This is National Drive-in Movie Day, celebrating that historic moment 85 years ago when Richard M. Hollingshead of Camden, New Jersey, opened the very first drive-in theater. By the late 1950s, drive-ins were in their heyday and there were more than 4,000 outdoor movie screens across the country.
These days, though, only about 330 drive-in theaters remain in the United States. We thought we’d take a few minutes today to pay tribute to these nostalgic venues that bring back fond memories of summertime.
So get some snacks, tune in your FM radio, grab a flashlight so you can find your way to the restroom, and let’s take a spin down Memory Lane … ending in front of the beyond-big screens that provide the very best movie seats in the universe, right there under the stars.
If you can’t make it to one of “our” drive-ins, we encourage you to check out www.DriveinMovie.com, a great resource that offers a state-by-state rundown of where you can find your local theater. Most of these drive-ins are mom-and-pop operations, so we encourage you to get out there and support small business … and have a fantastic time bonding with family and friends in the process.
2367 N. Lee Highway, Lexington, Virginia 24450
Movie Line: 540-463-2621
The nation’s only non-profit, community-owned drive-in theater has been bringing movies to the citizens of and visitors to Rockbridge County in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley for more than 65 years. Much of the staff is unpaid volunteers – called “Hull’s Angels” – who donate their time to ensure that visitors can enjoy an iconic, family-friendly entertainment venue. While others in the industry have switched to FM radio for sound, Hull’s still offers those old-fashioned speakers on poles. (But you can tune in on 88.1 FM if you prefer to go more “modern.”) The theater runs double features on its single screen every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night from mid-March through October, with tickets priced at $7 for adults and $3 for kids. There’s a “Throwback Thursday” series in July at a cost of just $10 per car and a full range of special events. For another bit of nostalgia, Hull’s accepts cash, credit cards (with a 50-cent upcharge per transaction) and – get this – personal checks! Dogs are free … because yes, Hull’s is one of the drive-in theaters that still permits pets!
5890 Valley Pike, Stephens City, Virginia 22655
Movie Line: 540-665-6982
Built by the Dalke family and opened on June 14, 1956, the Family Drive-In annually hosts an anniversary event in early June to acknowledge its own birthday and the anniversary of drive-in theaters. The theater is open from March through early December and shows movies on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights in the spring and fall and seven nights a week in June, July and August. The Family Drive-In, which operates two screens, bears the distinction of being the only remaining drive-in theater in the Washington metropolitan area. It’s easily accessible from Interstates 81 and 66, but it’s light years away in terms of the experience, balancing the nostalgia of original speaker poles and music from the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s with digital projection and the latest concessions. Like Hull’s, this drive-in still welcomes pets.