Movies, Popcorn and Passion: The Best Drive-In Theaters in America

Warwick Drive-In Theatre in Warwick, New York

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Warwick Drive-In Theatre in Warwick, New York
Jason P./Yelp

The (Really) Big Screen

Drive-in theaters may not be as numerous as they were when car culture first took off in the 1950s, but many are still around to provide an inimitable viewing experience, especially with innovations in online food orders and ticket sales and to-your-car-door concession delivery. For families with van loads of kids wanting to see "Barbie," which is opening this weekend, drive-in prices are often a bargain compared with their indoor counterparts. We researched online reviews and compared rankings to find some favorites nationwide that are always a cheap way to enjoy a movie or two ... or three.  

Prices are subject to change.

Parma Motor-Vu in Parma, Idaho
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Parma Motor-Vu

Parma, Idaho

The Parma Motor-Vu, still family-owned after 70 years. It shows weekend double features, charging $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $4 for children 4 to 11. Admission is free for kids under 4, and dogs are welcome at screenings. Concessions include pizza, hot dogs, popcorn and pickles.  

West Wind Drive-In in Glendale, Arizona
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West Wind Drive-In

Glendale, Arizona

One of few remaining chains specializing in drive-in theaters, West Wind has several locations in the western United States, each offering an enormous screen with impressive digital projection. Guests get the best value on Tuesdays, when adult tickets cost only $6 per person, down from $9 on other nights. Children ages 5 to 11 always cost only $2.

El Rancho 4 in Sparks, Nevada
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El Rancho Drive-In

Sparks, Nevada

Also owned by West Wind, this Reno-area theater is known for offering single, double and triple features, and has sometimes paired new-release movies of vastly different styles, making for an enjoyably quirky viewing experience. Prices remain the same for these double features: $8.25 for adults and $2 for kids 5 to 11. The El Rancho also has a Tuesday bargain price of $5.75 for adults.  

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The Showboat Drive-In Theater in Hockley, Texas
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The Showboat Drive-In Theater

Hockley, Texas

The Showboat specializes in double features in its rural spot on the edge of Houston's metropolitan area.

Star Drive-In Theatre in Montrose, Colorado
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Star Drive-In Theatre

Montrose, Colorado

Admission is always free for children under 11 at the Star Drive-In. Adult admission is $9, and $7 for seniors 60 and over, but that drops to $5 for all adults on Tuesdays. The nightly double features begin at dusk, but arrive early to buy tickets and sample the homemade burgers and fries from the concessions stand. This year, the Star is marking its 74th year of continuous family ownership. 

Related: Historic Movie Theaters Across America Worth Visiting

Wilderness Outdoor Movie Theater in Trenton, Georgia
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Wilderness Outdoor Movie Theater

Trenton, Georgia

Moviegoers can enjoy double features for the price of $7 per guest at the Wilderness Theater. Concessions range from burgers and chili dogs to cappuccino.

skyline drive-in
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Skyline Drive-In

New York

It might be tough to concentrate on the big screen at this drive-in — what with the glittering Manhattan skyline distracting you off in the distance. The Skyline theater is on the East River, and its panoramic views of the Big Apple make it a one-of-a-kind drive-in experience. A car with up to seven passengers can get in for $55; there are $19.50 seating spots for people without cars.

Related: Free or Cheap Things to Do in New York City

Motor Vu Theater in Erda, Utah
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Erda Drive-In

Erda, Utah

At the Erda Drive-In, admission for a double feature on any weekend night is $8.50 for adults and $6 for kids under 12, little changed after a purchase from the family who ran the drive-in for 60 years.

Silver Moon Drive-In Theatre
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Silver Moon Drive-In Theatre

Lakeland, Florida

This 75-year-old drive-in, about a half-hour east of Tampa, shows first-run movies and double features seven nights a week. The snack bar serves classics such as pizza, corn dogs, nachos, and candy. Admission prices are tough to beat: $3 for children 4-9 and $8 for 10 and older.  

Admiral Twin Drive-In in Tulsa, Oklahoma
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Admiral Twin Drive-In

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Movie fans can head over to the Admiral's twin screens for a double feature costing $9 per adult and $5 per child ages 11 to 3. Like most drive-ins, the theater survives on its food sales, and patrons are urged to take advantage of the Admiral snack bar's all-American grilled and fried favorites.  

Harvest Moon Twin Drive-In Movie Theatre in Gibson City, Illinois
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Harvest Moon Twin Drive-In Movie Theatre

Gibson City, Illinois

In the green plains of central Illinois, the Harvest Moon Twin charges $9 per adult and $7 for children 4 through 11. Bring in outside food with the purchase of a $5 permit. Pets are allowed. Customers also have the option to reserve a front-row spot for $10.

Goochland Drive-In Theater in Hadensville, Virginia
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Goochland Drive-In Theater

Hadensville, Virginia

The Goochland Drive-In charges $27 for a carload of up to seven people and boasts of having the “lowest menu prices around” at a snack bar with such treats as tater tots ($3.25) and the Gooch Dog ($5.85). No outside food is allowed in.

Blue Fox Drive-In Theater in Oak Harbor, Washington
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Blue Fox Drive-In Theater

Oak Harbor, Washington

This drive-in on Washington's scenic Whidbey Island is more than just a theater — it also boasts an old-school arcade and go-kart facilities where you can buy $20- to $30-per-person party packages and bring a group. Admission to the Blue Fox is only $6.50 per adult and $1 for kids (cash price), and there are weekly specials on concessions. 

