20 Drive-In Movie Theaters You Can Visit Right Now
Nothing says summer like watching a movie under the stars! We rounded up the oldest, biggest, and most fun drive-ins in America.
Blasts from the past
When you think of drive-in movie theaters, images of Sandy and Danny in Grease and all sorts of 1950s-era nostalgia probably pop into your head. But drive-ins never completely went away, even though there are far fewer of them than there used to be. Now, with the novel coronavirus keeping movie theaters closed and social-distancing measures in place, drive-ins are back in a big way. Equally great for a date or a family-friendly excursion, these outdoor movies are the perfect way to add a little bit of fun to your summer. We rounded up some of the best options in the country—all open right now and taking precautions to ensure your safety. What else should you do to fill your summer nights (and days)? Try these 26 nostalgic summer activities.
Yankees Stadium Uptown Drive-In Festival, Bronx, New York
When you think of movies and social distancing, Yankees Stadium probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind—but it should be this summer. With America’s favorite pastime being benched for the foreseeable future, the stadium has decided to open its parking-lot gates in July with the Uptown Drive-In Festival. While details are still being worked out, this pop-up drive-in will reportedly feature movies, concerts with local musicians, and curbside dinner service from New York street vendors. All-inclusive tickets will be available online only, and social-distancing guidelines will be in effect.
Not nearby? Don’t worry—there’s a good chance that a drive-in will pop up near you. Plans are in the works at the Outlets at Loveland in Colorado, various sites in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Penn Cinema in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County, and Ridgefield High School in Connecticut, to name a few. Some restaurants are even converting their parking lots into drive-in movie theaters.
Sunset Drive-In, Colchester, Vermont
With four big screens and themed double features (think action, suspense, or family-friendly flicks), this Vermont drive-in will be making safety a priority during the pandemic. Operating at 50 percent capacity, it will make sure that cars are spaced out by 14 feet on either side, as well as require face masks when going to the restroom or snack bar. Speaking of the snack bar, takeout orders can be placed via phone or website, so you can get in and get out when picking up your munchies. The site also has a playground, picnic area, and miniature golf course, but it’s currently closed.
The Spud Drive-In Theatre, Driggs, Idaho
At the Spud Drive-In, the movie being shown on the big screen won’t be your only amazing view. Situated near the entrance of Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, you’ll also see the Big Hole mountain range and the clear skies above. Pull up in your car to see new releases and old favorites, or watch them from of the Spud’s guest cabins or campers, which are set to reopen in June. If you love all things vintage, take a look at 17 of the most retro hotels in America.
Harvest Moon Twin Drive-In Movie Theatre, Gibson City, Illinois
After three decades in business, Harvest Moon closed due to a lack of interest in the ’80s. But in 1989, a local businessman named Mike Harroun made it his mission to reopen this 1954 drive-in. It has been up and running ever since, though it has gone digital and added another screen over the years. Located in central Illinois, it’s about 30 minutes from Champaign-Urbana and 35 minutes from Bloomington-Normal. Due to the pandemic, 75 percent of tickets will be sold in advance online and 25 percent will be available for in-person to purchase.
Holiday Auto Theatre, Hamilton, Ohio
While bringing your own food and drinks is forbidden at most drive-ins, Ohio’s Holiday Auto Theatre is an exception. Pay just $5 per car or group and you can munch on your own treats in the comfort of your car. Would you rather check out the concession stand? To keep things safe, you’ll find newly installed plexiglass barriers, a one-way circuit around the area for ordering, picking up, and exiting, and plenty of hand-sanitizer dispensers available. And don’t forget your mask when you head out to get your snacks. Here are 6 times you have to wear a face mask—and 3 times you don’t.
Tibbs Drive-In Theatre, Indianapolis, Indiana
There were once 18 drive-ins in Indianapolis, but now Tibbs is the last one standing. With four screens and a capacity of 1,600 cars, this drive-in is currently operating at 50 percent capacity to keep customers and staff safe. You can order concessions via the FanFood app, then pick them up at the building door when they’re ready. As the site notes: The silver lining is that there are no lines, so you won’t miss as much of the movie as you normally would when a popcorn craving hits!
Coyote Drive-In, Fort Worth, Texas
As they say, everything’s bigger in Texas. Panther Island Pavilion’s Coyote Drive-In, with its four screens and its extensive beverage menu at the Coyote Canteen, definitely qualifies. (Make sure to have a designated driver in your group if you plan on imbibing.) Open rain or shine, this Fort Worth venue will have cars park in every other spot and will require all staff to wear gloves and masks, as well as get their temperature checked before their shifts begin. Here are more ways your favorite restaurant might change after coronavirus.
South Bay Drive-In Theatre, San Diego
Opened in 1958, San Diego’s South Bay Drive-In has been welcoming families for more than 60 years. With this coastal city having an average temperature of 70 degrees at night, the drive-in is open seven days a week, 362 days a year. The theater also doubles as a swap meet three days a week, where you’ll find everything from phone chargers to socks to taco trucks. Fun fact: Stranger Things actor Matthew Modine‘s dad was the manager of various drive-in movie theaters, and he spent time hanging around them when he was a kid, no doubt inspiring his acting career.
The Family Drive-In, Stephens, Virginia
Only a 90-minute drive from Washington, D.C. (depending on traffic), The Family Drive-In in Stephens, Virginia, is great for families, as the name suggests. The drive is worth it, as you can enjoy a double feature for the price of one movie. In non-coronavirus times, if your kids get bored with the movie, they can head to the playground; right now, though, it’s closed. And we particularly love that dogs are welcome here. Another highlight includes the fun music from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s playing under the moonlit sky from the original car speakers on speaker poles. Add this place to the most incredible summer bucket list ideas you don’t want to miss out on.
