The Ultimate Drive-in Movie Date Night: What to Bring, Do, and More
Nicole and I love drive-in date night.
What other activity lets you cuddle-up under the stars, enjoy a double feature, and chow on an awesome variety of concession stand food? Plus, there’s an ambiance you don’t get at movie theaters – it feels like a classic, a date night from a bygone era.
There are a couple here in Florida and I’m sure there’s at least one not too far from you if you’re willing to look and drive a bit. But let me tell you… it’s worth it!
Here’s what I’d like to cover in this post:
- Why going to the drive-in is an awesomely cute date night idea
- The stuff you should bring to a drive-in movie date night
- What you ought to be wearing when you’re under the stars
- A few tips and tricks for going to the drive-in
- The unwritten “rules” of what to do at a drive in movie date
Plus, a helpful checklist if you rather get a tl;dr or print it out before the big premier.
Okay, so yeah… let’s go-ah-to-theee-mooooovies.
Drive-in Movies: What They’re Like (for the Uninitiated)
Imagine pulling up into a field with dozens (often 100+ cars & trucks) all parked at the direction of a big ol’ screen. It’s dark, it’s noisy, there are flashing lights from people coming and going. Off to the side is a concession stand and set of bathrooms. There are kids running around and groups huddled in the back of their trucks or piled into a car.
That’s the drive-in experience.
No, you’re not there for some crazy cinematic experience with Dolby sound and complete darkness to focus on the movie. You’re there for the experience – you can choose to keep it private in your vehicle or sit out among the rest of the people on the vehicle’s hood, in the back, or pulling up a few chairs.
There are only about 300-ish drive-in theaters still operating in the U.S. so getting to one is quite the experience! It’s like going back in time but with modern movies.
There’s the stigma that a lot of stuff happens in the back seat of the car. Yeah, it happens sometimes but honestly, it’s not like the 50’s. There are too many people roaming around to get into that type of stuff – maybe some kissing but not the other stuff haha.
What makes a drive-in date so great?
- It’s an experience you don’t find too often
- It’s stupidly cheap compared to chain movie theaters
- It’s really personal or becomes a party
- It’s usually double-featured so double the fun
- It’s usually pet, grilling, and smoking friendly
You can technically bring whatever you want in too – meaning you could snag a pizza before going in and chow down on that. BUT. The concession stand prices are also really, really cheap.
At our local drive in, prices are like:
- $2 hot dogs
- $3 pizza slices
- $3 large popcorns (with refills)
- $2 large sodas (with refills)
Basically… everything is around $2 – $3 unless you get some of the bigger items and even then, it’s probably 75% cheaper than a regular movie theater.
Let’s talk about the movies:
- Double features for single ticket price
- Usually always some great deal going on
- Usually always newest releases
- Some “classic” nights playing oldies
The one we go to has two screens. You can jump between them so technically you always have two movies you could watch so there isn’t a lot of arguing about what to see. The screens are usually 40-50 feet large so if you’re parking up close it’s super massive – but even further back it’s great viewing.
About the staff:
- Always courteous (though sometimes a little odd)
- Usually movie fanatics (great for conversations)
The people there are really cool from every time we’ve been. It seems like one of those jobs you’d have loved in your teens and early 20’s. Get to watch movies on the big screen with equally enthusiastic patrons? Sign me up!
What You Should Bring to a Drive-In Movie Date
Honestly, you don’t need much to make a drive-in movie date one of the best outings. You could easily drop-in with your car or truck, tune it to the radio station, and cuddle up. Butttttt… this kind of changes once you’re setting outside to watch the flicks.
Here are my recommendations for what to bring for a drive-in date (aka the drive in checklist):
- Mosquito repellant
- Folding chairs
- Blanket (for the ground)
- Blanket (to stay warm)
Yup, that’s about all you need!
You’ll definitely want some mosquito repellant depending where you live. Those buggers can get vicious when you’re outside for such a long time. The good thing is that there are so many people you won’t get bit up too too much. But, it’s good to bring nonetheless.
The radio? Most of the time you’ll have someone playing the sound through their systems, but the noise of kids usually overlaps a bit. I suggest bringing a little AM/FM radio, so you have something close by for those movies heavy on dialog.
The other things are more creature comfort stuff. We like bringing little folding camping chairs since they’re easy to stash in the trunk and setup. A blanket is helpful if you choose to sit or lay down. Just watch out for any ant hills and other bugs!
