For graying baby boomers like me, going to the drive-in was a summer ritual. Of the dozens that used to be open in Massachusetts, only a handful remains, and none of them are near Boston. But that doesn't mean you can't catch outdoor films this summer. The Hatch Shell on the Esplanade along the Charles River presents Free Friday Flicks starting June 21 with Hotel Transylvania. Other family-friendly movies to be shown will include Despicable Me on July 12 and Here Comes the Boom (which was shot in and around our fair city) on July 26. The films start at sundown.

Also on Friday evenings, beginning in mid-June through the end of August, the Boston Harbor Hotel will feature movies on its patio overlooking the harbor, such as What's Up, Doc on June 14 and E.T. on July 5. The films will be preceded by music. Patrons of the hotel's Rowes Wharf Sea Grille restaurant are invited to enjoy the films. Yet another place to catch outdoor movies is The Shops at Prudential Center. It will kick off its Family Film Festival starting on July 6 and continuing on Saturdays through August 24.

While the outdoor movies will surely be great, they won't quite match the classic drive-in experience -- and that's probably a good thing. There was some hanky-panky going on amid the cheesy films and the ads depicting dancing popcorn boxes and other gourmet fare served at the refreshment stand. It reminds me of a story that my old pal, Dick Beech, enjoyed telling. An executive at a local television station back in the day, the mild-mannered Beech used to transform himself into the wacky children's TV show host, Willie Whistle. A tireless supporter of charities, Beech/Willie made countless personal appearances for organizations. He once volunteered at a drive-in event for the Jimmy Fund. After a short promotional film was shown, he made the rounds asking customers for donations and, er, interrupted the activities of a young couple. Imagine the couple's surprise when they discovered the popular clown tapping on their car's especially foggy windows. There won't be any canoodling going on at the outdoor films presented at the Hatch Shell, Prudential Center, or the Boston Harbor Hotel (but you could book a room at the hotel).

The movies are one of the many reasons that Summer Selects…Boston. Learn more about the hot events happening in the city this summer.

Photo: Boston Harbor Hotel