This California drive-in takes advantage of its built-in nostalgia by hosting classic movie nights (think Bonnie & Clyde, Lolita, and To Catch a Thief) on top of its regular programming like Pirates of the Caribbean and The Hangover II. Known around town for their weekend swap meets and regular events, the Mission Tiki also serves old school snacks like popcorn, hot dogs, and even nachos out of their tiki hut/concession stand.
Minnesota’s Vali-Hi drive-in earns points for its name alone. But its three screens, showing big summer blockbusters in stereo sound (or with FM hook-ups), come with extra buttery popcorn, the chance to tailgate before the feature film, and arcade games for the kids. They’re also dog-friendly!
Located in North Carolina, the Raleigh Road drive-in opened in 1949 and is one of only three remaining drive-ins along the historic Highway #1, which goes from Maine to Florida. Despite changing hands more than a few times since opening (the current owners bought in on eBay!), the theatre is a well-preserved reminder of a bygone era. Their concession stand serves perfect moviegoer fare like chili dogs with cheese, hamburgers, fried cheese sticks, and crinkle cut French fries to patrons seeing films like, appropriately, Cars 2.
A hop, skip, and a jump from Denver, Colo., the 88 Drive-In is everything an open-air-loving moviegoer could want — funnel cakes, twisted pretzel dogs, flavored pickles, and nachos all served by their old school one-screen format. They also let children under 12 watch for free!
West Chicago (a Chicago suburb) is home to the Cascade Drive-In, which is a dog- and kid-friendly drive-in that hosts double features, come rain or shine. Arrive early to take advantage of their picnic area with a barbecue for patrons to cook their own food or be swayed by their old school concessions commercials (much like the ones from Grease) and pick up some popcorn, sodas, and candy.
Pull into the Capri Drive-In in Coldwater, Mich., order a hot cocoa or an ice cream sandwich and settle in. Even if you’ve been dragged to see a movie that wasn’t your top choice (Mr. Popper’s Penguins?), you’re still watching on a big screen with mountains and open air surrounding it and you’re able to bring Fido with you. We’re not usually big proponents of paraphernalia, but even their bright t-shirts have an old-fashioned charm.
Imagine pulling up to New York’s Elmira theatre in the 1950s (one of the oldest in the country) to watch Gentlemen Prefer Blondes on the big screen with a Coca Cola in one hand and a bucket of hot popcorn in the other. With a recently added second screen, the Elmira is still kicking and even doles out door prizes to lucky moviegoers who take their ticket stub to the concession stand. They may be screening Transformers now, but the nostalgia is ever-apparent.
Lakeland, Fla. has seen throngs of moviegoers watching double features under the stars for 60 years. The Silver Moon theatre is a much-loved institution with fans clamoring about their made-to-order pizza and delicious corn dogs. They’ve got a flea market every weekend and double features nightly on the cheap, giving Floridians very little excuse to skip it.
Since 1951, the Georgetown Drive-In has brought movie fans together in Indiana for more than just screenings. When they showed the Dukes of Hazard, the lot was filled with vintage hot rods, for Pirates of the Caribbean everyone dressed up like pirates, Harry Potter was preceded by a magic show, and they go all out for Halloween each year. As if their inexpensive double features, colorful concession stand (with pretzels, candies, and nachos galore), and guest stars (Henry Winkler is scheduled to appear this summer) weren’t enough.