Related: Bars With Arcades That Are Worth Your Quarters

Rodeo Drive-In Theatre in Bremerton, Washington
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Rodeo Drive-In Theatre

Bremerton, Washington

Washington state's largest outdoor cinema complex, the Rodeo Drive-In shows new double features on three screens from early March until the end of September. Admission is $12 per adult and $7 for seniors and kids, 5 to 12. The theater includes a full-service concession stand with a signature meal known as a pizza dog. 

Related: Where to Order the Most Extreme Hot Dogs Across the Country

Sunset Drive-In in San Luis Obispo, California
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Sunset Drive-In

San Luis Obispo, California

This theater is just off scenic Highway 101 and shows new films seven nights a week for admission prices ranging from $5 per child (5-11) to $11 per adult. Swap meets are held in the car park by day on Sundays. The theater box office now opens at 7:30 p.m. for film screenings posted on the theater's Facebook page.  

Silver Bow Drive-In in Butte, Montana
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Silver Bow Drive-In

Butte, Montana

Enjoy stargazing and a single feature seven nights a week in Big Sky Country at the Silver Bow Drive-In. Ticket price is only $7 for adults and children — cash only. Guests can also come on foot, but they will need a portable radio to hear audio. Customers who wish to avoid concession lines and bring their own food can purchase a food permit for $5. 

Starlite Drive-In in Wichita, Kansas
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Starlite Drive-In

Wichita, Kansas

The Starlite is just one of many theaters operating under this name across America. It's notable for its twin screens showing double features. Tickets to see two movies are $9 per adult and $5 for children ages 5 to 11. The Starlite also offers season passes for $99.

Big Sky Twin Drive-In Theatre in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Big Sky Twin Drive-In Theatre

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

One of Wisconsin's few remaining drive-ins, Big Sky normally stays open from early May until fall showing two-packs of new releases at dusk every night of the week for $10 per adult and $5 per child. Since it advertises itself as the "home of the Big Mamaburger," you probably shouldn't pass one up — or opt for a homemade sloppy Joe.

B&B Theatres Twin Drive-In in Independence, Missouri

B&B Theatres Twin Drive-In

Independence, Missouri

The B&B shows double features beginning at dusk for $22 per carload. Customers have praised its fun family atmosphere.

Georgetown Drive-In in Georgetown, Indiana
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Georgetown Drive-In

Georgetown, Indiana

At $12 per adult and $6 per child, the prices at the Georgetown Drive-In aren't the best. But the classic drive-in experience at this well-located theater near Louisville, Kentucky, is top-notch, with concessions and an onsite playground for kids. The theater is also marking its 72nd season.

South Drive-In Theatre in Columbus, Ohio

South Drive-In Theatre

Columbus, Ohio

Come Sunday through Thursday for the $8.50 admission deal to the South Drive-In's  double features. On weekends and holidays, the adult price jumps to $10 (it's always $2 for kids 5 through 11), while the concessions menu stays cheap throughout the week with $3.25 quarter-pound burgers. On certain days, the facility also hosts an enormous flea market billed as "200 yard and garage sales in one location."

Bengies Drive-In Theatre in Middle River, Maryland
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Bengies Drive-In Theatre

Middle River, Maryland

This theater near Baltimore claims it has the largest theater screen in the nation, measuring an astonishing 6,240 square feet and now charges like it — admission is $12.50 per adult and $7 for children, in jumps from the previous year. In the past, the theater has hosted multi-film dusk-to-dawn movie events. There is also a children's playground and an extensive snack bar menu, and audience-participation features.   

Mendon Twin Drive-In in Mendon, Massachusetts

Mendon Twin Drive-In

Mendon, Massachusetts

Load the entire family into a single car for this theater, which charges $33 per vehicle for its nightly double features. The new releases shown during summer switch to retro classics for September, and then horror movies for October. The theater also has a fully stocked snack bar with separate facilities for an ice cream shop and a beer garden that serves drafts, wine, and sangria.

Warwick Drive-In Theatre in Warwick, New York
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Warwick Drive-In Theatre

Warwick, New York

Little has changed about the drive-in experience since the Warwick Drive-In first opened in 1950, though ticket prices have certainly gone up — now at $13 per adult and $9 for children for recent double features showing seven nights a week.   

88 Drive-In Theatre in Commerce City, Colorado
88 Drive-In by Michael Kilgore (CC BY-NC)

88 Drive-In Theatre

Commerce City, Colorado

It's only $10 per person and free for kids under 12 to watch three films in a row at the 88 Drive-In Theatre, one of Denver's few remaining drive-ins. This year, the 88 is marking its 47th season. Come Monday through Thursday to get two 16-ounce drinks with the purchase of a pizza ($15).

South Bay Drive-In Theatre in San Diego
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South Bay Drive-In Theatre

San Diego

Not far from the Mexican border, it's only fitting that this drive-in distinguishes itself from competitors with Mexican food offerings, such as carne asada nachos. The South Bay Drive-In boasts three screens showing nightly double features of recent releases, charging $10 for adults and $1 for children 5 to 9.

Coyote Drive-In Theater & Canteen in Fort Worth, Texas
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Coyote Drive-In Theater & Canteen

Fort Worth, Texas

The Coyote Drive-In shows single features, charging $8 for adults, $5 for kids ages 5 to 11, and free for younger children, though on Wednesdays prices drop to $5 for all. Concessions include Texas-style treats such as nachos and funnel cakes, and can be delivered to your vehicle.

Saco Drive-In in Saco, Maine

Saco Drive-In

Saco, Maine

The southern Maine tradition of the Saco Drive-In is getting a shakeup by moving under the Aquaboggan Water Park banner and upping prices to $25 per car for up to three occupants from $15, with a $5 charge for each additional occupant. The theater reopened this past Memorial Day. 

Related: 50 Iconic Movie Locations Around the World