Drive-in movies

At the Drive-In: Plan a Perfect Evening of Family Fun

The mention of a trip to the drive-in movies might evoke memories of golden days gone by. While there may not be as many drive-ins as during their late 1950s peak, there are still 337 across the country, according to the U.S. Drive In Theatre Owners Association. All but five state have a drive-in, says the UDITOA, making them a entertaining family activity opportunity for most Americans. (Kudos to Pennsylvania, which boasts the highest number of any state, with more than 30.) Here are a few essentials to make your family’s drive-in outing a fun and memorable experience.

Know Before You Go

Though there are drive-in cinemas in most states, some areas feature more than others. According to, every state boasts at least 1 drive-in theater except Alaska, Delaware, Louisiana and North Dakota. Plan ahead for your outing by finding the one nearest you. features a searchable database containing the locations of all the nation’s drive-ins. Be sure to also research specific drive-ins’ schedules and pet policies. Some open only during weekends, and pet policies since various locations have different rules, says Arriving early to secure the best viewing location is also important.

Since drive-ins are community venues, it’s good to be mindful of others while visiting. That means avoiding honking, turning headlights on others, or intruding into others’ space on site, says Ensuring you don’t block anyone else’s view is always polite and appreciated.

Finally, and Mission Tiki Drive-In encourage visitors to patronize their snack counters. Since most drive-ins make the majority of their money from concessions (and not the movie tickets), outside food and beverage are discouraged. Help keep the American drive-in tradition alive by purchasing tickets and snacks on-site.

What to Bring

  • The audio soundtrack of drive-in films are often relayed via radio. If you want to watch the movie outside your vehicle (or if you’d like a back-up in case your car’s radio malfunctions), consider bringing a battery-operated portable F.M. and A.M. radio, says The Showboat Drive-In.
  •  Many drive-ins, such as Mission Tiki and The Showboat, allow viewers to sit outside their vehicles, so long as they remain within their assigned space and don’t block others’ views. Though policies differ by venue, consider bringing foldable lawn chairs or towels for your outdoor viewing pleasure.
  • Mission Tiki recommends bug repellent during the summer months – especially if you plan on having the windows down or sitting outside.

A trip to the drive-in movies can be a terrific way to share some quality family time – especially on warmer summer nights. With a little preparation, you can enjoy the fun of watching the film stars on screen – while sitting under the stars in the sky. Happy viewing!

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