Ah, good old drive-ins. As a millennial, I’ve never had the opportunity to experience one, but I’ve heard many a story from my parents about late nights in the bed of a friend’s truck, sipping soda and munching on popcorn as “Grease” or a similar movie lit up the night sky. Lucky for my generation (and our elders who want to revive their childhood), there are still plenty of operating drive-in theaters in Texas where we can go for a good time and a huge hit of nostalgia. Here are 10 of the best ones that have mastered the art of setting the clock back a few decades.
1. Coyote Drive-In (Fort Worth)
As well as a spacious parking lot where you can enjoy the movie from the comfort of your car, this drive-in also has a huge pavilion with picnic tables - a welcome addition considering the plethora of food trucks that park here to feed hungry moviegoers. You'll also have a perfect view of the beautiful Fort Worth skyline, so be sure to snap a few pictures of the sunset in between movies. Yep, you heard that right - you pay under $10 per ticket, but get to watch a double feature! Two for the price of one is a hard deal to beat, y'all.
2. Galaxy Drive-In Theatre (Ennis)
The huge red and white marquee at this retro drive-in will have you convinced you've entered a time warp to the 1950s. Even the concession stand, with old-fashioned drawings of popcorn bags and hot dogs, seems dated. Galaxy also offers double-features, so you get way more bang for your buck than you would at a traditional theatre. Plus, you get to sit in your car, eat snacks, and watch the sun go down behind the movie screen. A summer night well spent, if you ask me.
3. Stars & Stripes Drive-In Theatre (New Braunfels)
A towering, neon blue and red sign is the first thing you'll see upon approaching Stars & Stripes. And just in case that isn't enough of a nostalgia hit, they also have a diner with class walls, black leather booths, globe lights, and checkered floors where you can enjoy a meal before or after your movie. The original location is in Lubbock, so if you're closer to that neck of the woods, I'd highly recommend checking it out.
4. Brazos Drive-In (Granbury)
The Brazos Drive-In has seen generations of families spend many a Friday night since 1952 enjoying a movie on the lawn. Cars start lining up hours before showtime to get a good spot, and children run amuck on the grass while their parents mingle. Everyone grabs a bag of popcorn from the original, old-fashioned machine to enjoy during the movie (although I've heard it's so good, it doesn't last most people more than ten minutes!). The Brazos just brings people together in one of the most innocent ways possible, and I hope it remains a staple in the lives of Granbury residents forever.
5. Showboat Drive-In (Hockley)
Hockley is a small town, so it makes sense that this is one of the main attractions there. There's an unmistakable charm in the air when you gather with the locals, engage in some lighthearted small talk, and enjoy a favorite pastime together. This theater has old-school arcade games, too, so it's that much more of a blast from the past.
6. Town & Country Drive-In (Abilene)
This is the largest drive-in theatre in Texas! Spanning 23 acres, boasting a 100-foot wide screen, and accommodating 1500 cars, Town & Country definitely lives up to the saying, "everything's bigger in Texas." It has a rocky history after having to shut down in 1981 due to lack of demand, but it was resurrected 20 years later and plans on entertaining the Lone Star State for many more to come.
7. Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In (Austin)
Wow, what a long name for such a small place! But even though it only accepts 30-50 cars per night, it's been deemed one of the world's greatest drive-in theaters. The reason is that it provides an intimate setting so you can actually enjoy the movie without the inevitable distraction of being surrounded by hundreds of vehicles. They also serve vintage candy at the concession stand, so it's a win-win situation.
8. The Last Drive-In Picture Show (Gatesville)
In operation since 1950, this is one of the oldest drive-ins in the entire nation. It's also one of the most unique, not only because it allows pedestrians as well as vehicles, but also because it offers an indoor seating area with a glass wall, providing a view of the screen without the heat and humidity.
9. Mission 4 Drive-In (San Antonio)
This is just one of the whopping 20 drive-ins that used to exist in San Antonio - that's more than are currently operating in the entire state! It had to shut down once, but luckily it was revived in 2001 and continues to light up the San Antonio night sky to this day and hopefully far into the future.
10. Midway Drive-In (Turkey)
Midway first opened in 1955 with a 200-car capacity, more than enough for this town of less than 1,000 people. It operated for 32 years before going "dark" for 13 and finally being resurrected by a schoolteacher in 2000. If you're ever in this neck of the woods, pay it a visit - if nothing else, to show your support for the brave woman who decided to make such a huge investment for the sake of entertainment and nostalgia.
Have you been to any of these drive-in theaters in Texas? Which one is your favorite? Did this article bring back any cherished childhood memories?