The Star Drive-In Theatre, Montrose, Colorado
This family-owned drive-in, located about one and a half hours from Telluride, is as celebrated for its concession stand as it is for its double features, with guests lining up for its famous cheeseburgers and homemade French fries. Bonus: Kids under age 11 are free. Every June, the beloved drive-in hosts a “Back to the ’60s Night” with a classic car show and costume contest.
Bengies Drive-In Theatre, Middle River, Maryland
Head to Bengies Drive-In Theatre in Middle River, Maryland, to catch a flick on what they claim is the biggest movie screen in America—52-foot tall by 120-foot wide. Since 1956, the movies have always opened with the playing of the American anthem, and the popular intermission features vintage movie trailers and audience-participation games. While many drive-in movie theaters have double features, Bengies offers a triple feature for one low price, with kids under age four free. A trip here is almost like a mini-vacation for the family.
Hyde Park Drive-In Theatre, Hyde Park, New York
Located in the heart of the Hudson Valley, the Hyde Park Drive-In Theatre has been a popular upstate New York destination for almost 70 years. This historic drive-in sits on 12 acres and is across from Springwood, the former estate of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which is now a National Historic Site. The dog-friendly, alfresco theater is open nightly mid-April to mid-November and offers a popular concession stand, featuring Hershey milkshakes.
Valle Drive-In, Newton, Iowa
Established in 1948, Valle Drive-In in Newton, Iowa, is not only the state’s oldest drive-in movie theater but also one of the country’s oldest as well. This historic cinema shows double features seven days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and the beautiful grounds are perfect for playing games and catching up with friends and neighbors—from a proper social distance, of course—before the sunsets. In fact, you can rent the theater after the season closes, starting at $1,000! See if you can catch some of these iconic movies set in every state at the drive-in.
25 Drive-In, Greenwood, South Carolina
Opened 74 years ago before falling into disrepair and then reopening in 2009, Greenwood’s 25 Drive-In is now as popular for its delicious barbecue as it is for its three outdoor movie screens. It’s open every weekend, rain or shine, and families can roll up early to enjoy a dinner of a BBQ tenderloin sandwich with a side of fried pickles or jalapeño poppers.
West Wind Drive-In, Glendale, Arizona
Opened in 1979, the West Wind Drive-In Theater is now fully digital and boasts nine movie screens, making it the largest drive-in West of the Mississippi. The iconic theater—which is part of a chain, with other theaters in Nevada and California—offers first-run releases, as well as pajama parties and customer appreciation nights where movies are free. You can even have a message put a message on the screen to surprise a friend or family member for a small fee. (Two weeks advance notice is required.) Here are more clever ways people are celebrating birthdays during coronavirus.
Delsea Drive-In, Vineland, New Jersey
New Jersey is home to America’s very first drive-in, which opened in 1933—but, it has since closed, leaving the historic Delsea Drive-In as the Garden State’s only remaining operational drive-in. The theater, located about an hour from Atlantic City, originally opened in 1949 and closed in 1987, before reopening in 2004. You can watch movies under the stars Thursday through Sunday in the summer, and pets are allowed on Sundays. Brush up on your movie trivia facts before you hit the drive-in.
The Silver Moon Drive-In Theatre, Lakeland, Florida
Opened in 1948, this family-owned business survived a damaging tornado in 1950 (although the screen had to be rebuilt) and still stands strong today as a local institution in Central Florida. Admission prices to the outdoor cinema feel like from a bygone era: $6 for ages ten and over, $2 for ages four to nine, and free for kids under age four! Check out their Facebook page for showtimes.
Coleman’s Motor-Vu Drive-In, Riverdale, Utah
Coleman’s Motor-Vu Drive-In opened in 1947, and in 1952, a young Howard Coleman started working there as a “lot boy.” He eventually became the manager and worked at the theater until 1977, when he retired. Then, in 1979, when the current owners threatened to close the theater, he bought it himself. Coleman continued to work at the box office until 1999 when he was no longer physically able to. His youngest son has been running the theater ever since. The family-owned business has four digitally projected screens, and it hosts a swap meet every Saturday and Sunday morning throughout the year. While drive-ins are super affordable, this is the best free tourist attraction in Utah—and every other state.
99W Drive-In, Newberg, Oregon
Located an hour outside of Portland, 99W Drive-In in Newberg is a single-screen theater that opened back in 1953. Now run by the grandson of the founder, the 99W is one of America’s oldest family-owned drive-in movie theaters. It’s a fun spot on the weekends for families and hipsters alike, who enjoy the retro snack-bar vibe and the intermission reel. It’s open May to October, though due to coronavirus restrictions, capacity will be limited to 142 cars, and advance reservations will be required.
Electric Dusk Drive-In, Los Angeles
Unfortunately, the Electric Dusk Drive-In will be closed until fall 2020, but it’s worth mentioning because it’s Los Angeles’ only drive-in. When it opens again, it will continue to offer movies from the ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s, as well as new releases. The astroturf seating allows viewers to mingle as they watch a flick under the stars against the backdrop of the Los Angeles skyline. The Snack Shack offers healthy options, like veggie burgers, but you’re allowed to bring your own food, too. Setting up an at-home backyard theater? These are our 16 picks for top summer flicks to watch with the family.