The Best Drive-In Theatres

In The United States

[See Them Before They're Gone]

by Bill Flitter

Going to a drive-in theater to watch a movie, once a popular American pastime, is declining quickly. Dating back to the 50s and 60s—when there was a reported 4,000 drive in movie theaters spread across the country—that number has dwindled to 322 according to Drive-ins.com. But going to a drive-in movie theater is still a special treat, especially for kids.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in a pickup, an SUV, or a station wagon, you can configure your car so that everyone gets a good seat and, if not, you can be like the people next to you and set up lawn chairs and sit alongside the car. Some people just sit on the hood.

Take my advice though, if you’re planning to go, do it soon, before the drive-in theater near you closes down.

Going to a drive-in theater to watch a movie once was a popular American pastime.

Date Night Idea: A Drive-In Theater!

Nothing says date night, cars and nostalgia quite like a drive-in theater. Explaining to your kids that, “Grandpa, grandma and your aunts and I would hop into the station wagon, drive to a theater and watch a movie from the car,” may invoke a confused response. You may hear something like, “You mean you didn’t have your own screen (in the head-rest).”

Then you can launch into explaining all the entertainment features of grandpa’s station wagon, including the 8-track or cassette tapes.

But, this begs the question, what are the top drive-in theaters in America? Well, USA Today had the same question and came up with a list of 10 of the best in 2016; however, 2 of them are now closed (so, hurry while they last!):

99W Drive-In

Newberg, OR

If you live in Oregon, you can head over to this historic theater, which was built in 1953, for nightly showings at 7pm, or their matinees on the weekend. Right now you can catch Guardians of the Galaxy Volume II!

Capri Drive-In Theater

Coldwater, MI

Residents of Coldwater, MI, have been enjoying the Capri since 1964. You gotta love a theater that features the Snack Bar on their website. Looks like you can enjoy many tasty treats while watching your movie, from pickles to nachos to pizza to cheeseburgers. Just watch the spills in the backseat!

Did you know...

The first drive in movie theatre was opened in Camden, New Jersey in June of 1933!

Harvest Moon Twin Drive-In Movie Theatre

Gibson City, IL

Did you know that at the Harvest Moon they will still show movies even if it rains? Did you know that they only show movies on the weekend and only in the Spring? You can learn all this and more on their very informative site.

Midway Drive-In Theatre

Minetto, NY

A bit of sad news on this one: the theater closed! The good news is: it will reopen in April after remodeling! They don’t have a movie listed for mid-April yet, but I’m willing to bet it’s something good.

Midway Drive-In Theater

Becky's Drive-In Theatre

Walnutport, PA

The cool thing about Becky’s Drive-In theater is that she has a poll on the front page of her site asking you to vote on which movies to show. Right now, she’s taking votes for June… hmmm, do I want to vote for The Mummy or Captain Underpants?

Skyview Drive-In

Belleville, IL

The Skyview is up with the times, they have a notice on their site that all movies now play through FM radio instead of the speaker. Way to go Skyview!

Did you know...

The second drive in movie theater to open was Shankweiler’s Drive-in in Orefield, PA, in 1934. It is still open today and is, in fact,  the oldest operating drive-in theater in the world!

Motor VU Drive-In

Dallas, OR

This one is another sad case: it closed in 2016, probably right after the USA Today poll ran. It had a good long life starting in 1953 and it’s still a family run business with other indoor movie locations.

Admiral Twin Drive-In

Tulsa, OK

The Admiral Twin is still open and they advise you to arrive early as long lines start to form closer to showtime. You might want to make this one a date night, as they only show movies on the weekends. Oh, BTW, did you know the Admiral Twin Drive-in is along the famous Route 66?

You might want to make the Admiral Theater in Tulsa, OK a date night

Mansfield Drive-In Theatre & Marketplace

Mansfield Center, OK

At the Mansfield, if you buy your tickets online, you’ll save! What a great tip for those planning to see the latest movies from the comfort of their own car. They too feature the Snack Bar on the website…Did you know they have clam fritters on the menu? I’m sure that fried tasty goodness won’t leave a smell in your car.

66 Drive-In

Carthage, MO

After looking at the 66 Drive-in site, what I noticed immediately is that they have a link to the weather forecast. How awful would that be to pull up in your pick up, angle the tires on the bump just right, set up your blankets and pillows in the bed of the truck, place your snacks within grabbing distance, only to have a thunder cloud open up directly overhead? Yikes!

66 Drive-In Theatre

Over to You

Where’s your favorite drive-in theater? What do you think is the best type of vehicle for a drive-in: a hatchback, an SUV, a pickup, or maybe you still prefer a station wagon with the kids in the way back watching a different movie from a different screen (that’s how I saw Star Wars for the first time, by watching a screen playing behind us while my family watched the Cat from Outer Space.)