Open air, retro vibes, watching the big screen under the stars: What’s not to love about a drive-in movie theater? But have you ever been to one? Luckily, there are a handful of theaters you can get to within a couple hours of New York City. The only problem: you need a car. You figure that out, we’ll tell you where to go so you can cross this American pastime off your summer bucket list once and for all. Bonus: All of the five theaters listed below are dog-friendly.
This drive-in theater west of the Hudson River is about an hour and a half drive north of the city, but it’s pretty epic, with three screens each showing double features every night of the week. $11 tickets for adults, $8/kids get you access to both flicks. There's a full snack bar, with standard movie fare, plus heftier options, like hamburgers and fries. If you’re looking to stay the night, you’ll find nearby hotels listed on their site and the Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery is only a 15-minute drive away.
Head farther north to Poughkeepsie for this family-owned affair, in business since 1944. It’s just a big screen — six stories high! — set up in a country field, but grab some popcorn from the concessions and you’ve got everything you need. $10 tickets for adults, $7 for kids. They’re open every night of the week and on Monday nights, everybody pays $7. If you’re looking for more attractions in the area, the nearby Walkway over the Hudson makes for a scenic daytime activity.
This retro theater from the same owners of the Overlook first opened in 1950. It’s just a 20-minute drive north of the Overlook, in case you want to, err, drive-in movie hop. (Hey, sort of sounds like something a bunch of 1950s teenagers would do). If you’re staying in the area, the Vanderbilt Mansion, the Culinary Institute of America, and the home of FDR are all a short drive away. $10 adults, $7 kids.
For a more newfangled experience, visit this drive-in located in Armenia, NY, just across the state-line from Connecticut. Opened in 2012 by four brothers who “set out to reengineer the traditional outdoor cinema model,” from the art deco painting on the projection booth wall to the custom-made, kitschy decor, this is no old-timey affair. If you arrive via electric vehicle, you can charge it while you’re parked. Order food on the app — from the all locally-sourced menu, which includes “paw treats” for your dog — to have it delivered directly to your car. There’s a webcam, too, in case you want to be on a screen while you watch a screen. Oh, and a major difference: there’s booze here, via a bespoke cocktail menu. Movie-wise, you’ll find big releases, the occasional indie, and on #ThrowbackThursdays, a triple bill, including one classic. $10/adults, $5/kids.
Located west of the Hudson, in Middletown, New York, this two-screen venue can accommodate up to 800 cars, and hosts a double feature every night of the week during the summer. You can also order concessions through your phone. Highland Lakes State Park is nearby, if you want to hike or swim during the day; and if you’re looking to spend the night, Korn’s Campground, located along the Shawangunk Kill river, is less than a ten minute drive away. Adults pay $9, kids $6.