Visiting Every Drive In Movie Theater in America

Visiting Every Drive In Movie Theater in America

The very first drive in movie theater in America opened in New Jersey in 1933. The concept of watching movies outdoors from your car was so new and novel at that time that opening night drew people from at least 20 states.

At one point, drive-in theaters reached this peak popularity in the 1950s. Then, there were more than 4,000 drive-ins operating across the country.

Drive-in theaters becoming harder to find

However, by the late 1970s, drive-in movie theaters were on the decline. I think the last time I can remember going to a drive in with my family was the mid-1970s. Before then, going to the drive-in was a treat.

We’d get bathed for the evening and into our pajamas before heading to the local outdoor movie theater near my Long Island, New York home. Then, we’d climb onto the hood of the car to watch while our parents got alone time in the car. It was a win-win all around.

Most recently, during the pandemic, drive-ins enjoyed a small resurgence–or at least the experience of watching a movie outdoors did. That’s when pop-up outdoor theaters appeared to take the place of indoor ones that were closed. However, it did nothing to bring back the original drive ins that have been disappearing over time.

Remaining drive in movie theaters in America

According to, there are currently 177 drive-in theaters operating in 25 states. States with the highest number of drive-ins per capita are largely located in the Eastern half of the country as well as the Midwest.

This graphic below shows you where the largest concentration of remaining drive in movie theaters are in America.

Where are drive in theaters located

A map showing the number of drive-in movie theaters per 1 million residents.


The pandemic gave drive-in movie theaters a spurt of new popularity as people were eager to be entertained but wanted to stay outside. However, the difficulties drive-ins face are hard to overcome.

These difficulties range from the need for larger parcels of often expensive land to having to buy pricey high-resolution projectors to paying to show first-run movies. All of those expenses add up.

Nonetheless, here are the American states that still have at least one drive in movie theater for residents or visitors to enjoy.

Finally, in case you didn’t know, June 6 is National Drive In Movie Theater day. So, if you’re reading this article around that time of the year, consider taking yourself to a drive in movie theater near you.

(FL) Florida drive in movie theaters

Cars parked at the Nite Owl Drive-In Theater in Miami for screening.

Alexander Tamargo // Getty Images for HBO

The very first drive-in opened in Miami in 1938. Today, there are just five traditional drive-in theaters left in Florida.

The longest, continuously operating theater is the Silver Moon in Lakeland. It’s been an outdoor cinema since 1948.

The other remaining drive ins include:

  • Ocala Drive-in in Ocala
  • Ruskin Family Drive-in Theater in Ruskin
  • Joy-Lan Drive-in Dade City
  • Nite Owl Drive-in in Miami

(NJ) New Jersey drive in movie theater

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Until just a few years ago, there were two drive in movie theaters near the Jersey Shore. One of them was called the Circus Drive-In, and it was in Wall Township. Unfortunately, it closed in 2017 and was demolished soon thereafter.

Now, there is only one other outdoor movie theater in the Garden State. It is the Delsea Drive-in Theatre in Vineland, which is in South Jersey. They show films rain or shine!

(GA) Georgia drive ins

Starlight Drive-In marquee reads “Temporarily Closed” during the pandemic.

Paras Griffin // Getty Images

Georgia has just four drive-ins left in the state. The best known is the Starlight Drive-in Theatre on the outskirts of Atlanta. It has been showing movies outdoors since 1949.

Other spots in Georgia for a movie under the stars:

  • Swan Drive-in Theater in Blue Ridge
  • Tiger Drive-In Theater in Tiger
  • Jesup Drive-in in Jesup

(VA) Virginia drive in theaters

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The Family Drive-in Theatre in Stephens City advertises itself as the only drive-in theater in the Washington D.C. metro area. However, that’s a bit misleading as it is in Frederick County, Virginia, and about 90 minutes from the District of Columbia.

On the other hand, the remaining three drive-in movie theaters are scattered throughout the state. For example, Goochland Drive-in Theater is in Sandy Hook, which is close to the Virginia capital, Richmond. Goochland Drive In opened in 2009 but definitely has a retro vibe.

After that there is the Starlite Drive-in theater in Christiansburg, near Blacksburg, home of Virginia Tech, and Park Place Drive-In of Marion, which is ever farther west than Blacksburg is.

