Keep reading to find out how to have the best family night at a drive-in movie theater near you!
Did you know there are over 300 drive-in movie theaters in the United States? Drive-inMovie.com says “There are currently only about 330 drive-in theaters that remain in operation in the United States compared to a peak of about 4,000 in the late 1950’s.”
It’s so crazy to think that kids today haven’t ever been to one of these classic symbols of Americana. With drive-ins in nearly every state, it’s easier than ever to find a drive-in movie theater near you and have an awesome night out!
Where do I find a drive-in movie theater near me?
Simply go to Drive-inMovie.com, click on “search drive-ins,” navigate to your respective state, and you will find a list of all the active drive-in movie theaters near you! Further down the page it gives you a list of the theaters that are permanently closed so if you are wondering if the drive-in you went to as a kid or in the past is still around, you can find out there.
Once you have found all the theaters near you, you can select which one is the most feasible for you to attend and find their website or Facebook page.
If you don’t have a local drive-in or it’s a long trek for you, consider stopping at a drive-in movie theater on your summer vacation. Or take a day trip to visit one that is too far for a regular movie night.
And in case you didn’t know, most drive-ins have a double feature so you will get 2 movies for the price of one! A family friendly movie is usually shown first and then a movie for the parents after.
Once you have found a drive-in to visit, here is a five-point checklist for having an awesome drive-in movie theater experience.
5 Tips for Enjoying a Family Night at a Drive-In Movie
Check the drive-in movie theater rules
This is my biggest and most important tip! While you are on the venue’s website or Facebook page make sure you check out ALL OF THE RULES! Drive-in movie theaters aren’t like regular movie theaters that pretty much have all the same standard set or rules. Drive-in movie rules vary by location.
Some have a strict no carry-in policy. Others don’t allow pets. While others only take cash. Checking out the drive-in’s rules and policies will make planning your trip to the drive-in so much easier.
It will let you know the hours and days of operation, how early you should arrive for the movie, parking rules, what types of vehicles can park where, as well as concession prices and carry-in policies.
Get Ready for an Evening Outside
After checking the theater’s rules, you want to make sure you are prepared for the movie. Check the weather conditions so you can dress appropriately for an evening outside. This means you may need to dress for warm weather while waiting for the movie to start, and cooler weather for when the movie starts.
Most theaters still play the film even if it raining so make sure to pack an umbrella. Even though you are watching a movie in your car, you still will need to venture out for food and bathroom breaks.
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Movie theaters have done a great job at making sure we are super comfy while watching movies. If your car isn’t very comfortable you may want to sit outside or set up a comfy nest in the back of your car.
Remember, most theaters play the sound through FM radio so you will want to bring along a portable radio if you are sitting outside. Some drive-ins have portable speakers but not all. And if you are planning on eating in the car, make sure your kids have something to eat on and cup holders.
Prepare your car
After all, you will be watching the movie in your car so make sure your car is in good working order. Check your radio and make sure all the speakers work. As well as how to turn your cars interior and exterior lights off.
For example, your car may lights that stay on for certain period of time after the vehicle is turned off. Or you may have interior lights that stay on if there is an open door or hatch. If your vehicle has some quirks you will want to know know how to turn all of these off once the movie starts.
Ideally you will want to watch the movie under the stars but if it is a humid night or the bugs are eating you alive, you may need to watch in the car in the air conditioning. So it helps to know how you can turn your car on without the headlights turning on.
Again, most movie theaters play the sound through FM radio so if you are listening in the car you will need to have the power on to the vehicle. It wouldn’t be the first time a car battery died at the drive-in, but if you have a weak battery you will probably want to run your car a few times during the movie.
Consider how your kids will behave at a drive-in movie theater
Most drive-in movies begin at dusk which presents two problems for kids. First, there will be a lot of waiting. You will be arriving at the movie early in case the movie sells out so you will want to bring something to keep your kids occupied like travel board games, coloring books, or a ball to play catch! Some drive-ins have playgrounds, but not all of them.
Second, kids will be up past their bedtime. Big kids love to stay up late, but it can be stressful for little ones. They will be up late, in different surroundings, and out of their usual routine. It depends on your child’s ability to stay up past their bed time and if they can fall asleep in their car seat without the car moving.
Between being up past their bedtime and several hours of waiting, you will want to plan your evening thoroughly. It can be a long night for them (and you) if they can’t get to sleep as the night goes on. Trust me, I know 😉
Attending a drive-in movie is one of America’s long lost past times. It takes a little more planning than attending a regular movie but the experience is well worth it. Grab your family, your gear, and spend a night under the stars.