All-in-all, I think it’s a good investment if the two of you are big on movies. There are tons of drive-in date night ideas when you’re going to them often. One place we like has a swap meet a few hours before the showings where people sell stuff out of their vehicles!
What to Wear to a Drive-in Movie Date
You’ll want to bundle up…
…that’s if it’s chilly (and it can be since you’re usually in an open field).
- Casual wear
- Long-sleeves and jeans to deal with bugs
- Something cute
Think of it like any other fun outing wearing what you like. If this is a first date type thing then maybe dress up a bit. If you’ve been dating, then go in whatever you want. No one’s judging you.
Drive-in Movie Date Night Tips
It’s a little intimidating the first time you go to a drive in because it’s really unlike any movie experience you’ve had if you’re normally going to the chains like AMC and whatnot.
For this – I’d like to share a few tips:
- Always be on alert when you’re driving and parking – watch out for people!
- Try not to turn on your car’s dome light or headlights unless you really need to
- Get there early if you want to get the best spots
- Watch where the families are going so you can avoid groups of kids
- Try parking backward if you have a truck or back – so you can lounge
- If you’ve got kids, set some rules so they’re not getting lost
- Support the drive-in by buying from the concession stand
- Pack a good mix of food and drinks if you’re bringing stuff along
- Do be aware people may smoke and make a lot of noise
- Don’t trash the place – respect your area and clean up after yourself
- Don’t drink and drive, seriously!
- Bring a portable radio anyways since it’s good to hear the movie’s dialog when it’s noisy
- Pack a few lawn game type things (like a football) to goof off between showings
- Exit safely when everything is wrapping up
I really, really want you to be extra careful when driving around the area. There are kids roaming around and a lot of people like laying next to their car’s vs front/back. Always be aware of your surroundings and drive extra slow!
The Unwritten “Rules” of a Drive-in Date
This isn’t the 50’s where everyone is pulling up in their convertibles and just going right after each other in the back seat. That’s not to say you and your date can’t do that. But… don’t get too carried away.
I’d say these would be the unwritten rule when doing a date night at the drive in:
- Sit outside if you want to keep a bit of space if this is the first date
- Go when it’s nice and crispy cool so there’s a good reason to cuddle up under blankets
- If someone is getting annoying – deal with it – then find a new spot between movies
- Support the staff and operations by getting stuff at the concession stand (it’s hella cheap)
- Respect any rules the drive-in theaters set especially with parking and safety
- Don’t take up two spaces – there are always more people coming and going
- Keep your pets on a leash – no one wants an incident
- Don’t go wandering around barefoot because you never know what’s on the ground
- This isn’t your Netflix and chill type of activity – toooo many people, and that’s a bit rude
I didn’t make these rules. I’m sure some drive-in aficionado would add a ton extra. But, I think this is a good list to start with if it’s your first time. You’ll eventually make your own set of rules.
Where to Find Drive-in Theaters
There aren’t many left but you can generally get a couple of hits by searching for “drive-in theaters near me” in Google (of course). Otherwise, there’s a neat site called Drive-ins.com that keeps a running list of theaters throughout the United States.
Word-of-mouth and Facebook work well, too. You’ll probably get a couple for your list by following their pages where you can find movie showtimes and info like ticket prices. You know how to do these things… I’m sure you’ll figure it all out.
Final Thoughts and then Over to You
Nicole and I try to do a drive-in theater every few months when there are awesome movies coming out. We especially like catching some of the summer blockbusters. But, catching some horror movies around Halloween is really great, too, because you’ve got that creepy outdoor vibe.
A drive-in date night usually sets us back about $20:
- $10 for the tickets
- $10 for snacks & drinks
We have a little drive-in date night “kit” that has stuff like bug spray, chairs, and blanket/pillows. We’d love to go sometime in a truck with friends to convert it over into a neat couch-like thing. But yeah, you really can’t beat a double feature movie date when normal theaters it would be close to $30 – $50!
We usually do this in place of dinner and movie since you get pretty decent food there anyway.
What do you think of this drive-in date night idea? Been on one and want to share your thoughts about what to bring, what to do, and other helpful suggestions? Leave a comment below!
Nicole and I love drive-in date night. What other activity lets you cuddle-up under the stars, enjoy a double feature, and chow on an awesome variety of concession stand food? Plus, there’s an ambiance you don’t get at movie theaters – it feels like a classic, a date night from a bygone era. There are…