The idea of watching movies outside is fabulous. But, when you have kids, waiting until sundown can be a bit of a risk. Over the summer, there are several outdoor movie experiences all around us. However, the Harvest Moon Drive-In Theatre in Gibson City is open NOW, and the movies begin around 7:30-7:45pm (which is still late for the little ones but not so bad for the fun).
Harvest Moon is a super-cute place and a fun family experience. It would also make a great date spot. Although it's technically about 45-50 minutes from C-U (my husband got us there in about 30 going too speedily), it's worth the drive at least once! The movies (two different films each weekend) begin at sundown or whenever the owner is ready. The grounds open one hour before the movie. While you wait, you can bring your own picnic dinner, get a pizza or burger dinner, play soccer, fly a kite, read a book ... whatever you want. There is a very old carousel for the kids to ride while they wait as well.
We decided to park our minivan backwards, open the trunk, put the seat down, and cuddle up in the back. Two of the kids put out seats on the grass and watched until it got too cold. Our family piled up on each other with blankets, some Cheerios snack mix and buttery popcorn, and enjoyed. It is a bit chilly still but I was fine with my coat and some blankets.
There is an intermission with vintage snack bar commercials and all. The kids played some more soccer (I read People magazine). With the variable start time and intermission, we didn't finish the experience until 10pm. But the kids LOVED it, and I did enjoy the family time. The kids fell asleep on the way home, and my husband and I actually got to talk to each other in the car.
The cost is only $6/person, and kids 5 and under are free (so it is much cheaper than heading to the movie theater). The admission is cash-only (there's an ATM at the gas station down the street), but the concession stand takes plastic. Upon admission, you will receive your tickets and a bag for garbage (which you later can toss out your window at a target into the trash).
Its a fun experience. Check it out!
(For a lovely jaunt through the country, take Mattis north out of Champaign, which goes all the way to 136 near Fisher. Go west on 136 past Fisher, then head north on Route 47. You can't miss the theatre on the left side of the road just as you enter Gibson City.)