25 Best Drive-In Movie Theaters in the U.S, Ranked
The earliest drive-in movie theater — Theatre de Guadalupe — opened its doors in New Mexico in 1915, but the outdoor cinematic experience really picked up in the early 1950s. The classic Americana experience has continued to be a hit for families and movie buffs to this day — with over 300 outdoor cinemas still in operation around the country and new cinemas opening in response to pandemic-induced social distancing mandates.
Considering taking the family to a night at the movies — under the stars? We’ve rounded up some of the coolest classic and contemporary drive-in movie theaters in the U.S. Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly activity or you’re looking for a cinema with a side of breathtaking scenery, here are some of the best options from coast to coast.
25. The Monetta Drive-In Theater
Location: Aiken, South Carolina
Year opened: 1951
Highlights: This old-school drive-in features three screens, each playing two films for guests to drive-in and watch. It also offers ways for guests to interact with each other, including trivia games on the main field during intermission and guest shoutouts on the big screen for those celebrating something special.
Why the Monetta Drive-In Theater Is One of the Best
Located just outside of Aiken, the Monetta Drive-In Theater or “The Big Mo” as locals call it, first opened as a single-screen theater in 1951 — and continues to offer double features every weekend, March through November.
The retro-style theater is authentic as they come and still allows guests to listen to the films through their car radio.
24. The Family Drive-In Theatre
Location: Stephens City, Virginia
Year opened: 1956
Highlights: The Family Drive-In, which operates two screens, bears the distinction of being the only remaining drive-in theater in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. It’s easily accessible from Interstates 81 and 66, but it’s light years away in terms of the experience, balancing the nostalgia of original speaker poles and music from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s with digital projection and the latest concessions. This drive-in also welcomes pets.
Why the Family Drive-In Theatre Is One of the Best
Built by the Dalke family and opened on June 14, 1956, the Family Drive-In annually hosts an anniversary event in early June to acknowledge its own birthday and the anniversary of drive-in theaters all over the country.
The theater is traditionally open from March through early December.
23. Starlight Drive-In
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Year opened: 1949
Highlights: This beloved 1980s-themed attraction is a great place to practice social distancing and is very affordable ($10 for adults; $1 for kids 5-9). Showings start at 9 p.m.every night with the double-feature screens. There are four screens visitors can choose from, depending on what they are in the mood for.
Why the Starlight Drive In Is One of the Best
The only drive-in theater in Atlanta, the Starlight Drive In is a retro-style drive-in that features an all-new digital projection system that plays the latest movies and virtual concerts, as cars park amidst the theater’s classic art-deco lot.
The drive-in has been a community landmark since 1949 and will evoke a sense of nostalgia in everyone — even if you weren't alive for the drive-in heyday.
22. Wellfleet Drive-In
Location: Wellfleet, Massachusetts
Year opened: 1957
Highlights: This old-school drive-in might date back to the 1950s — but it has continued to update and expand over the decades. Today, along with the drive-in theater, it features four indoor screens with Dolby Digital surround sound and 3D capabilities as well as Barco Digital Projection for the best outdoor sound and image quality possible.
Why the Wellfleet Drive-In Is One of the Best
The Wellfleet Drive-In is the last of its kind on Cape Cod — but continues to draw families for its one-of-a-kind movie nights.
The Wellfleet Drive-In also serves as a community flea market during the day for those who want to come early and shop for seaside treasures.
21. Spud Drive-In Theatre
Location: Driggs, Idaho
Year opened: 1953
Highlights: Located less than an hour away from Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the Spud Drive In Theatre offers an offbeat option for families looking for a less touristy activity.
Why the Spud Drive In Theatre Is One of the Best
The Spud Drive In Theatre is a full-service drive-in with high-quality images in a retro setting. Built in 1953, the family-friendly drive-in still offers snacks and accommodations as well as stunning starry skies and mountain views.
It’s well worth a visit for anyone road tripping through the area.