Sadly, there are no longer any drive in movie theaters at Virginia Beach, a popular vacation destination. However, if you’re looking for a hotel with a Peloton, there are plenty of places in the Virginia Beach area.

(CA) California drive ins

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When I think about drive-in movie theaters in California, immediately I think of the iconic movie “Grease.” If you’ve seen that movie with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John (among other stars), then you know that there are a number of pivotal scenes at the local drive in.

Those scenes were filmed at a Burbank drive in that no longer exists. However, the good news is that California is still home to at least two dozen drive-in theaters. You’ll find them both in Southern California and Northern California.

In fact, there is a bona fide theater chain in Northern California of drive ins. Called the West Wind Drive-ins, you’ll find them in the following places:

  • Concord
  • Sacramento
  • San Jose

West Wind Drive-Ins are also in Arizona and Nevada.

As far as the remaining California drive ins, according to, here you go:

  • South Bay Drive-In Theatre, San Diego
  • Santee Drive-In Movie Theatre, Santee
  • Paramount Drive-In Theatres, Paramount
  • Electric Dusk Drive-In, Glendale
  • Vineland Drive-In, City of Industry
  • Van Buren Drive-In Theatre, Riverside
  • Rubidoux Drive-In Theater, Riverside
  • Skyline Drive-In Theater, Barstow
  • Sunset Drive-In, San Luis Obispo
  • Madera 2 Drive-In, Madera
  • Lakeport Auto Movies Drive-In, Lakeport

(MO) Missouri theaters

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Missouri is home to a handful of drive in theaters. They include the Sunset Drive-In Theater in Aurora, which opened in 1951, and the the Rock ‘N’ Roll Drive-In of Blomeyer. This latter theater was revitalized in 2020 during the pandemic and has continued to be a popular spot to see movies ever since.

(MI) Drive in movie theaters in Michigan

Aerial view of Northfield Drive-In at sunset.

Gabe Shakour // Shutterstock

Northern Michigan is known for its cherries. So, it shouldn’t be surprising to find out that the name of one of the drive-ins here reflects that association.

What is it called? It’s the Cherry Bowl Drive-in Theatre in Honor, which is southwest of Traverse City. This theater opened in 1954.

Farther south and in the Detroit suburbs, you’ll find the Ford-Wyoming Drive-In in Dearborn. At one time it was the country’s largest drive-in-theater with nine screens and parking for 3,000 cars. However, in recent years the theater shrunk its capacity to a max of 2,500 cars. Still, that’s pretty impressive.

Northwest of Dearborn is another popular spot to see a drive-in movie. It is in Plymouth, Michigan, and that’s where you’ll find the Summer Drive In at USA Hockey Arena.

In other words, each summer, the parking lot for this hockey arena is transformed into a drive-in movie theater.

(WA) Washington State Theaters

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According to AAA, Washington State has five drive-in movie theaters still open and showing movies. They are:

  • Auto-Vue Drive-in Theatre, Colville
  • Blue Fox Drive-In, Whidbey Island
  • Rodeo Drive-In Theater, Bremerton
  • Skyline Drive-In Movie Theater, Shelton
  • Wheel-In Motor Movie, Port Townsend

The Skyline Drive-In Theater in Shelton featured “Lady and The Tramp” and “Billy Budd” on its opening night in 1964.

On the other hand, the Rodeo Drive-in Theater in Bremerton was originally the “Rodeo Motor Movies.” It was built in 1949 as part of the United Drive-Ins chain and claims it is the largest outdoor theater complex north of California.

(MN) Minnesota

Cars arrive at Litchfield Star Lite Drive-In.

MARLIN LEVISON // Star Tribune via Getty Images

Of the remaining drive-in movie theaters in Minnesota, none are in Minneapolis, unfortunately. In fact, the closest you’ll get to Minneapolis (a great place for outdoor art destinations) is the Starlite Drive-In in Litchfield. It’s a little over an hour west of Minneapolis.

Now, the Long Drive-In Theater in Long Prairie is worth visiting if you like camping. That’s because it is one of the few drive-in theaters in America that allow you to stay overnight. So, when making reservations for the movies, you can also reserve a spot for your tent or RVs.

