For most people, evenings and weekend mean streaming something from Amazon, Hulu, or Netflix. These services make entertainment easy, and who doesn’t like ease? But there’s still something fun about heading out to the movies and seeing your favorite stories or characters on the big screen. Is there anything better than watching It or Us in a theater full of people jumping at the same scares? For those looking to combine the comfort and privacy of home viewing with the large screens and sense of community of theaters, we have drive-ins.
Or… had drive-ins. They’re almost all gone now.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, drive-in movie theaters were at peak popularity. There were roughly 4,000 of them across the country and cars filled with families and groups of teens flooded in as the sun went down to take in a film or two. But there were a few inherent problems in the drive-in set up. Firstly, they were limited by the weather. No one was showing up in snow and torrential rain to squint at the giant screens. Secondly, they could only show movies after dark meaning no daytime revenue. And, thirdly, they couldn’t compete with the appeal of home viewing offered by VCRs and movie rentals. Blockbuster killed the drive-in star.
Today, the number of operating drive-ins has dwindled to about 350 around the country. Still, there’s something iconic about the experience. It’s a lovely slice of Americana. And it creates a great set-up for a make-out session.
We gathered ten of the best drive-ins still operating today. Support them as much as you can, so we don’t lose them forever.
Coyote Drive-In — Fort Worth, Texas
This three-screen drive-in set on 20 acres prides itself on functioning as a movie venue, as well as a beer garden and hang out spot just like the other Coyote theaters in this chain. They were founded in 2011 by four men looking to find a more laidback employment situation. Given all the planning that went into this venue and what it takes to run a hospitality business, they may not have totally succeeded.
Compared to a lot of the theaters on this list, this Fort Worth location is huge — accommodating 1,300 cars each night. But you can forget all about finding space if you ride a horse. The theater provides hitches for tying up your transport while you grab a double feature and a chili cheese dog. Heck, given the large list of craft, domestic, and imported beers and red and white wines, you might as well grab a drink too.
The owners have a 10-year lease with the Tarrant Regional Water District, and the plan is for the land surrounding Coyote to be developed during that period. It is somewhat worrisome that the plan is also to remove the film screens, though they say it won’t be during the first lease. And, should the drive-in be profitable, it might never happen.
Admission: $8.00 for people 12 and older