Nationwide Vehicle Contracts lists the top ten drive-in movie theaters in the U.S.
A drive-in movie theater does exactly what it says on the tin - it brings the big screen outdoors so that you can drive to and watch a movie from the comfort of your own car.
Drive-in movie theaters often work by tuning your car radio to a set frequency and adjusting the sound to your perfect level, which is a luxury you don’t get from going to a standard movie theater.
Not to mention, the privacy you get and the seats in your car are likely to be more comfortable and convenient than typical movie theaters, for example reclining your seat or to just adjust your seat for more legroom. Furthermore, at some drive-ins you can also sit outside, so on a nice summer's day you don’t have to be sweltering inside your car.
The world’s first drive-in movie theater opened in Camden, New Jersey in 1933, meaning drive-in movies have been around for over 90 years now and are only growing in popularity.
On TikTok #driveinmovie has a huge 115.3 million views and Google monthly searches in America for ‘drive-in movies open near me’ has increased by 129%, with Americans on the lookout for the best drive-in movie theaters to visit.
That's why we at Nationwide Vehicle Contracts have looked into a variety of data points to determine the best drive-in theaters in the U.S.
We considered a range of factors including whether you can bring your own food and snacks, although buying food at drive-in movie theaters is important for business, we looked into whether you could bring your own snacks as a factor for cost-effectiveness for the consumer.
We also analysed Google reviews, whether the drive-in was dog-friendly and ticket prices, to discover the best drive-in theater to visit this summer, as these are key elements people consider when going to a drive-in theater.
|Rank||Name of Cinema
||City||State||Adult price||Child Price||Price for family of 4||Google Reviews /5||Bring your own food?||Buy food?||Dog friendly?||Index Score /100|
|1||Solano 2 Drive-in Theater||Concord||California||$8.5||$2||$21||4.40||Y||Y||Y||95.82|
|2=||Joy Lan Drive-in||Dade City||Florida||$7||$3||$20||4.50||Y||Y||Y||95.67|
|2=||Star Drive-in||Monte Vista||Colorado||$9||$4||$22||4.40||Y||Y||Y||95.67|
|2=||Portville Drive-in Theater
||South Drive-in||Dodge City||Kansas||$15||4.60||Y||Y||Y||94.40|
|8=||Stone Drive-in||Mountain View||Arkansas||$5||$3||$16||4.60||Y||Y||Y||94.05|
|9=||Misquamicut Drive-in||Westerly||Rhode Island||$25||4.40||Y||Y||Y||93.18|
|10=||Silver Moon Drive-in||Lakeland||Florida||$8||$3||$22||4.60||Y||Y||Y||93.12|
The Solano 2 Drive-in Theater came out on top in our study, based in Concord, California with a total index score of 95.82 out of 100 - so it’s definitely worth a visit! The Solano 2 Drive-In was first opened in June 1968 and reopened by West Wind Drive-In in May of 2007 with a double feature of “Spiderman 3” and “Ghost Rider” for movie fans. This summer the Solano 2 Drive-in theater is showing movies such as “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”, “Elemental”, “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” and more. The Solano 2 Drive-in Theater also offers a concession stand for snacks during your movie and a playground for kids, so it’s no wonder this drive-in took the top spot.
Another reason this drive-in theater came out on top was due to the high Google reviews at an average of 4.4. Visitors have the option to either purchase food there or bring their own, so if you're on a budget, you can bring your own picnic to save on costs. The cost of the drive-in also isn’t that steep, with adult tickets at $8.50 and children at $2 meaning a family of four costs only $21, so it definitely won’t break the bank to visit our highest ranked drive-in in America.
Joy Lan Drive-in Theater, in Dade City, Florida has been around for more than 74 years and is one of the last drive-in cinemas in Florida, ranking second in our study. Joy Lan Drive-in Theater plays first-run movies with double features five nights a week, where you can listen through your car radio and gates open 30 min before the movie starts show time so you can get there early and pick out your favourite spot!. The snack bar at this drive-in also offers a wide selection, including corn dogs, popcorn, soft drinks, and more which can fulfil any cravings you have.
Adult tickets at this drive-in are only $7 or if you want to take the whole family, a family of four costs only $20. Another advantage of Joy Ian Drive-in is that it’s dog-friendly, which isn't something often available at indoor movie theaters, so you don’t need to find a dog sitter or leave your pup at home.