20. Rock ‘N’ Roll Drive-In
Location: Blomeyer, Missouri
Year opened: 2020
Highlights: As its name implies, this drive-in not only features classic films and new releases, but it also has live music.
Why Rock ‘N’ Roll Drive-In Is One of the Best
Two southeastern Missouri locals decided to bring back an old drive-in theater as a direct response to the pandemic.
Rock ‘N’ Drive-In opened in October 2020 with the mission of providing safe, family-friendly entertainment. And, yes, that includes live music.
19. Silver Moon Drive-In Theater
Location: Lakeland, Florida
Year opened: 1948
Highlights: This bustling drive-in opened its doors in 1848 and can fit up to 372 cars for a single film. It features two 80-foot-wide curved steel screens and visitors can either listen to the movies through their car radio or rent a radio for an additional fee.
Why the Silver Moon Drive-In Theater Is One of the Best
The Silver Moon Drive-In Theatre is beloved in the community not just for its drive-in offerings but also for its Swap Shop.
Every Saturday and Sunday, the drive-in grounds transform into a bustling open air market where you'll find tons of random odds and ends for sale or trade.
18. Sunshine Mill Winery and Drive-In Movie Theater
Location: The Dalles, Oregon
Year opened: 2020
Highlights: The Sunshine Mill might date back over 130 years — but the drive-in movie theater opened its doors just last year, another one in response to the pandemic. The Ongoing series happens three times a week — with throwbacks on Thursdays, movies for older audiences on Fridays and family-friendly movies on Saturdays.
Why the Sunshine Mill Winery and Drive-In Movie Theater Is One of the Best
The Sunshine Mill Winery and Drive-in Movie Theater might not have the retro appeal of an old-school drive-in, but it does come with a lot of historic significance.
The first property in The Dalles to have electricity and one of the oldest wineries in the area, this new drive-in pays homage to its roots by offering a specialized appetizer menu and different wine options for adults.
17. Admiral Twin Drive-In
Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Year opened: 1951
Highlights: The Admiral Twin Drive-In is located directly off Route 66 — which makes it super convenient for families hoping to catch a flick without a serious commute. The 70-year-old drive-in might look familiar to certain literature lovers, as it was featured in “The Outsiders” movie adaptation.
Why the Admiral Twin Drive-In Is One of the Best
This well-loved drive-in theater has remained one of Tulsa’s best attractions for a reason.
The classic venue makes catching a flick super accessible and even allows for groups to arrive in busses to watch the film together.
16. Transit Drive-In
Location: Lockport, New York
Year opened: 1952
Highlights: The Transit Drive-In offers multiple shows every single night (many drive-in cinemas only operate on weekends). The showtimes range from family-friendly blockbusters to classic cinema.
Why the Transit Drive-In Is One of the Best
Founders Irving and Mary Cohen had a long history of operating movie theaters with their first stand-alone theater opening in 1927. They ventured into the drive-in movie theater space in 1952 with the start of Transit Drive-In, and ever since, the venue has offered up a fun movie experience for visitors.
The business is still family-run and is one of the longest standing cinemas in the country.
15. The Comanche
Location: Buena Vista, Colorado
Year opened: 1966
Highlights: The New Digital Projection was installed in August 2018 and offers 4K digital clarity — but unlike other drive-in movie theatres, The Comanche still powers sound through your car’s FM radio.
Why the Comanche Is One of the Best
The Comanche might have been built in 1966, but it sat in squalor for quite some time before being restored and put back into action — and thank goodness.
The setting sits under soaring mountains, and guests can enjoy the sunset that falls perfectly behind the Collegiate peaks.
14. Swan Drive-In Theatre
Location: Blue Ridge, Georgia
Year opened: 1955
Highlights: This drive-in features blockbusters and is one of four remaining drive-in theaters in Georgia.
Why the Swan Drive-In Theatre Is One of the Best
This retro drive-in is one of the best if you’ve always dreamt of bringing your dog to the movies.
