Think back to the 14th time you watched Grease. The guys pull up in one car and the girls in another — saddle shoes, leather jackets, and high school drama in spades — to see a movie at the drive-in theatre. And even though they start to sing over that great commercial where the hot dog jumps into the bun, the romance is not lost on us. Despite Danny lamenting his loneliness in front of the screen once the movie’s actually started, the scene just makes us wonder why so many drive-in theatres have gone dark since those hair-gelled days.
Luckily, since the early 2000s, there’s been a renewed love for drive-in movies and outdoor screens, from the Hollywood Forever Cemetery screenings in Los Angeles to the Raleigh Road Drive-In, which opened in 1949 and is still going strong. Don’t get us wrong, our local AMC plays movies practically every 20 minutes, which we appreciate, but the classic drive-in movie seems a novel, if irresistible, alternative for any movie night — be it a first date or just a Tuesday. And, popcorn, gummies, hot dogs, and orange sodas add an old school allure to blockbusters like The Green Lantern or Harry Potter.
Where some now host swap meets for the community, like the Mission Tiki Theatre and the Silver Moon Drive-In, others offer arcade games, barbecues to cook on, and one (the 88 Drive-in in Colorado) even sponsors a local race car and driver. But even without bonuses like these, the savings and convenience of drive-ins are ideal for travelers and locals alike. Most of them offer double features for the price of one, inexpensive concessions, and families don’t have to get the kids all dressed up, since they’ll just be watching from the car!
So whether you’re looking for a unique stop on a summer road trip or an original Friday night plan, check out this slideshow of 9 classic drive-ins still serving ice cream sundaes, onion rings, and funnel cakes to moviegoers beneath the stars.