The Coolest Retro Drive-In Movie Theaters in America

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Retro Drive-In Movie Theaters Across America

Retro Drive-In Movie Theaters Across America

You can still experience a nostalgic American tradition
The Coolest Retro Drive-In Movie Theaters in America

iStockphoto.com/GarysFRP

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of watching a movie at a drive-in, then you already know that there’s no other moviegoing experience quite like it. Drive-in theaters have been experiencing a resurgence in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic as they allow movie-goers to maintain social distance from others while still having a night out. If you’re looking to visit a drive-in, here are some of the best across the country where you can still cruise on up and watch a movie from the comfort of your own car.

66 Drive-In Theatre (Carthage, Missouri)

66 Drive-In Theatre (Carthage, Missouri)

Steve Lagreca/Shutterstock

Route 66 is the epitome of Americana from a bygone era, and a few classic drive-ins remain along the Mother Road, including the 66 Drive-In Theatre in Carthage, Missouri. First opened in 1949, it was restored and reopened in 1998. It's a must-visit stop on any family Route 66 road trip.

99W Drive-In (Newberg, Oregon)

99W Drive-In (Newberg, Oregon)

Janey E./Yelp

Open since 1953, the 99W Drive-In is a single-screen theater just outside Portland, Oregon, that hasn't changed much in its more than 60-year history. It even still screens vintage drive-in ads before features. The theater has both new releases and special screenings of classics, such as "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."

Admiral Twin Drive-In (Tulsa, Oklahoma)

Admiral Twin Drive-In (Tulsa, Oklahoma)

Runaway B./Yelp

First opened in 1951, this drive-in was renamed the Admiral Twin in 1952 and was in business for more than 50 years until its wooden screens burned down in a fire in 2010. Fans of the theater raised money to help rebuild it with new metal screens, and it was able to reopen in 2012. The Twin was a shooting location for Francis Ford Coppola's '60s-era movie "The Outsiders," making it a Hollywood movie location you can actually visit.

Becky's Drive-In Theatre (Walnutport, Pennsylvania)

Becky's Drive-In Theatre (Walnutport, Pennsylvania)

Film-lover William D. Beck founded a drive-in theater in Pennsylvania in 1946, and his children continue to run the business to this day. Patrons of this seasonal, pet-friendly two-screen theater can enjoy its mom-and-pop charm along with films old and new.

Bengies Drive-In (Baltimore, Maryland)

Bengies Drive-In (Baltimore, Maryland)

Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images/TAT

Bengies, located in Baltimore, claims to have the biggest drive-in screen in the country, measuring 52 feet by 120 feet. On top of showing the latest releases, the theater, open since 1956, also hosts events like movie marathons and classic holiday movie screenings.

Blue Fox Drive-In (Oak Harbor, Washington)

Blue Fox Drive-In (Oak Harbor, Washington)

Ash C./Yelp

Washington residents looking for a social distancing date night idea should head to the drive-in. Oak Harbor’s Blue Fox Drive-In has a go-kart track, arcade and extensive snack bar with a menu including pizza, cheesesteaks, more than 100 kinds of candy and plenty of gluten-free options. The theater also sells its own custom 64-ounce or 100-ounce "Really Big Mugs" of soda. They also show vintage cartoon shorts before the movies start.

Boulevard Drive-In Theater (Kansas City, Kansas)

Boulevard Drive-In Theater (Kansas City, Kansas)

Boulevard Drive-In Theater/Yelp

The Boulevard Drive-In Theater, a family-friendly drive-in in Kansas City, Kansas, has been open since 1950. Kids under 11 are admitted for free, and the theater is currently capping its capacity to encourage social distancing.

Capri Drive-In (Coldwater, Michigan)

Capri Drive-In (Coldwater, Michigan)

Matt H./Yelp

Capri Drive-In is a twin-screen drive-in that opened in 1964. Back then, they charged just $1 for admission. Today, the theater is open seven nights a week from March until late October. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids age 5 to 11, while children under 5 are free. Make sure to arrive early for screenings — the line can reach half a mile long during the busy summer months.

Comanche Drive-In (Buena Vista, Colorado)

Comanche Drive-In (Buena Vista, Colorado)

Craig P./Yelp

One of the few remaining drive-in movie theaters in Colorado, the Comanche Drive-In is the highest drive-in in the country at an elevation of more than 8,000 feet. It’s first full season was in 1967, and this family-run business shows new Hollywood releases and classic films with the Rocky Mountains as a backdrop.

Coyote Drive-In (Fort Worth, Texas)

Coyote Drive-In (Fort Worth, Texas)

Coyote Drive-In/Yelp

Coyote Drive-In is newer but it captures the spirit of drive-ins of yore. Opened in 2013, the theater has four screens, and the Fort Worth skyline peeks through behind them. There's a concession stand and a bar, and guests can order treats to be delivered directly to their car.

Delsea Drive-In Theatre (Vineland, New Jersey)

Delsea Drive-In Theatre (Vineland, New Jersey)

David S./Yelp

New Jersey is the birthplace of the drive-in, but there's only one drive-in left in the Garden State. The Delsea Drive-In Theatre was built in 1949, closed in 1987 and reopened in 2004. It boasts an extensive snack bar menu ranging from classic treats and stadium foods to edamame and pierogies. Moviegoers can order food from their smartphones and get a notification when it's ready for pickup at the concession stand.

The Ford-Wyoming Theatre (Dearborn, Michigan)

The Ford-Wyoming Theatre (Dearborn, Michigan)

Becki B./Yelp

The Ford-Wyoming Theater in Dearborn, Michigan, outside the underrated city of Detroit, was once the largest drive-in in the country, with nine screens and a capacity of 3,000 cars. Today, the theater has five screens showing nightly double features seven days a week year-round. During the chilly Midwestern winter months, in-car heaters are available to keep you toasty while your battery is off.

