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Image courtesy of ErriTollsten on Wikimedia Commons, hosted under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Best Drive-In Theaters in the United States

Everyone loves to enjoy movies in a theater, but going to a drive-in is even more special because of the atmosphere. The open skies, starry summer nights, and the smell of popcorn make drive-in theaters a unique experience. Although they were at their peak popularity in the 1950s and 1960s, many of them are still here, alive and kicking. We have compiled a list of some of the best drive-in theaters across the United States that you should definitely visit.

99W Drive-In

Located on Highway 99 West in Newberg, Oregon, the 99W Drive-In Theater opened in August 1953 with just one screen. Its first film features were “Sea Devils” and “Under the Sahara.” With the capacity of 200 to 275 vehicles, this drive-in is on the National Register of Historic Places. The family-operated theater is open on Fridays through Sundays from April to October, showing two movies each night from dusk. You can listen to the film on your car radio or bring an FM radio with you. What makes the 99W Drive-In so nostalgic is its snack bar reel between shows. You can also purchase snacks during the first film.

Admission:

Adults: $8

Kids ages 6 to 11: $5

Single-occupant vehicle: $12

Becky’s Drive-In

Becky’s Drive-In opened in Walnutport, Pennsylvania, as the Route 45 Drive-In in 1946, and it still charms visitors each year with a family-friendly atmosphere and pastoral setting. The theater has two screens: One of them is 80 by 50 feet and can accommodate 450 vehicles, and the second is 66 by 33 feet and can accommodate 250 vehicles. Each screen shows a double feature on weekends between April and October. Visitors who don’t have a radio to listen can rent one for $2.

Moviegoers with kids might be grateful for the moon-bounce and fire engine rides for entertainment before the films start. Additionally, the theater has a snack bar with a menu that includes everything from hamburgers and french fries to traditional movie snacks such as candy, popcorn and funnel cakes.

Admission:

Adults: $9

Kids ages 3 to 12: $6

Bengies Drive-In Theatre

Image courtesy of Ted Simpson on Flickr, hosted under CC BY 2.0.

Image courtesy of Ted Simpson on Flickr, hosted under CC BY 2.0.

Opened in 1956 in Baltimore, Maryland, Bengies Drive-In Theatre still has a lot of its historic characteristics. It has a huge 52-by-120-foot screen, which is the largest in the United States. This means that the presentations aren’t cropped. Two movies are usually featured on Fridays and Saturdays starting at twilight, but the theater has triple features on some nights. Despite the theater having comprehensive snack bar menu, visitors can buy a $10 permit to bring in their own food and drinks.

Admission:

General admission: $5 to $10

Kids ages 4 to 10: $5

Capri Drive-In Theater

Located in Coldwater, Michigan, the Capri Drive-In is a two-screen theater that opened in 1964 with the capacity for about 900 vehicles. One screen measures 80 by 40 feet, and the other measures 150 by 75 feet. Double features play on digital projectors from sundown on Fridays and Saturdays, rain or shine. The box office opens at 8 p.m., and radio rentals are also available for $2. The Capri has a very large snack bar with many self-serve foods for convenience. There are also several dining tables in the concession area as well as video games for further entertainment. With a sizable staff, the theater is very well-maintained.

Admission:

Adults: $8

Kids ages 5 to 11: $5

Corral Drive-In Theater

The Corral Drive-In Theater is located on Highway 54 next to an RV park in Guymon, Oklahoma, and operates one screen, even when it rains. This drive-in is perfect if you’re looking for a vintage atmosphere because classic cars are parked throughout the area. The box office opens at 7 p.m. on Friday through Sunday, and the double feature starts with retro cartoons from sundown. Balloon slides and a playground provide extra entertainment for kids before the show. You can enjoy everything from popcorn and snacks to salads and pizza at the Pizzeria & Grill.

Admission:

Adults: $7

Kids ages 4 to 11: $5

Harvest Moon Twin Drive-In Theatre

The Harvest Moon Twin Drive-In is located in Gibson City, Illinois. Since its opening in 1954, it has undergone an extensive makeover: They added two digital screens and projectors. However, many of its original features are still in place. One film is shown on each screen starting at dusk on Friday through Sunday between March and October. Double features are shown frequently, and visitors who need a radio can rent one for just $2.

This drive-in is special because moviegoers can grill before the show starts if they purchase a $5 food permit. It also has a snack bar for traditional movie snacks. Open for special occasions, the Burger Barn offers even more food options, and the Tiki Hut offers lawn games, hula-hoops, balls, and Frisbees for entertainment.

Admission:

Adults: $7

Kids ages 4 to 11: $6

Midway Drive-In Theatre

Opened in 1948 in Minetto, New York, the Midway Drive-In has one screen with 600 designated car posts in addition to overflow parking space. This theater is the oldest running drive-in in the state and opens its gates around 7 p.m. from Friday to Sunday. Triple features show almost every weekend starting at dusk. The theater was the first drive-in in the country to show open captioned films for the deaf community, and this tradition continues every Sunday. Every night, the snack bar offers candy, fried items, pizza, popcorn, and other snacks.

Admission:

Adults: $8

Kids ages 7 to 11: $3

Skyview Drive-In

Located in Belleville, Illinois, the Skyview Drive-In was opened in 1949 with a bright pink paint job, which made it famous throughout the 1960s and ’70s. Although the two-screen theater is no longer pink, it attracts moviegoers from April to October with double features on Fridays and Saturdays. The box office opens at 7 p.m., and screenings start about 20 minutes after sunset. Kids can enjoy the playground until it closes for the show. Although there is a full concession stand, you can walk to Schnucks next door for food as long as you present your admission ticket upon re-entry.

Admission:

Adults: $10

Two kids ages 11 and younger: Free per paying adult

Additional kids: $3

Reserved parking: $10

Starlight Drive-In Theatre

The Starlight Drive-In Theatre is located in the southern part of Atlanta, Georgia, and is popular for its four screens, which all feature digital projection systems to deliver clear sound and bright picture. It was opened in 1949 and features art-deco architecture. Many people enjoy this place because it has grillers with coolers as well as card tables for additional entertainment. There is also a concession stand that offers classic movie foods, candies, and confections.

Each of the four screens features two films every evening, rain or shine, unless the weather is severe. The gate opens about 45 minutes before the screening on Monday through Thursday, about 1.5 hours before screening on Friday and Saturday and about 1 hour before screening on Sunday.

Admission:  

Adults: $9

Kids ages 5 to 9: $1

West Wind Solano Twin Drive-In

With locations across the country, West Wind owns the Solano Twin Drive-In in Concord, California. The theater features two, 96-foot-wide screens and vintage signs to enhance the atmosphere. West Wind describes the theater as relaxed and family-friendly with a mix of old-school vibe and modern technology. Moviegoers can enjoy the playground or toss football or Frisbee before the screening and play in the arcade at any time.

The Solano Twin Drive-In is open every day, screening a single feature for new film releases back to back and a double feature for other titles. During the films, you have access to a fully stocked snack bar, which features Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, Orville Redenbacher popcorn, Pepsi products and more.

Admission (varies):

Adults: $7.95

Kids ages 5 to 11: $1.25

Tuesdays: $5.25 per person

From having the largest screen in the country to having the most screens, these are some of the must-see drive-ins for moviegoers who want more from their film-viewing experience.

Have you visited any of the drive-in theaters on this list?

Would you recommend any other drive-in theaters that weren’t included here?

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