Photo courtesy of The Bel Aire Diner
The pandemic brought a renewed interest in outdoor, drive-in movie theaters. And though indoor movie theaters are now open again, it seems like this fun, vintage activity is here to stay. From spots right here in Greenpoint and Astoria to those nearby in North Jersey to some cool retro locales a couple hours’ away, we’ve rounded up 18 spots to drive-in, snack on popcorn, and enjoy a good old-fashioned movie night this spring and summer.
NEW YORK CITY
Skyline Drive-In in Greenpoint, Brooklyn
This drive-in bills itself as the only one “with a Manhattan skyline view,” and that certainly makes it intriguing. Located at 1 Oak Street on the East River waterfront, this venue is unique in that it also offers outdoor seating for those without a car. Showtimes range from 8:30pm to midnight, and upcoming titles include everything from 500 Days of Summer to Bohemian Rhapsody to Grease. There’s a concession stand and tickets are $55 for a car (up to seven passengers), $35 for a motorcycle, and $22 for a single outdoor seat.
Bel Aire Diner in Astoria, Queens
This old-school diner has been serving up classics like jumbo stacks of pancakes and chicken sandwiches since 1965, but in the wake of the pandemic, they set up a 25-foot outdoor projection screen in their parking lot, which can accommodate 40 cars. The best part, though, is guests can order food from the diner to enjoy in their cars. Tickets are $32 per car. In addition to movie screenings, Bel Aire is also hosting other outdoor, socially distant events like trivia nights, comedy nights, and a drag brunch.
Queens Drive-In at The New York Hall of Science
A collaboration among Rooftop Films, the New York Hall of Science, and the Museum of the Moving Image, this drive-in in Flushing Meadows Corona Park aims to bring “film, culture, togetherness and joy back to the people of Queens.” A portion of each ticket sale ($35 per car) will be donated to Elmcor, a local nonprofit organization that provides support for the communities in Queens hardest hit by the pandemic. There are concessions from two favorite vendors from the famed Queens Night Market–CBao (Asian-style buns) and Dilena’s Dolcini (Snacks, cookies, popcorn, drinks). Titles range from New York Film Festival films to classics like Godzilla and King Kong and Mamma Mia!. Doors open and pre-shows begin at 7pm; films start at 8pm. Select titles are free with RSVP.
Juicy Lucy BBQ: A Flick & A Feast
Across from the South Beach boardwalk, this fun BBQ spot (known for its brisket) launched the new “A Flick & A Feast” series, where drive-in guests can get food delivered to their vehicle. Tickets are $45 per car and include a $20 credit toward food. Upcoming screenings run the gamut from Jaws to A Bronx Tale to Ghostbusters and Hamilton. Showtimes are 5pm or 8:15pm.
Drive-In Movie Night Series in Jersey City
In partnership with developer Mack-Cali and JCFamilies, the Exchange Place Alliance began a drive-in movie night series last year at the parking lot at 107 Morgan Street, in the heart of downtown Jersey City. The next screening, of Frozen II, is set for May 14 at 8:15pm. There are 50 spots that can be reserved in advance for $20 per car. Gates open at 7:15pm and close at 8:00pm.
Newark Moonlight Cinema
Located in historic downtown Newark, on the former site of the Newark Bears Baseball Stadium, this drive-in movie theater hasn’t yet released its spring opening date, but last season, they played everything from cult classics to new releases, as well as highlighted African American filmmakers, actors, and actresses. The showtimes are 9pm Friday through Sunday, but gates open at 7pm, and you can order from the mobile concessions app before the movie begins. The site can hold 350 cars. Tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for children 4-12, and free for children under 4.
The Gateway Drive-In Theater
Set up as a fundraiser for the Performing Arts Center of Suffolk County, this drive-in experience costs $35 per car, and there are showtimes on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Upcoming titles include ET, Moana, and Black Panther. Movies start at 8pm and all tickets must be purchased in advance.