The pet- and family-friendly establishment is packed with old-school treats and amenities, including funnel cakes, nachos, tons of candy options and, of course, fresh popcorn.
13. Holiday Auto Theatre
Location: Hamilton, Ohio
Year opened: 1948
Highlights: The price of admission ($9.25/adult and $5.50/child) gets you two to three back-to-back flicks depending on the night.
Why the Holiday Auto Theatre Is One of the Best
Not only doesthe Holiday Auto Theatre offer great prices on blockbuster movies, it also pays homage to its roots by way of regular retro nights.
The cinema often plays throwback flicks (we’re talking from the 1950s and ’60s) for guests to experience on the big screen.
12. The Sunset Drive-In
Location: San Luis Obispo, California
Year opened: 1950
Highlights: The Sunset Drive-In is one of the very last remaining drive-in theaters in California, but it remains a community staple for its very affordable prices for families ($10/adult, $4/child and free for kids under 4) and double-feature films that screen every night.
Why the Sunset Drive-In Is One of the Best
This retro theater might be in its 70s — but the community staple stays as relevant as ever thanks to its top of the line equipment and extracurriculars that span beyond just cinema.
Those include live music and other community events.
11. The Sauerbeck Family Drive-In
Location: La Grange, Kentucky
Year opened: 2018
Highlights: Located about half an hour outside of Louisville, Sauerbeck offers weekly programming with double features that range from contemporary blockbusters to retro movies on Wednesdays. The cost per car is just $15.
Why the Sauerbeck Family Drive-In Is One of the Best
The Sauerbeck Family Drive In is a contemporary venture by Steven Sauerbeck.
The family-owned business aims to bring back the joys of filmgoing in an affordable and whimsical way that families of all ages can enjoy, regardless of budget.
10. Georgetown Drive-In
Location: Georgetown, Indiana
Year opened: 1952
Highlights: This 69-year-old drive-in took a recent hiatus but is back and better than ever.
Why the Georgetown Drive-In Is One of the Best
Located in Southern Indiana, this old-school drive-in stays as true to its original theatergoing roots as possible.
The cinema offers drive-in window speakers for the nostalgically inclined (but also offers stereo FM radio for anyone who wants a more crystal-clear sound).
9. Finger Lakes Drive-In
Location: Finger Lakes, New York
Year opened: 1947
Highlights: Finger Lakes Drive-In is New York’s oldest continually running drive-in for a reason. The family-friendly spot offers super affordable movies ($10 per ticket with free concessions!) and also hosts live music on a regular basis.
Why the Finger Lakes Drive-In Is One of the Best
The Finger Lakes Drive-In opened on July 15, 1947, and still uses speakers for its movies to this day. Guests can also tune in with their car radio at 101.9 FM for radio transmission.
Snacks include hot dogs, wings, nachos, mozzarella sticks and more.
8. The Ruskin Family Drive-In Theatre
Location: Ruskin, Florida
Year opened: 1952
Highlights: The Ruskin Family Drive-In Theatre has been serving Ruskin and South Hillsborough County since it debuted with “Singing in the Rain” over 60 years ago. It features a 2,000-square-foot screen and an abundance of snack options to suit every family member.
Why the Ruskin Family Drive-In Theatre Is One of the Best
This family-friendly spot prides itself on being the “last family drive-in” in the U.S. because of its diverse offerings for families, dating couples and everyone else looking to catch a good flick.
The snack bar is more like a diner and boasts everything from whole pizzas to homemade chili. In fact, the snacks are so popular that the drive-in offers takeout services to the community.
7. Vintage Drive-In Theater
Location: Finger Lakes, New York
Year opened: 1971
Highlights: In business for more than 50 years, this theater offers the perfect drive-in movie experience playing classic films, Hollywood favorites and thrillers. Ticket prices include two first-run movies with an intermission break between them.
