Seeing a movie out in the open is an old-fashioned treat that’s hard to beat. Drive-ins invoke memories of warm summer evenings and snacks under the stars. Richard Hollingshead Jr patented the format for drive-ins in 1933 but it wasn’t until the 1950's they took off, fueled by the craze for owning cars and a spreading outdoor, family oriented culture, particularly in rural areas.
At its peak in the early 1960’s there were some 4,000 drive-in movie theaters across the US. Most were only open during the summer but in the south they were open all year round. Above all they were social occasions where friends could meet up and car hop. Parents loved it because they could load the whole family in the car and feed and entertain them at the same time. Teenagers loved it because it was the ideal dating experience.
Virginia still has seven of these iconic theaters playing some of the latest movies around and offering the archetypal retro experience!
Starlite Drive In, 275 Starlite Drive, Christiansburg, VA 24073
Open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night at 7pm from April to September, all weathers (if it rains turn on your wipers!). Speakers available or you can tune in via your car radio. Snack bar available, pet friendly, cash only.
Park Place Drive In, 205 Park Blvd, Marion, VA 24354
Open from April to October, additional facilities include an ice cream bar featuring Hershey’s 32 best flavors, a miniature golf course, an arcade and a batting cage.
Goochland Drive In, 4344 Old Fredericksburg Road, Hadensville, VA 23067
Open March to November on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Snack bar selling hot dogs, burgers, popcorn, chicken etc including gluten-free options – no outside food allowed. The facilities are also available for hire for classic cars shows and special events.
Hull’s Drive In, 2367 N Lee Hwy/US 11, Lexington, VA 24450
The country’s first non-profit, community owned drive-in movie theatre, this is a family and pet-friendly authentic 1950’s movie-going experience. Open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night at 7pm from April to September. Serving hot dogs, hamburgers and popcorn.
The Family Drive In, 5890 Valley Pike (US Rt. 11 South), Stephens City, VA 22655
Two screens open March to October and offering double features for one admission ticket. Facilities include a children’s’ playground and food concessions. Speakers available or you can tune in via your car radio.
Central Drive In, 5113 Kent Junction Road, Norton, VA 24273
Situated within the borders of the Jefferson National Forest and open April to October. Show times are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with double features and the latest releases. Facilities include a snack bar serving corn nuggets, fried apple sticks and popcorn.