11 Surviving Drive-Ins You Can Visit This Summer
By Alvin Ward
Watching a movie from the comfort of the driver’s seat with hundreds of your closest friends is a disappearing treat, but you can still find an iconic drive-in if you know where to look. These 11 are worth the drive.
1. 66 DRIVE-IN, CARTHAGE, MISSOURI
This classic drive-in was reopened in 1998 after being closed for thirteen years. It’s most famous for its neon, art deco marquee. Movies are shown on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.
2. CHERRY BOWL DRIVE-IN THEATRE & DINER, HONOR, MICHIGAN
jimflix!, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The Cherry Bowl still uses the original speaker posts for that authentic old-time feel. Be sure to come hungry—the diner offers chili cheese fries, ribs, sweets, and other delicious snacks that trump multiplex popcorn any day of the week.
3. HULL’S DRIVE IN, LEXINGTON, VIRGINIA
has the distinction of being the only non-profit drive-in theater in the world. Thanks to generous donors, the theater is able to stay open and show movies on weekends every summer.
4. SPUD DRIVE-IN THEATRE, DRIGGS, IDAHO
jpc.raleigh, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
The Spud is a true Idaho original, named after the potato farms that surround it. Briefly closed in 2011, the theater is now back in operation and also serves as a concert venue.
5. WELLFLEET DRIVE-IN THEATRE, WELLFLEET, MASSACHUSETTS
As Cape Cod’s only drive-in, this Wellfleet mainstay is the only movie theater in the world where you can eat oysters while watching a flick. When not showing movies at night, the lot serves as a bustling flea market on summer weekends.
6. WILDERNESS OUTDOOR MOVIE THEATER, TRENTON, GEORGIA
Catch a movie in the great outdoors at this Georgia drive-in. The massive screens on which it shows first-run movies are some of the biggest in the world.
7. BENGIES DRIVE-IN THEATRE, BALTIMORE, MARYLAND
Michael Kilgore, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
has been a Baltimore institution since 1956. Figuring out movie times is easy—the night’s first show starts with the sunset.
8. MISSION TIKI DRIVE-IN THEATRE, MONTCLAIR, CALIFORNIA
Pay at a thatch-roofed hut and drive past a replica Easter Island head to get to this tiki-themed California drive-in. The Mission encapsulates a specific brand of mid-century exotic Americana like nowhere else.
9. REDWOOD DRIVE-IN THEATRE, WEST VALLEY CITY, UTAH
Bill Eichelberger, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
Beautiful surroundings and great weather make for a perfect night at this Utah drive-in. A trip to the classic concession stand helps complete the time-warp feel during your visit.
10. CUMBERLAND DRIVE-IN THEATRE, NEWVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA
InAweofGod'sCreation, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
This immaculately preserved drive-in has been in the same family since its opening in 1952. The Newville area’s dark skies help picture quality, so support a classic theater by treating yourself to a great American night out.
11. MOONLITE THEATRE, ABINGDON, VIRGINIA
was opened in 1949 and earned a listing on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. Here’s hoping more drive-ins receive this honor in the future so these American originals get the preservation and attention they deserve.