Back in 2020, when movie theatres across the country were forced to close their doors due to the pandemic, drive-in movie theaters became a go-to spot for anyone looking to have some safe and socially-distant fun.

The recent disappointment of the sale and closing of Sunset Drive-In in Middleport is an unfortunate reminder to Western New Yorkers that drive-ins are few and far between here in New York State. 

The History Of Drive-In Theatres

The first drive-in in the United States opened in 1933 in Pennsauken, New Jersey, and cost 25 cents a ticket. At its peak in the 1960s, The United States had approximately 4,000 drive-in theaters in operation; over 150 of those in New York State alone. Today, in 2022, only 22 drive-in movie theatres remain in the Empire state. 

Why Drive-In Movies Are The Best

Drive-In movie theaters really are a treasure, even if they may be hard to find these days. Why?

  • They don’t just play the new stuff. You can see classics you haven’t seen since you were a kid, blockbusters that are a few months old (for cheaper than you’d pay at the IMAX), and even some quirky-themed movies like this weekly horror summer feature at the Transit Drive-In in Lockport.
  • You get more bang for your buck at the drive-in. Movies in an indoor theater average $12 to $15 bucks, whereas at the drive-in, you’ll pay a little less. But the big wallet win is that drive-ins often make it a double feature, so you’re getting two movies for the price of less than one.
  • The seating is honestly better. One could argue that modern-day movie theater recliners are the most comfortable way to watch a movie these days. But one thing those fancy chairs don’t have that my car does? Heated seats, and/or air-conditioning blasting right on my face.
  • You can bring your own snacks. Okay, so I’m not sure how “ethical” this is, but drive-in movie theaters make it way too easy to sneak in your own food to save some money. However, I still can’t resist buying a bucket of buttery popcorn at the drive-in… it’s just better…and worth having to vacuum my car out at Delta Sonic the next day. 

Whether you’re looking for a hit of nostalgia or a unique night out - here are the 22 remaining drive-in movie theatres for your outdoor movie-viewing pleasure here in New York State.

22 Drive-In Theaters Left In New York State

Whether you’re looking for a hit of nostalgia or a unique night out - here are the 22 remaining drive-in movie theatres for your outdoor movie-viewing pleasure here in New York State.