Scoring an impressive 95.67 out of 100, the Star Drive-in theater, in Monte Vista, Colorado ranked joint second as the best drive-in movie theater in the U.S. This comes as no surprise with a 4.4 Google review rating as this drive-in allows you to bring your own food or choose from the selection of snacks provided. One Google review in particular stated “Great family time. It's nice to be able to talk with each other during the movie without disturbing other people. You can also bring in your own snacks and drinks if you want to”. So If you're wanting the perfect family movie night, the ticket will only set you back $22 for a family of four and you can bring your pooch along too!
The Star Drive-in is a family-run outdoor movie theater that has been open for 74 years and at the moment it's featuring movies such as “The Flash” and “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.” Later in the summer, Star Drive-in Theater is also set to feature some of 2023’s biggest blockbuster movies, including the live-action remake “The Little Mermaid” and “Barbie” - so it’s definitely worth a visit.
Also ranking in second place was Portville Drive-in Theater based in New York with an overall score of 95.67 out of 100. This drive-in offers family-oriented films and the newest film releases. With two screens and a great snack bar, this drive-in does not disappoint, not to mention the huge parking area, where you can pick any spot that suits you without having to worry about obstructed views as any parking space offers clear views. Portville Drive-in theater is currently showing movies such as “The Little Mermaid”, “The Flash” and Pixar’s “Elemental”.
With movies for the whole family to enjoy at this drive-in, the price for a family of four will set you back just $22, with adult tickets at $8 and children at $3, so it won’t cost too much to enjoy a movie night. If you're wanting to save even further you can also bring your own snacks from home to enjoy from the comfort of your car. With an overall Google review rating of 4.4, it’s clear this drive-in is a must to enjoy your next movie!
Completing the top five in our study was the Wes-Mer Drive-in Theater, in Mercedes Texas, scoring 94.62 out of 100. The Wes-Mer Drive-In is a single-screen drive-in with a capacity for 400 cars and has been around since the early 1950s. Currently this drive-in is showing “The Flash” and “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts”, with special discounts on Tuesday nights for $5 per vehicle, whereas on other days it will cost you $10 per car.
Wes-Mer Drive-in is also dog-friendly so you can bring your pooch along to movie night while you enjoy the snacks on offer at the drive-in or your homemade goodies, the choice is up to you. The average Google rating for this drive-in is a strong 4.6 proving its popularity with customers, so there's no surprise it’s ranked in the top five of our study. It’s also worth noting that showings are posted one week in advance, so you can plan which night in the week to visit, based on your favourite movie.
South Drive-in Theater, in Dodge City, Kansas was built in 1947 and is a single screen drive-in with capacity for 300 cars. To listen to your movie, you just need to tune your car radio or bring a portable radio and all headlights must be turned off before entering the parking area. Ranking sixth with a total index score of 94.40 out of 100, this drive-in offers a concession stand for snacks during your movie or you can bring your own snacks, so you don’t have to try and sneak food in your bag!
The South Drive-in has positive Google reviews with an average rating of 4.6, which was among the highest in our study. The cost to go to South Drive-In is also the cheapest out of all drive-ins analysed, with a family of four costing just $15, so it definitely worth a visit if you're in Kansas this summer.
Ranking in seventh place in our study was the Showboat Drive-in Theater in Hockley, Texas with an index score of 94.18. This drive-in is currently showing movies like “Indiana Jones 5 and Boogeyman”, “The Flash” and “Spider-man Across the Spider-verse”, “Elemental” and “The Little Mermaid”. It’s also worth noting that Showboat Drive-In is cash only so make sure to stop at the ATM beforehand so you can pick up any extras you want, like popcorn, candy or soda from the concession stand!
With movies for the whole family to enjoy at this drive-in cinema, admission for a family of four will only set you back $22, with adult tickets at $8 and children at $6, so it won’t break the bank to enjoy a well-deserved movie night. If you're wanting to save on costs you can also bring your own snacks from home to enjoy and you can bring your pup along too as the Showboat Drive-in is dog-friendly!