About an hour and 15 minutes from Manhattan, this drive-in first opened in 1950 and has expanded over the years so that it now has three different outdoor screens. They’re well known for offering double features every night. For example, this weekend, you can see Raya and the Last Dragon followed by Nomadland. Tickets are $12/person and $8 for kids ages 4-11. To make a whole day of it, Pennings Farms Cidery is just down the road.
Overlook Drive-In Theater in Poughkeepsie
This drive-in is actually not new; it’s been in operation since 1955. It’s about an hour and 40 minutes’ drive from NYC, but the family-owned business says its six-story screen is the largest in the Tri-State area, and they’re also known for their double features. Plus, tickets are just $10 for adults, $7 for kids 5-11, and free for kids under 5.
Hyde Park Drive-In Theater
The sister to Overlook, this drive-in has been around since 1950. Ticket prices are the same as Overlook, but it’s a little bit closer to a two-hour drive. Currently playing are Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat.
Four Brothers Drive-In
Located in Armenia, it’ll take you a little over two hours to drive to this outdoor theater, but there’s a ton to do here in addition to watching a movie. Opened in 2014, Four Brothers was designed as a super retro throwback to the 1960s, with car-hop service, lawn games, a hotel, and overnight camping. On the more modern side of things, there are electric car charging stations. There are two showings seven days a week and tickets are $11 for adults and $6 for children.
The Greenville Drive-In
It’s a two-and-a-half-hour drive to get here, but the Greenville Drive-In is located in a picturesque northern Catskills location. It originally opened in 1959 but underwent a revival in 2015. They now call themselves “cinema with a twist,” offering movies, music, cocktails, and more. Their 62nd season begins on May 8th with an opening night party featuring a one-night screening of the 1984 classic mockumentary This is Spinal Tap. Regular screening prices are: 1 ticket/$8, 2 tickets/$16, 3 tickets/$20, and 4+ tickets/$24 (children under 5 are free). If you want to stay over, try to get lucky and snag a reservation in the vintage 1972 Airstream Excella 500 or the nearby creekside glamping rental.
Jericho Drive-In and Twist Ice Cream Shoppe
Also in the northern Catskills, this throwback drive-in also has an old-school ice cream shop on the grounds. Tickets are $11 per person.
Hollywood Drive-In Theatre
It’ll take you almost three hours to get to “Hollywood,” but you’ll get plenty of nostalgic charm. The outdoor theater was built in 1952, and the son of the original owner has been running the show since 1968. It can now hold 400 cars, and there’s a full concession stand that includes the famous popcorn boxes that are randomly stuffed with free passes into the drive-in. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids ages 3-10.
Pleasant Valley Drive-in Movie Theater
Located about two hours and 20 minutes from NYC, in the outskirts of Litchfield County, this drive-in is full of nostalgic American appeal. There’s capacity for 250 cars and tickets are $10; kids ages 6-12 are $5 and those 5 and younger are free (do note it’s cash only). Friday nights are Carload Night, where any car pays just $20. There’s also a concession stand with all the basics. Upcoming showings are The Croods: A New Age and Mortal Kombat.
Shankweiler’s Drive-In Theater
This is only a two-hour drive, which may well be worth it to watch a flick at America’s oldest drive-in, which was opened in 1934. For now, they’re only open on weekends. Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for children 12 & under, and free for children under 2. If you want to make a day of it, Orefield, Pennsylvania is also near Dorney Park, the Lehigh Valley Zoo, and the cultural city of Allentown.
The Mahoning Drive-In
Also a two-hour drive from NYC, this is another retro theater that’s been in business since 1949. As they explain on their website, “In 2014 our team decided to transfer back to a Reel-to-Reel system and show nothing but retro classics on original 35mm format.” Upcoming titles include Footloose, Robocop ’87, and Dawn of the Dead. In July, you can attend Joe Bob’s 1st Annual Mutant Fest. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for kids.
Yet another two-hour drive, Becky’s Drive-In in the Lehigh Valley opened in 1946 as the Route 45 Drive-In. The children of the original owners still operate the establishment. And it’s still pretty old-school; tickets can only be purchased at the box office, movies start “approximately at dusk,” and the movie lineup is often not announced until a few days prior.
Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on September 9, 2020, and has been updated.
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