Finally, two other drive-ins in Minnesota are the Verne Drive-In Theater in Luverne, and the Sky-Vu Drive-In Theatre in Warren.

(TX) Texas outdoor movie theaters

Restored Mission Drive-in Theatre in South San Antonio.

xradiophotog // Shutterstock

You know how they say that everything is bigger in Texas? Well, when it comes to drive in movie theaters, that’s true, too.

You see, at one point Texas had more drive-ins than any other place in America. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case. However, there are still noteworthy drive-ins worth mentioning.

On the one hand, there is the Big Sky Drive-In Theatre. Its name celebrates the big sky of the West Texas Permian Basin between Midland and Odessa.

On the other hand, there is The Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In in Austin, which accommodates only 15 to 40 cars per night. So, it’s a more intimate setting for seeing a movie outdoors.

(CO) Colorado drive in theaters

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The only original drive-in still open in the greater Denver area, the 88 Drive-In Theatre in Commerce dates to 1972. On the other hand, there is the Holiday Twin Drive-In of Fort Collins, a Denver suburb. It shows both classic and modern movies.

Finally, from time to time, the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, a popular outdoor concert venue near Denver, will transform its parking lot into an outdoor movie theater. There, you can drive in and park to watch the featured film.

(OK) Oklahoma drive ins

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Of the three drive-in movie theaters in Oklahoma, two are of note, in my opinion. One is the Winchester Drive-In Theatre in Oklahoma City. There, moviegoers at this OKC drive in are greeted by a vintage neon cowboy. The landmark has been in operation since 1968.

And, two, there is the Admiral Twin Drive-In is just off Route 66 in Tulsa. It was a featured player, if you will, in Francis Ford Coppola’s famous drive-in movie scene in “The Outsiders.”

(UT) Utah drive in theater

Cars at entrance to Mount Pleasant’s Basin Drive-In.

George Frey // Getty Images

One of the best-known and beloved drive in movie theaters in Utah is the Redwood Drive in Theatre. It’s located in West Valley City and shows films every Friday and Saturday. It’s been an outdoor movie favorite for the Salt Lake area since 1948.

Then there is the Basin Drive In, located in Mount Pleasant, Utah. It shows movies in two-week cycles. This summer the live-action “The Little Mermaid” film was really popular.

(NY) New York drive in movie theaters

Photo courtesy of Skyline Drive In NYC

For some reason, there are New Yorkers that tend to refer to these outdoor movie theaters as drive through theaters as opposed to drive-in theaters. As a native New Yorker, I didn’t grow up saying this. Then again, I’m from downstate. Maybe it’s an upstate New York thing?

Anyway, New York still has a ton of drive-in theaters. By one count, there are 18 of them still around. This includes one NYC drive in movie theater.

It’s called the Skyline Drive In, because it has a great view of the NYC skyline. The drive-in itself is on the East River waterfront in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Also, since not everything in New York City has a car, it also has parking for bikes and scooters.

There’s even a Groupon for the Skyline Drive In to save you money on admission.

As far as “vintage” drive ins go, the Finger Lakes Drive-In of Auburn is New York’s oldest open-air theater. It dates from 1947.

Finally, an article in Hudson Valley Magazine outlines many more New York State drive-in movie theaters that are still up and running.

(WI) Wisconsin Drive In

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The Skyway Drive-In Theatre in Door County, Wisconsin, opened in 1950 and is now the longest continuously running drive-in found in the state. It remains a one-screen theater and it continues to show cartoon advertisements created decades ago before each movie starts. How fun.

Another noteworthy drive in, of the six left in Wisconsin, is the Big Sky Drive In Theatre in Wisconsin Dells. Everyone just calls it the Wisconsin Dells Drive In, even though that’s not its official name.

(KS) Kansas drive in theater

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Kansas has only three drive-ins left in the state. Not surprisingly, strong winds and possibly a tornado have torn down some of the older screens, rendering these drive-in theaters useless. However, others persist.

One such example is Kansas City’s Boulevard Drive-In. It says it is the first drive-in theater anywhere to install digital sound and 4K resolution digital projection. So, you’re getting a first-rate film experience from your car–nice.