Why the Vintage Drive-In Theater Is One of the Best
Another Finger Lakes theater perfect for vacationers to the area, the Vintage Drive-In Theater prides itself on its community involvement and the little extras it offers that make moviegoing so special. For instance, it has a “drive in radio show,” which plays for over an hour before the movie starts, meaning one ticket amounts to over five hours of entertainment!
The site also offers a mini golf course for a little extra adventure.
6. Nite Owl Drive-In
Location: Miami, Florida
Year opened: 2021
Highlights: This newly opened cinema experience in Miami features a brand-new DCP 4K projector that allows for the most crisp outdoor viewing experience possible. It costs $19.99 per car — but guests can also pay another $19.99 to get a whole slew of snack bar credits.
Why the Nite Owl Drive-In Is One of the Best
Nite Owl Drive-In is brand new to the drive-in scene — and does things a little differently than its elders.
The contemporary cinema typically plays anime, sci-fi, cult classics and other offbeat films right in the middle of downtown Miami.
5. Armature Works
Location: Tampa, Florida
Year opened: 1920
Highlights: This collaborative venture between Armature Works and Rooftop Cinema Club aims to bring affordable and socially distanced activities to the Tampa area. The drive-in charges just $22 per vehicle regardless of occupancy.
Why the Armature Works Is One of the Best
Located along the Riverwalk in downtown Tampa, the Armature Works hosts monthly drive-in movie nights set against an unmatched background: To the west is the winding river, with palm trees and overpasses breaking up the red-orange sunset.
Behind the drive-in grounds is the massive lawn where friends and families can sprawl out and enjoy. The property also offers fresh Cuban fare and desserts — so come hungry!
4. Hyde Park Drive-In Theater
Location: Hudson Valley, New York
Year opened: 1955
Highlights:Located less than two hours from Manhattan, this drive-in theater is a great option for those who want to escape the city in favor of a retro drive-in experience. The cinema offers classic radio audio and high-quality projectors.
Why the Hyde Park Drive-In Theater Is One of the Best
Bring a blanket or chair and set up in front of your car to experience the movie as comfortably as possible.
Guests can also stop by the snack bar for some freshly popped popcorn or a Hershey’s Ice Cream Express Milk Shake.
3. Jericho Drive-In Theater
Location: Capital Saratoga, New York
Year opened: 1956
Highlights: Operating since 1956, this drive-in theater is a one-screen, old-fashioned style outdoor movie theater where guests can enjoy fresh hot popcorn, ice cream and other treats from the safety of their own car.
Why the Jericho Drive-In Theater Is One of the Best
Move over, popcorn and nachos! The Jericho Drive-In Theater doesn’t just serve traditional concessions — they actually boast an onsite ice cream shop that includes classics like vanilla chocolate twist, shakes, malts and floats.
Moviegoers can also set up chairs and blankets outside their cars to get cozy under the stars.
2. The Holiday Twin Drive-In
Location: Fort Collins, Colorado
Year opened: 1968
Highlights: The Holiday Twin Drive-In in Fort Collins has been entertaining folks for over 50 years with its old-fashioned double features. It's the last remaining drive-in theater in Fort Collins and one of the few in the state.
Why the Holiday Twin Drive-In Is One of the Best
In addition to movies, the Holiday Twin hosts special events like music festivals, the FoCoMX Drive and Jive concert series and more.
The site also considers pets part of the family and grants furry friends entry without admission fees.
1. Stars & Stripes Drive-In Theatre
Location: Lubbock, Texas
Year opened: 2003
Highlights: Built on a Lubbock cotton farm, Stars & Stripes Drive-In Theatre was the first new drive-in theater to open in Texas in over 40 years.
Why the Stars & Stripes Drive-In Theatre Is One of the Best
Despite opening just under two decades ago, Stars & Stripes takes its retro roots to heart.
The all-season drive-in features a classic 1950s-style diner that’s open for dinner, drinks and concessions as well as traditional FM radio audio.