Your Favorite Drive-In Theaters

Movie watching looks nothing like it did 30 or 40 years ago, but there’s still something special about the classic drive-in theater experience. Even as times change, drive-ins still have a alluring magic about them. Maybe it’s the oversize screen, the outdoor atmosphere, the vintage appeal, or the slightly intrusive feeling you get when you glance over at some distant screen showing a different movie. It’s hard to put your finger on. While they’re becoming more scarce with each year, there are still drive-in theaters out there, keeping the dream alive, and we want to hear about the ones closest to you!

(Image: Hoggarazzi Photography/CC BY 2.0)

Tell us in the comments below about your favorite drive-in theater that’s still operating (or still rusting away as a lovely ruin), and your favorite memory of the place. Even better, if you have a great original image of your favorite drive-in theater, post it in the comments! Your response may be included in a round-up article on Atlas Obscura! Let’s celebrate those drive-in Saturdays while we still have the chance!

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There are a couple still open in PA, but I haven’t been to them.

http://www.shankweilers.com/ - claims to be America’s oldest drive-in

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The drive-in in Warwick, NY (Orange County) is still going strong, although now it is a multi-plex drive-in, with three screens! This theatre has been around since 1950. I remember going there as a kid, sneaking in with a bunch of other young kids in the trunk of my older brother’s car. In those days you paid per person, not per car, hence the need to hide in the trunk to avoid paying. We would have to wait in the trunk until it got dark and it would be safe for us to emerge without the authorities noticing us. Brother always threatened to “forget” about us and leave us in there. I’m sure it was dangerous or at least slightly risky, but my parents and the other neighborhood parents didn’t seem to worry about this. Different times, different parenting guidelines! We had a lot more freedom than typically given to kids today, I think. The drive-in was a whole experience, and the movie was only a small part of it. My brother would usually tell us kids to scram so he could have the car to himself with his girlfriend. So we would go down to the swings and playground equipment at the front of the lot and crane our necks to watch the movie VERY up close, and without sound. I had my first “real” kiss under the stars and the looming screen from the little brother of my brother’s girlfriend. We were “summer” lake people whereas they were lake year-rounders, and there was a certain social chasm in the difference that was hard to bridge. But the kids were mostly unaware of this and we all had fun together at the drive-in, the beach, the motorboats on the lake, the pizza hangout, the record hops in our garage basement, the street games that lasted until 10 PM, etc. Nowadays, the Warwick drive-in is the only movie theatre around the area, which I always find weird, since Warwick is a rather upscale town these days, but all the local theatres closed, one by one, within the past 10 years or more.

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My favorite is Stardust Drive In
201 Tennessee Blvd
Watertown, TN 37184
https://www.stardustdrivein.com/

About an hour drive from Nashville. Great people, great food, great fun!

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On the Central Coast of California (The halfway point on your LA to SFO roadtrip) is Sunset Drive-in. Open every night with an awesome Swap Meet every Sunday Morning!

For $10 a person you get 2 films! Usually the top two films in the theater at any given time with the first one often being family friendly so the kids can sleep through the second. New films ever week!

Snack bar is poppin

Sunset Drive In’s Website and Showtimes

screen sunset

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The Fairlee Motel & Drive-In in Fairlee, VT. The last of its kind: a motel and drive-in where you can check in, pull back the curtains from the big picture window, turn on the speakers, and watch the movie from the comfort of your room. Or, drive on in and park wiht the other cars and trucks and listen to the movie either from the speakers or from your radio.

The snack bar is run by the owners who also run a cow farm & serve their own burgers. Pickles are made by the wife of the owner. Delicious.

It’s the last in the country that combines a motel and drive-in.

My best memory is waiting to see Godzilla there a few years ago, and lo and behold a hot air balloon that had gone off-course from the ballooning rally up the valley topped over the trees and settled down right in front of the screen before the previews started. The team for the balloon got it packed up and joined us all for the movie!

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The Sky Drive -in Yucca Valley no longer shows movies, but the swap meet has become a permanent fixture. Well worth the detour if you are visiting Joshua Tree NP. http://www.skyvillageswapmeet.com/

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The Vintage Drive-in in Avon, NY (south of Rochester). They do a haunted house during the off months and also run a local flea market. Super cool place.

The Greenville Drive-in (Home) on “highway” 32 in Greenville, NY (10700 Rt. 32, Greenville, NY 12083) was closed for a few years but has recently been revived. And. It. Is. Awesome!
Local concessions in addition to the usual fare, plus an outdoor seating area where you can purchase the most amazing cocktails, plus a mix of first-run and classic films curated by the filmmaker-owners of the place.
A great example of what a drive-in theater was, is, and can be.