(TN) Tennessee drive in movie theater

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Tennessee has an impressive number of drive in theaters. By my count, there are eight in popular places like Memphis and Knoxville.

One of the better known ones is the Stardust Drive-In Theatre in Watertown. And what it’s known for is the Retro Wednesdays movies.

Some of the showings this summer include “Steel Magnolias” from 1989, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” from 1982 and “Back to the Future” from 1985.

On the other hand, The Parkway Drive-In in Maryville, aka the Maryville TN Drive In, shows current movies and does so rain or shine. However, there is one weather event when the show will not go on. And that’s if there is a tornado warning in the area.

(KY) Kentucky drive ins

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Even though the Sauerbeck Family Drive-In is located in La Grange, most people refer to it as the drive in movie theater in Louisville, Kentucky. Clearly, it’s a popular place as, over the years, people have tried to get a free show by watching from the street. So, recently, the theater repositioned its screens to minimize any view from the road.

Another popular Kentucky drive in is in Paris; it’s called the Bourbon Drive In.

Finally, in the past year two of Kentucky’s six drive-ins have closed down for good. They were located in Franklin and Somerset.

(OH) Ohio Drive In Theatres

Blue Sky Drive-In in Wadsworth.

AProvchy // Shutterstock

Not surprisingly, the Wadsworth, Ohio Blue Sky Drive in is decorated in an iconic blue shade, such as the back of the screen shown above.

At the Field of Dreams Drive-In Theater in Liberty Center, you can play free games of putt-putt golf, corn hole and sand volleyball before the movies begin. It is one of Ohio’s newest drive ins, since it opened in 2007. Then, in 2010, the owners added a second screen.

Finally, you’ll discover drive-in movie theaters in or near most of Ohio’s major cities and towns, including Canton, Cleveland and Cincinnati.

(IN) Indiana drive in theaters

Photo courtesy of Holiday Drive In

You’ll be amazed at how many working drive in movie theaters Indiana has. And this includes at least one screen in the Indianapolis area.

Therefore, here are the names and locations of Indiana drive in theaters you may want to visit this summer:

(PA) Pennsylvania Drive in Theater

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Supposedly, there are 20 drive-ins you could visit in Pennsylvania. However, despite living in the Keystone State for nearly two decades, I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never been to one.

So, don’t be like me. Instead, make it a point to visit one of these fabulous drive-in movie theaters in Pennsylvania.

At the Mahoning Drive-In Theater in Lehighton you can enjoy a retro 35 mm film program. That means that the movies are shown reel-to-reel via the original 1940s Simplex projectors. I guess it’s no surprise that this theater first opened in 1949.

Other noteworthy PA drive ins theaters, including those in Pittsburgh and the Poconos, are:

(ID) Idaho drive ins

A giant potato on the back of a truck at the Spud Drive-In Theater in Teton Valley.

Karen Desjardin // Getty Images

It’s uncertain if the Spuds Drive In theater in Driggs, Idaho, will open this year. However, there is at least one other drive-in theater in Idaho where you can enjoy an outdoor film from the comfort of your car. And that place would be Parma Motor Vu, which has been around since 1953.

(ME) Maine Drive In Movie Theaters

Photo courtesy of Prides Corner Drive In

The Narrow Gauge Drive-In in Farmington opened the 2023 season with screenings of “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.” The drive-in mixes movies with live music shows.

On the other hand, the Skowhegan Drive-In, which opened in 1954, is a bit more old school.

Finally, there are three other noteworthy drive-in movie theaters in Southern Maine. They are in:

  • Bridgton
  • Saco
  • Westbrook

(VT) Vermont drive ins

Drive-in movie screen on summer day.


Vermont has three noteworthy drive in movie theaters. One, the Fairlee Drive-In Theater in Fairlee, which also has a motel. The theater came first in 1950. Then, six motel rooms followed a decade later in 1960.

Two, there is the Bethel Drive-In in Bethel. It opened in 1954. Today, it operates on weekends from early June to Labor Day.

Finally, there is the Sunset Drive-In in Colchester. It’s been around since 1948 and has a whopping four screens showing films outdoors. This theater is close to Burlington.

Data reporting by Elena Cox. Story editing by Jeff Inglis. Copy editing by Tim Bruns. Photo selection by Elizabeth Ciano.

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