Missing movie theaters in COVID-19 quarantine? Fill up the car and head to these drive-ins

The country is starting to open up after months of lockdown, yet social distancing and sanitary precautions are still important as ever. And although theater chains like AMC are gearing up to return in August, taking in a drive-in movie may sound appealing, especially for families.

Drive-in movie theaters have the advantages of in-person viewing while staying in the comfort, privacy and safety of your own vehicle. Social distancing is built-in, as cars are often parked six or more feet away from each other, and proper COVID-19 protocols make it easier to have fun yet stay safe.

We’ve put together a list of old and newly converted drive-ins across the country for you to check out. Scroll through to see if there’s one near you:

A user’s guide to drive-in movie theaters:  Staying safe and having fun

East Coast

Fingerlakes Drive-In, Auburn, New York

Fingerlakes Drive-In in Auburn, New York, promotes hand hygiene right at the entrance.
Fingerlakes Drive-In in Auburn, New York, promotes hand hygiene right at the entrance.

Price: $8 for ages 12 and up; $4 for kids ages 5 to 11; free for kids 4 and under

Website: www.fingerlakesdrivein.com

About this drive-in: Founded in 1947, Fingerlakes is New York’s oldest operating drive-in theater. It evokes nostalgia with its classic movie selection, such as “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” 

What you need to know before you go: According to the theater’s Facebook page, guests are advised to use the bathroom at home before arriving. Face masks must be worn outside of the car, and tickets must be purchased online (customers can find links on the theater’s Facebook page) or with cash. The concession stand will also be open, but only cash will be accepted. 

Bel Aire Diner, Queens, New York 

Price: $32 per car 

Website: www.belairediner.nyc/store/events

About this drive-in:  This retro-style diner, which has been open since 1965, recently introduced its drive-in theater.

What you need to know before you go: Tickets can be purchased online and your ID must match the name used to book them. There is a minimum of two people per car and no outside food is allowed. Instead, you can order from Bel Aire Diner’s special menu during your viewing, and your food will be delivered directly to your car. You must remain in your vehicle unless you are using the restroom and the diner asks that you wear a mask when you leave your car.

Edmond Town Hall’s Ingersoll Auto Pop-Up Drive-In Theater, Newtown, Connecticut

Edmond Town Hall's pop-up drive-in movie theater will deliver food directly to your car in order to ensure you stay safe in your vehicle.
Edmond Town Hall’s pop-up drive-in movie theater will deliver food directly to your car in order to ensure you stay safe in your vehicle.

Price: $10 per vehicle 

Website: www.edmondtownhall.org/ingersoll-auto-pop-up-drive-in-theater

About this drive-in: EThe pop-up drive-in theater runs a variety of family-friendly films, such as “Toy Story” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

What you need to know before you go: You must buy your tickets online and bring the printout with you to claim one of the 42 available spots. If you leave your car for any reason, you must wear a mask. Concession offerings are minimal (popcorn, bottled soft drinks and M&Ms) and must be ordered online in advance. Food will be delivered to cars.

Family Drive-In Theatre, Stephens City, Virginia 

Price: $7 for customers 12 and up; $4 for kids under 11

Website: www.thefamilydriveintheatre.com

About this drive-in: If you’re in the Washington, D.C., metro area, the Family Drive-In Theater in Virginia is the place to go for your drive-in outing. The business has been screening a mix of American classics, such as “Grease” and “Footloose,” along with recent award-winning films, such as “1917.” 

What you need to know before you go: Drive-up admission isn’t available; all tickets must be purchased online in advance. Customers can pay a $10-per-vehicle food permit to bring in their own refreshments (alcohol is prohibited) or order food from the car via the Fan Food app. Restrooms are limited to two people at a time and are cleaned every 15 minutes.

Bengies Drive-In Theatre, Middle River, Maryland

Price: $10 for ages 11 and up; $5 for kids 5-10; ages 4 and under are free

Website: www.bengies.com

About this drive-in: Bengies, home to what’s billed as the biggest screen in the USA, is open for its 64th season.

What you need to know before you go: Tickets are sold online to promote social distancing and there must be at least two people in the car. You’ll need to pay $15 per vehicle to bring in outside food. Masks must be worn until the vehicle is parked and anytime you are away from your car. Restrooms are operating at half-capacity and hand-sanitizing stations are positioned around the snack bar and restroom entrances. 

Drive-In at Lovingston Cafe, Lovingston, Virginia

Price: Free

Website: www.lovingstoncafe.com

About this drive-in: Lovingston Cafe does more than sell tasty appetizers and burgers. The cafe has transformed its parking lot into a drive-in theater on Friday nights during the coronavirus pandemic, screening free black-and-white films for free. Make sure to come early, as the parking spots fill up quickly. 

What you need to know before you go: Families are required to stay in their vehicles, unless using the restroom, and spaces will be limited in order to maintain social distancing.  

Carflix Cinema at Dezerland Park, North Miami, Florida

All employees at Dezerland Park's drive-in movie theater will be wearing masks and enforcing the six-foot rule in public restroom lines.
All employees at Dezerland Park’s drive-in movie theater will be wearing masks and enforcing the six-foot rule in public restroom lines.

