10 Drive-Ins Worth a Detour
Author: Don and Susan Sanders
Source: New York Times, 2002
The drive-in movie has been part of the American summer since 1933, when Richard Hollingshead built the first drive-in theater in Camden, N.J. A canny invention that recognized that while Americans love to get into the car and go somewhere, they resist actually experiencing the outside world, the drive-in caught on quickly. By the start of World War II, there were 100 scattered across the country; the post-war period's entertainment-hungry young families further fueled their growth, and by around 1960, there were 5,000 drive-ins. Today only some 500 survive, but a small resurgence seems under way: more than 40 have reopened or have been built from scratch in the last five years. If the summer awakens the urge to watch a first-run movie without leaving the car -- or spending a lot -- here are 10 of the best drive-in operations we know, listed in alphabetical order by location.
- Berlinsville, Pa. -- Becky's Drive-in has been open for more than 50 years and is still run by the family that built the theater. Open every night during the summer. Phone: (610) 767-2249.
- Carlsbad, N.M.-- Fiesta Drive-in features three screens, radio sound and real butter on the popcorn. Open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Phone: (505) 885-4126.
- Carthage, Mo. -- 66 Drive-in has been completely restored and feels brand new, unlike the historic old highway where it's located. Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday in summer. Phone: (417) 359-5959.
- Coldwater, Mich. -- Capri Drive-in was opened in 1964 by the family that operates it today. You pick up the sound on your FM radio, and the food is great. Phone: (517) 278-5628.
- Fayetteville, Ark. -- 112 Drive-in still has the original speakers in the last rows, along with great food at the pristine concession stand. In summer, open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Phone: (501) 442-4542.
- Lakeland, Fla. -- Silver Moon Drive-in is the only drive-in we know that serves beer. There's homemade pizza as well, which you can eat by the light of the original neon marquee. Open every day all year long. Phone: (863) 682-0849.
- Lockport, N.Y. -- Transit Drive-in offers car heaters for those chilly nights and a playground with a miniature golf course. Open every day in summer. Phone: (716) 625-8535.
- Monte Vista, Colo. -- Star Drive-in/Movie Manor Motel combines the usual drive-in amenities -- playground, snack bar -- with the opportunity to watch the movie not from your car but from your room. Open every day in summer. Phone: (719) 852-5921.
- Newberg, Ore. -- 99W Drive-in has a vintage snack bar that sells great quarter-pound hot dogs. Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the summer. Phone: (503) 538-2738.
- Valparaiso, Ind. -- 49er Drive-in offers a brand-new, air-conditioned concession stand where the Orville Redenbacher popcorn has pride of place, Valparaiso being the home of Orville Redenbacher. Phone: (219) 462-6122.
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