10 Tips to a Wonderful Night at the Drive-in Movie Theater!

Boys at Drive In

Summer and Drive In Movies go hand-in-hand, and it’s great to see them making such a big comeback!  If you haven’t been to a drive in movie, now’s your time to go! During the past year, the Drive In has been one of our favorite forms of entertainment where I felt comfortable and safe, and able to social distance and still feel like we weren’t completely isolated!

Boys at Drive In
Image courtesy of Veronica Townes at VT Portraits

1. Buy your tickets online. Check if the theater offers online ticket sales, and if they do, purchase them online. Just like regular theaters, Drive In Theaters often sell out early. If they only sell tickets the night of the showing, be sure to arrive early.

Most Drive Ins sell tickets per person, with the Brazos Drive In in Granbury still selling by the car loads for $20 (up to 6 people), and the Tascosa Drive In in Amarillo does $10 nights every Tuesday!

2. Arrive early. Going to a Drive In Movie is an experience, and for the best time, make a full evening of it! Arrive early to get a good parking spot, walk around and get food and drinks before the movies begin! Some theaters, like the Stars and Stripes in Lubbock has a playground.

The Corral Drive In in Guymon, OK, north of Amarillo, has an attached RV park and tent camping, pretty cool after a late night at the Drive In!


3. Park on the first row. For me, parking on the first row is mandatory! I’ll arrive hours early just to be sure I can park there. You’ll never have to worry about another car blocking your view, and instead of sitting in the dirt there is usually a big grassy area under the screen where you the kids play!

4. Food Most theaters make very little off the movie sales, and depend on their concession stands for keeping the lights on! As a result, most do not allow outside food and drinks.

The Stars and Stripes Theaters in New Braunfels and Lubbock allow outside food at your car only.

The Coyote Drive In in Fort Worth has a full bar that are open all day. They also have a concession stand, and will even deliver food to your car!

5. Bring Games

While the sun makes it’s way down, we break out our chairs, shade if it’s hot, footballs, bubbles, nerf guns and other activities for the family, and the friends we always seem to make while we’re there! We’ve even brought a small card table and board games!

The Drive In is a great place to break out those glow necklaces, too!  For younger children, it’s also a way to make sure they’re easily seen by you and possible motorist.

The Drive In makes a terrific pre-slumber party activity, too! Have the kids wear their pajamas to the movie!

6. Seating 

While you can sit in your car to watch the movie, most people prefer to get out and enjoy it!  Comfortable seating makes the difference between a great experience or a so-so one!  It’s a great chance to get creative and have fun!

The standard camping chair is what most people bring, but here’s a list of some unique seating options:

  • Chaise lounges
  • Picnic blankets to lay in the grass, with lots of pillows.  A good tip here is to watch what the kids eat, because ants will come if they spill their food.
  • Air mattress
  • If you’re parking on dirt or rocks, lay out a blanket or bring an outdoor rug!

7. Mosquito Repellent 

It’s always a good idea to bring along some bug repellent, just in case. We love the ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent Lamps (affiliate link) available from Amazon. I am an Amazon Affiliate and if you purchase using this link, I do make a small commission. Thank You.

The ThermaCELL only covers a small area, so if the kids are going to be running around, or walking to the restrooms, they’ll need traditional bug repellent, too.

8. Pup Friendly

Almost all Drive Ins welcome dogs!  We love taking our pup.  Just be sure to bring some bags and clean up after your furr baby!

9. Radio

Today, Drive In Theaters no longer have the old speakers, but utilize your car radio with a low frequently station to transmit the movie.  It’s great if you’re sitting in your car, but if you plan to sit outside, bring a portable radio, and make sure your batteries are good.

The Coyote Drive In has radios on the lawn for those sitting in the front row.

10. What to do if your car battery dies? If you sit in your car, there’s a chance your car battery could die. It happens to us all the time. The universal code is raising your hood (not enough to block the view of others) and an Drive In employee, usually in a golf cart, will come by and give you a jump. If I have it, I try to give them a few bucks for helping us.

We’ve had it happen during a movie, usually at the end and we miss it!  It’s another reason to bring a radio, even if you plan to sit in your car.

Most Drive Ins will not allow you to let your car idle during the movie!

Keep Having Fun in the Texas Sun!


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