Greenville Drive-In (Greenville, New York)

Greenville Drive-In (Greenville, New York)

Tim C./Yelp

The Greenville Drive-In might have opened in 1959, but it's seen many hip, modern amenities added after changing hands over the years. Its snack shack sells locally sourced foods and there's a beer garden serving local brews. Visitors can catch double features, festival films and sing-alongs to fan-favorite films like “Grease.”

Harvest Moon Twin Drive In Movie Theatre (Gibson City, Illinois)

Harvest Moon Twin Drive In Movie Theatre (Gibson City, Illinois)

Harvest Moon Twin Drive In Movie Theatre/Yelp

The Harvest Moon Twin Drive-In in Gibson City, Illinois, first opened in 1954 and operated for about 30 years before it closed down and later reopened in 1989. It screens first-run features during the summertime. Children under 4 are admitted free, pets are welcome and outside food and drink is permitted for a fee.

Malco Drive-In Theater (Memphis, Tennessee)

Malco Drive-In Theater (Memphis, Tennessee)

© Calvin L. Leake | Dreamstime.com

The four-screen Malco Drive-In Theater in Memphis, Tennessee, is a summer tradition for many locals. Children under 10 years old are admitted free so it's a fun, affordable and private way to enjoy a family outing.

Mission Tiki Drive-In Theatre (Montclair, California)

Mission Tiki Drive-In Theatre (Montclair, California)

Ron T./Yelp

After Hawaii became a state in 1959, the mainland became obsessed with all things Polynesian, from home decor to tiki bars to Elvis' "Blue Hawaii." This retro Hawaiian aesthetic is what gives Mission Tiki Drive-In Theater in Montclair, California, its charm. It opened in 1956 and fell into disrepair before getting a second life through a 2006 remodel. The theater shows new movies seven days a week on four screens.

Route 66 Drive-In (Springfield, Illinois)

Route 66 Drive-In (Springfield, Illinois)

RunAway B./Yelp

The Route 66 Drive-In in Springfield, Illinois, closed in the 1980s and sat vacant for decades before it was renovated and reopened in 2002. The seasonal two-screen theater offers nighttime double features, and guests can order concessions via a free app.

Sauerbeck Family Drive-In (La Grange, Kentucky)

Sauerbeck Family Drive-In (La Grange, Kentucky)

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

A newer addition to the drive-in scene, Sauerbeck Family Drive-In opened in 2018 and operates seasonally from April through October. The theater shows double features of first-run blockbusters as well as concerts and even live comedy performances. Concessions may be ordered online and in advance or you can pay a fee to bring in your favorite retro snacks.

Silver Lake Twin Drive-In (Perry, New York)

Silver Lake Twin Drive-In (Perry, New York)

Bought by the Stefanon family in 1966, this drive-in near the eastern shore of New York state's Silver Lake is part of a larger family entertainment destination thanks to its sit-down restaurant, ice cream parlor, arcade, mini-golf course, 40-foot mining sluice and more.

Spud Drive-In (Driggs, Idaho)

Spud Drive-In (Driggs, Idaho)

Nizza S./Yelp

The Spud Drive-In outside Driggs, Idaho, pays tribute to Idaho’s most iconic food and its potato-farming surroundings through its name and its appearance. The theater's entrance sign is an old Chevrolet truck with a giant potato in the bed. Movies are projected on a rustic-looking screen with majestic mountains as a backdrop.

Starlight Drive-In Theatre (Atlanta, Georgia)

Starlight Drive-In Theatre (Atlanta, Georgia)

Ivan S./Yelp

Thanks to the preservation of its art-deco style, the Starlight Drive-In Theatre on the outskirts of Atlanta is a delightful blast from the past. Open since 1949, the drive-in has added screens over the years to offer a variety of movies, concerts and special screenings seven days a week.

Swap Shop Drive-in (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)

Swap Shop Drive-in (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)

Bruce G./Yelp

One of the largest drive-ins in the United States is Florida's Swap Shop Drive-In, a complex with more than a dozen screens as well as an indoor and outdoor flea market, an arcade and carnival rides. You don't have to leave your car to get concessions during a flick — employees drive around on golf carts selling drinks and classic snack foods during the show.

Vineland Drive-In (City of Industry, California)

Vineland Drive-In (City of Industry, California)

Mark P./Yelp

There is plenty to do in California besides Disneyland or the beach, including watching a drive-in movie. One of the few remaining drive-ins in Southern California, Vineland Drive-In has been in business since the ‘50s. Open seven days a week, the four-screen drive-in offers a lineup of classic, new and foreign movies. Children 5 and under are free.

Wellfleet Drive-In Theater (Wellfleet, Massachusetts)

Wellfleet Drive-In Theater (Wellfleet, Massachusetts)

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First opened in 1957, this Massachusetts drive-in theater still has its original speaker box stands, but modern moviegoers can also get crisp sound through their vehicle's speakers. Wellfleet Drive-In has upgraded digital projectors, a mini-golf course and a snack bar.

West Wind Drive-In (Glendale, Arizona)

West Wind Drive-In (Glendale, Arizona)

Drive-In Glendale/Yelp

West Wind Drive-In in Glendale, Arizona, is part of the largest drive-in theatre chain in the world. First opened in 1979 with nine screens, it also has a playground, arcade and snack bar. If you love visiting places with a dose of old-fashioned charm, consider planning a trip to the most quaint historic towns in every state.

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