Price: $30 per car (without tax) 

Website: www.dezerlandpark.com/miami/attraction-drivein-miami.php

About this drive-in: The Florida action park is closed during the pandemic, but has introduced a drive-in theater in its parking lot. The converted drive-in has been playing newer films such as “The Lion King” on its state-of-the-art LED screen.

What you need to know before you go: Tickets will be scanned directly from the phone in order to avoid direct contact, and all employees are required to wear masks and gloves. Rope barriers are available to enforce the six-foot rule for lines at restrooms, and bathroom attendants will be cleaning and disinfecting portable single-stall restrooms. All attendees must stay in their cars aside from bathroom trips, during which time masks must be worn. 


Route 66 Drive-In, Carthage, Missouri

Price: $8 for ages 13 and up; $4 for kids 6-12; ages 5 and under are free

Website: www.66drivein.com/

About this drive-in: With its retro look, Route 66 Drive-In is a historic site located on the U.S. Route 66 in Jasper County, Missouri.

What you need to know before you go: You must exit your vehicle and pay cash at the gate but can also use debit cards at the concession stands. You may watch the movie from in front of your car. Social distancing rules are in effect and customers must remain six feet apart at common areas such as the concession stand. Restrooms are cleaned every 30 minutes.

Ballpark Commons’ Milky Way Drive-In, Franklin, Wisconsin

Price: $35 per vehicle

Website: www.milkywaydrivein.com/

About this drive-in: This baseball stadium opened a drive-in theater in May, showing films every night on its LED screen.

What you need to know before you go: Tickets must be purchased online and there is a maximum capacity of 200 vehicles. You must watch the movie from within your vehicle. The theater asks that you wear a mask if watching the movie from an open hatch and when leaving your vehicle.The concession stand will be open but the theater encourages patrons to order food via the Toast TakeOut app and have it delivered to their cars. Restrooms are open and hand sanitizer is provided.

West Coast

Mission Tiki Drive-In Theatre, Montclair, California

Price: $10 for guests 10 and up; $1 for kids 5 to 9

Website: www.missiontiki.com

About this drive-in: Rap fans may recognize Mission Tiki as the setting of the music video for Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa’s “Young, Wild and Free.”

What you need to know before you go: COVID-19 protocols require guests to undergo a temperature screening, wear a mask and remain six feet apart from others whenever leaving their vehicle. Movies must be watched from within the car, though opening the cargo hatch is allowed. Outside food is permitted (except alcohol) and restrooms are cleaned hourly.

Alameda County Fairgrounds, Pleasanton, California

Price: $25 per vehicle if purchased in advance, $30 for day-of

Website: www.alamedacountyfair.com/movie-drive-ins

About this drive-in: The Alameda County Fairgrounds has opened its drive-in movie theater, along with grab-and-go food trucks and drive-in concerts. Come with your family to watch classics like “The Goonies” and “Grease.” 

What you need to know before you go: All you have to do is pay for is parking, and in return, you’ll receive a free movie ticket along with one free admission ticket to the 2021 Alameda County Fair.  Cars are subject to search, no tailgating is allowed and if you have any car windows or doors open, you must wear a mask. No concessions are offered and since there are no trash cans available, bring a trash bag since you have to take it home with you.

The Sunshine Mill’s Drive-Up Movies at the Mill, Dalles, Oregon

Sunshine Mill is following social distancing protocol for its first-ever drive-in movie theater this summer.
Sunshine Mill is following social distancing protocol for its first-ever drive-in movie theater this summer.

Price: $15 per vehicle

Website: www.sunshinemill.com/events

About this drive-in: The Artisan Plaza and Winery will have drive-in movies for the summer with films every Friday and Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

What you need to know before you go: Each parking space will have a barrel for staff to drop off food and wine orders. Guests are advised to follow social distancing guidelines and must not leave their vehicles. 

Tribeca Drive-In: Robert De Niro and IMAX unite for new summer drive-in film series

Coming soon

Walmart, nationwide

Walmart is teaming up with Tribeca Enterprises to convert 160 store parking lots into contact-free drive-in movie theate from Aug. 14 until Oct. 21. Programming includes “Black Panther,” “The Lego Batman Movie,” “E.T.,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and more, along with virtual or real-life appearances by Drew Barrymore, LeBron James and Jennifer Garner. Tickets are free, but must be purchased in advance online.

Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida

The Miami Dolphins’ stadium has turned the field into a drive-in movie theater with room for more than 200 cars to take in classic films. Two theaters are available to moviegoers starting June 25: a socially distanced open-air theater and a drive-up theater. Hard Rock Stadium will show a diverse array of movies, such as “Knives Out” and “Men in Black.” Masks must be worn in common areas, and all spots are assigned beforehand. Tickets for the outdoor theater start at $17 per person, while those for the drive-up theater start at $39 per vehicle. 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Drive-in movie theaters: A guide to locations, including Walmart

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