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The Greenville Drive-In on rt 32 in New York’s Catskill mountain region is the most beautiful in the whole northeast! (I may be slightly biased, as it’s also in my hometown). All grass - not gravel - so it’s kid and dog friendly, you can play and relax as the sun sets & you wait for movie time. Recently restored & re-opened, the new owners stock the snack shall with local food & beverage, mix up delicious cocktails in their “projectionist club” area & even have live music & other community events! I have many dear memories from summers growing up & now I love to brag about this gem!

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Autorama in North Ridgeville, Ohio right off of I-80. 2 Screens with both showing double features.

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Mahoning Drive in Theatre in Lehigh valley Pennsylvania

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Mahoning Valley Drive-In is the best! They only show retro classics on film and it’s always a fantastic experience. I first attended their John Carpenter weekend a few years ago. Traveled over an hour both nights and got to see my favs Escape from New York and The Thing. Also was my first time seeing They Live and that was amazing. Their food is really good and they have lots of cool memorabilia on display.

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I’m going to bat for the Mahoning Drive In as well! I’ve been there a ton of times, and every experience has been great!

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I’m partial to the Mahoning (no offense Becky’s/Shankweiler’s). The view is incomparable.

There’s a double screen drive-in in the town I grew up. It almost shut down when they stopped making film for non digital projectors but was saved by community donations and Kurt Vonnegut’s estate.
https://www.hathawaysdrive-in.com

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Hull’s Drive In in Lexington, Virginia!

I can’t believe no one has yet mentioned the Wellfleet Drive - In, on Cape Cod. It’s just a wonderful way to spend an evening after a beach day on the Cape. Go early and bring food and lawn chairs and enjoy the Cape 's summer weather. There’s always a double feature. It’s been open since the 50’s and still has the speakers that attach to your car window. There’s also an FM signal that you can pick up on your radio.

It’s great going with kids, but also great not going with kids.

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The Greenville Drive-In in Greenville, NY is my absolute favorite drive-in theater. It is one of my favorite places. If possible I may have my ashes spread there, as it is a true haven of community, nature, art and culture.
The Greenville Drive-In (GDI) has a special place in so many hearts, both locally and far away. Even after over 50 years of operation, it is over the past five years that the GDI has begun to blossom into something extraordinary.
The GDI has not only the experience of enjoying outdoor cinema, but the local essence throughout its offerings in concessions and in their relaxing Beer Garden. The owners offer a distinct variety of concessions that are delicious, nutritious and unlike any other drive-in, most offerings are locally sourced.
The Projectionist’s Club Beer Garden at the Greenville Drive-In is a considerable draw in and of itself with locally sourced beverages and unique mixed drinks crafted to pair with the feature film. The elixirs served here are second to none, there is simply nothing else as finely and uniquely crafted behind a bar anywhere.
Unlike other drive-in’s, the Greenville Drive-In is actually green, with all grass grounds which make for amazing comfort on summer evenings. The GDI always has outdoor games available for families to play.
I have beautiful happy memories playing badminton with my daughter as the sun set behind the Greenville Drive-In’s absolutely stunning view of the iconic Catskill Mountains. A visit to the Greenville Drive-In is worth just its view of those breathtaking mountains, especially at sunset.
With woods nearby, the mountains and open sky, the GDI is a remarkable spot. I am not ashamed to say that I am often distracted from the film by the moon rising up through the trees or the way the clouds cross the moon-lit sky. To feel a cool summer breeze through the car, on a hot evening and the subtle echo of the nearby speakers.
I love that they feature films from times near and far. I love that as long as there is no threat of lightning or thunder, they will still light up the screen in the rain, my favorite weather. One of my most beloved memories at the Greenville Drive-In was sitting in the rain, at night, (by choice, I love the rain and the night) and watching one of my favorite movies, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. I could not have possibly had that experience anywhere else. It was remarkable.
Throughout their seasons they host one-of-a-kind events such as their annual season opening party, typewriter festival, ukeule jams etc. and local live music on Saturday evenings on the Projectionist’s Club stage.
The Greenville Drive-In is so fortunate to have such involved owners making it the very best operation it could possibly be. I will continue to forgo summer vacations and spend my summer evenings at the Greenville Drive-in, because it is so much more fulfilling and fun.

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This is a lovely ode to the drive-in. Thanks again for sharing!