!


By Liz Walker