From the big apple to the deserts of Arizona, crossing through Texas, Musement shares 10 of the best Drive-in movie theaters in America.
Ever thought about catching your favorite stars on the big screen from the comfort of your own car? What was once popular back in the 50s and 60s, the drive-in movie theater trend slowly faded shortly after. People preferred to go to movie theaters instead of parking their car in a huge open lot and seeing scenes from the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the streets of London or from Venice’s canals in Italy.
Fast forward to the late 90s and early 2000s, and new drive-in boom took place. Experiencing a drive-in movie is something you can’t pass up, especially with some cinemas still closed. Being able to roll the windows down on a brisk summer night, breathing in the fresh summer air and watching that blockbuster flick you’ve always wanted to see is priceless. So, if you want to turn back the clock and channel your inner Danny and Sandy, here are 10 of the best drive-in movie theaters you can find across the United States.
1. West Wind Drive-In, Arizona
What was once an extremely popular drive-in theater chain on the west coast has dwindled down to just one. Located in Glendale, Arizona the West Wind Drive-In offers its visitors an enormous screen with a fantastic digital projection. The original theater opened in 1979 with 7 screens but has since expanded to 9. Grab some snacks, drinks, and bring some good company for an experience like no other. Head over for Family Night on Tuesdays and pay only $5 for an adult ticket instead of $8, while children ages 5 to 11 always cost $2.00. West Wind offers a double feature so you get to see two films for the price of one, you can’t go wrong!
2. Mission Tiki Drive-In, California
Opened in 1959, this 72-year-old drive-in theater was on the fringes of closing down in 2019, but the Covid pandemic gave it a second chance. With its Polynesian statue garden and a thatch-roofed ticket booth, the theater’s tiki theme is on full display. The Mission Tiki Drive-In Theater in Montclair is only a 45-minute drive from Los Angeles. Four screens will show your favorite films like Pulp Fiction and Back to the Future. Come with an empty stomach and indulge in some of the snack bar’s food, ranging from hamburgers, tacos, carne asada fries and more!
3. Bengies Drive-In Theater, Maryland
Home to the biggest movie screen in America, with dimensions of 52 feet high by 120 feet wide, Bengies Drive-In Theater will give its visitors a show, or two, to never forget. Double features are a regular thing at the drive-in theater in Middle River, Maryland, but visitors who come on the weekend will be treated to triple features! Yes, three movie showings for the price of one ticket. Just on the outskirts of Baltimore, Bengies is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year. With daily showings, the season runs from March to October.
4. Skyline Drive-In NYC, New York
New York is known for its amazing restaurants, open-air art, and beautiful scenery, but the “City that Never Sleeps” also has a drive-in movie theater you shouldn’t sleep on. Situated on the East River in Brooklyn, the Skyline Drive-In NYC offers jaw dropping views of the Manhattan skyline, so try not to get distracted from your movie. Movie offerings range from New York classics to new releases. With panoramic views of the big apple and a concession stand on-site, attending a movie here is a one-of-a-kind experience. The cost per car is $55 so make sure to come with a group of friends to split the cost or bring your significant other and enjoy a romantic night!
5. Wellfleet Drive-In, Massachusetts
The perfect place for some family fun. With a flea market, mini-golf, and its movie theater, it’s easy to see why you can spend a whole day here. Located in the heart of Cape Cod, the Wellfleet Drive-In theater has been in operation since 1957. Tickets go for $15 an adult, $10 for children aged 4-11, and free for those under 3 years old. A soft-serve ice cream from the Dairy Bar is the perfect way to top off a fun-filled summer night.
6. Swap Shop & Thunderbird Drive-In, Florida
A two-for-one special. Not only does it hold the title as the world’s largest drive-in theater, but also as the world’s largest daily flea market. With its whopping fourteen screens, a giant video game arcade, a Ferrari museum, and a flea market all on its grounds, it’s easy to see why everybody spends a full day at the Swap Shop & Thunderbird Drive-In. Make sure to check out the flea market for the best bargains on clothing, accessories, and more. When you are done, head over the free Ferrari museum before the sun sets and it’s showtime!
7. Coyote Drive-In & Canteen, Texas
Everything’s bigger in Texas, and that doesn’t change when it comes to this drive-in theater in Fort Worth. The Coyote Drive-In and Canteen, opened in 2011, is a trifecta! Not only does it project films on 4 screens, but it’s also home to a concert venue and beer garden. Choose from over two dozen beers to sip on as you enjoy the live music while admiring the sunset. Then, make sure to head over to catch the 9 o’clock showing of that Oscar award-winning film.
8. Family Drive-In, Virginia
Serving the Washington D.C and Virginia area, the Family Drive-In offers a true vintage drive-in experience. Music from the 50s and 60s can be heard playing on the speaker poles, making for a “classical” evening. Prior to the viewing, kids can make their way to the playground for some more entertainment. Car lovers, be sure to check the calendar and head to a car show as well! Come check out all the fun in Stephens City.
9. Capri Drive-In Theatre, Michigan
The bright neon “Capri” sign welcomes its visitors. At full capacity, the theater can hold up to 1,000 cars for a single showing. Known as the midpoint between Detroit and Chicago, the Capri Drive-in theater is located in Coldwater, Michigan. With two snack bars to choose from, you’ll easily find your favorite movie theater concessions, from popcorn to hot dogs, soda, and more. Tune in to either the FM or AM radio station for audio. Come on down from March until October to catch your favorite stars on one of the two big screens.
10. Star Drive-In Theatre, Colorado
One thing that might be “cooler than the Rockies” is this drive-in theater in Montrose, Colorado. The family-run theater has been operating for 72 years, marking it the nation’s oldest theater that is still owned and run by the founding family. During the summer months, visitors have the benefit of seeing double features at the one-screen theater. Each parking space is equipped with the traditional drive-in speakers, otherwise you can tune in on your car’s radio. Tickets cost $8.50 for adults, $6.50 for seniors 60 & over, and free for children 11 and under.