The Stone Drive-in theater ranked in eighth place in our study, based in Mountain View, Arkansas with a total index score of 94.05 out of 100. Stone Drive-in plays movies in rain or sunshine and accepts both cash and cards which is a great perk as the majority of drive-ins operate cash only! This drive-in uses FM radio sounds for the movies so cars with a great infotainment system will have a peak drive-in experience. This summer the Stone drive-in is showing movies such as “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” and “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” and more.
Another reason this outdoor movie theater ranked in the top ten was due to the strong Google reviews with an average of 4.6, with one customer saying “Great service, great prices, and amazing staff. I was sitting outside and they offered me an outdoor radio instead of using my car radio with the windows rolled down. Love this place and will come here many times in the future”. Visitors also have the option to buy popcorn and drinks there or you can bring some delicious goodies from home to save on costs. The cost of the Stone drive-in is one of the cheapest in the top ten, with an adult ticket costing only $5, children just $3, and a family of four costing $16, which is great if you're on a budget!
With stunning scenery of the beach and scoring an impressive 93.18 out of 100, the Misquamicut Drive-In Theater in Westerly, Rhode Island ranked as the ninth best drive-in cinema in the U.S. Misquamicut drive-in allows you to bring your own food, choose from the selection of snacks there or you can even grab some fish and chips from around the corner at ‘Two Little Fish’ to enjoy during the movie! A family movie night at this drive-in will only cost $25 for a family of four and you can bring your dogs along too - what could be better for a movie trip? This drive-in also offers a vast selection of movies this summer, including “Greece”, “Mamma Mia”, “Jaws” and more blockbuster movies for you to enjoy by the coast.
When you arrive at Misquamicut Drive-In Theater, you just need to tune your radio in your car to 96.3 FM and to make your experience even better in summer you can roll your windows down and it becomes surround sound. To add an even better experience to your movie night, if you get there early and park in the front few rows, this drive-in has DJ speakers at the front near the screen!
Rounding off the top ten in our study was the Silver Moon Drive-in with an overall score of 93.12 out of 100. The Silver Moon Drive-in Theater has been in Lakeland, Florida for more than 75 years and usually has two screens showing first-run movies with double features. These are shown seven nights a week that you can enjoy through your FM car radio, or you can rent a radio for $2, but please be wary that there are limited rental radios available and you will need to bring your drivers licence. Silver Moon Drive-in is currently showing “Indiana Jones” and the “Dial of Destiny”, “The Flash”, “Elemental”, and more, so you have plenty of choices!
At Silver Moon Drive-in, adult tickets will only cost $8, children at $3 and little ones under four go free! It's recommended at this drive-in that on Friday or Saturday to arrive an hour before your movies starts or 30 minutes before during the week. If you're wanting to save on costs you can bring your own snacks or there are plenty of options to choose from at the snack bar, including, Pizza, Hotdogs and Popcorn, so why not try a movie night at the Silver Moon Drive-in?
Skowhegan Drive-in also ranked tenth in our study, based in Skowhegan, Maine with a total index score of 93.12 out of 100. This drive-in movie theater offers single showings and double features seasonally and at the moment the feature movies at Skowhegan drive-in are “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” and Stephen King's “Boogeyman”. There is also a snack bar with a range of choices for any cravings during your movie - so it’s no wonder this drive-in ranked in the top ten!
With mostly positive Google reviews averaging 4.6, including one customer saying “This was such a blast! The set up is perfect, every spot has a great view. My husband took advantage of the concessions and was pleased with price, quality and speed” - Skowhegan Drive-in is a great pick for your next movie night. You have the option to buy your food there or bring your own, so if you're wanting a cheap movie night, you can bring snacks from home to save on costs. The cost of the drive-in also isn’t steep, with adult tickets at $7, children at $5, and a family of four costing just $20, not to mention Skowhegan drive-in is dog-friendly.
Drive-in theaters are a must this summer and a staple of American movie culture, with the latest blockbuster movies featured at the majority of the top drive-ins. A movie night is perfect for family, friends, couples and even your pooch. To get ready ahead of the summer you can lease a car from Nationwide Vehicle Contracts and explore the best family car leasing guides so you can choose the best option to fit you and your family regardless of what activities you have planned this summer.
To determine the best drive-in cinemas in America we analyzed all open and operating drive-in theaters located in the United States from driveinmovie.com and then used the below factors giving them a weighted ranking for an index score out of 100:
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