22 Drive-In Movie Theaters Still Standing In New York State
This gorgeous, springtime weather has got us itching to hop in the car to catch a drive-in movie.
Back in 2020, when indoor movie theaters across New York State closed their doors because of the pandemic, drive-ins became a hot spot for families looking to have some fun while social distancing. Now, they’re a popular place to enjoy the nice weather while getting a feel of nostalgia...
If you’re lucky enough to have a drive-in theater nearby, anyway.
When Sunset Drive-In in Middleport, New York closed last year, it was a sad reminder that drive-ins are few and far between in here in New York.
History Of Drive-In Theatres In New York State
The first drive-in movie theater in New York State was the Sunrise Drive-In on Long Island. When it opened in the summer of 1938 in Valley Stream, New York, cars lined up for miles to pay 25 cents a ticket to see their favorite Hollywood stars on its huge curved screen.
Not long after, the popularity of drive-ins exploded. At their peak in the 1960s, there were about 4,000 drive-in theaters in operation across the US - over 150 in New York State alone.
Today, in 2023, the Empire state has less than 25 drive-in movie theaters left to enjoy.
Why Drive-In Movies Are The Best
Drive-ins are still awesome, even if they’re hard to find in these days.
They don’t just play the new stuff.
You can see classics you haven’t seen since you were a kid, blockbusters that are a few months old (for a lot cheaper than regular theaters), and even enjoy some quirky theme nights featuring sci-fi or horror movies.
You get more bang for your buck at the drive-in.
Movies in an indoor theater average $12 to $15 bucks, whereas at the drive-in, you’ll pay a little less. But the big win for your wallet is that drive-ins often make it a double feature, so you’re getting two movies for the price of less than one.
Your car is a cozy place to watch a movie.
You could argue that modern-day movie theater recliners are the most comfortable way to watch a movie these days. But those fancy chairs don’t have some of the ameneties that your car does, like heated seats, and/or air-conditioning blasting right on your face.
You can enjoy the great outdoors while still being lazy.
Gone are the days when you have to bring a parka to the movies on a hot summer day. Forget the freezing air conditioner inside the movie theater and relax with a cool evening breeze instead.
You can save money by bringing your own food and drinks.
Okay, so we’re not sure how “ethical” this is, but drive-in movie theaters make it way too easy to sneak into your own food to save some cash. (The only exception is a bucket of buttery popcorn… it’s just better at the drive-in and worth having to vacuum your car out the next day.)
Whether you’re looking for a hint of the “good ol’ days” or a unique way to spend a warm-weather night - here are the 22 remaining drive-in theaters for your outdoor movie-viewing pleasure in New York State.