Looking for an evening out without leaving the confines of your car? It’s drive-in season, which means affordable fun under the stars.
Drive-in movie popularity peaked in the 1950s with more than 4,000 theaters nationwide, but slowly declined in the following decades. Baby boomers grew up, television offered in-home entertainment alternatives and indoor theaters offered advanced screening technologies.
By 2008, just 400 drive-in theaters remained. Though the Pittsburgh region still has several drive-in locations, many area theaters have gone dark due to high costs associated with transitioning from traditional 35 mm film to digital. As of Summer 2016, only seven drive-in locations remain in the greater Pittsburgh region.
So grab some snacks, load up the car and take a trip down memory lane with the remaining area drive-ins below:
6233-, 6259 National Pike E
Grindstone, PA 15442
Take a drive down the Mon River to the Brownsville Drive-In, where new releases can be seen on one of three screens. Not looking to catch a movie? Brownsville Drive-In also offers an 18-hole mini golf course for $2.50 per person. Although the drive-in is only open April-October, a classic diner sits at the front entrance and is open year-round. With its final digital conversions of screens two and three occurring in early 2016, the Brownsville Drive-In offers a variety of entertainment that is sure to keep the future of drive-in theater venues bright.
500 Moon Clinton Rd
Coraopolis, PA 15108
Opening in the height of the drive-in craze, Dependable Drive-In has been in operation since 1950. Four screens offer a variety of new releases. With gift cards, a rewards program called “Dependable Dollars,” premiere parties and contests, Dependable engages theater goers to help them save money and keep coming back. Grab a burger, funnel cake, ice cream cone or other treats from the snack bar, kick back and enjoy the show.
U.S. Highway 119
Connellsville, PA 15425
Although tantalizing wafts of funnel cakes and popcorn will take you back in time, Comet has gone digital. Open seven days a week, Comet Drive-In offers two digital projection screens featuring new releases. Comet’s facility also features a flea market with admission for $1 per car load. Vendor spots are available for $8 per space. So load up the kids, but leave your furry friends at home. Comet Drive-In has a no dog policy.
309 Drive-In Lane
Mt. Pleasant, PA 15666
This three-screen drive-in theater has been showing the latest flicks since 1947. Originally a one-screen joint, two were added in the early 2000s and made its digital conversion in 2014. Evergreen boasts two snack areas, the Snack Bar and the smaller Snack Shack, which provide convenient access to snacks through the duration of the movie. The top-seller is the cheeseburger, which owner Joe Warren still makes, according to his father’s chopped beef steakburger recipe. With homemade snack favorites and popular movies, Evergreen makes Mount Pleasant that much more pleasant every April-September.
2780 River Rd
Vandergrift, PA 15690
It's Armstrong County’s only remaining operational drive-in, in operation since 2005. Open seven nights a week during the summer season, Riverside offers screenings of the latest releases on its digital projector. Riverside offers theme nights throughout its season like “Retro Thursday” and “Monster-Rama." Grab a spot on the lawn and a cold soft drink.
Starlight Drive-In (Formerly Pioneer Drive-In)
1985 N Main Street Extension
Butler, PA 16001
Although Starlight Drive-In has operated since the late '50s, this drive-in joint is anything but outdated. Under new ownership, Starlight Drive-In has been fully digitalized with HD-quality projectors. The snack bar got a facelift, and as of spring 2016, has a miniature golf course and video/pinball arcade. The facility also features The Starlight Cafe, open Sunday for breakfast between 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and lunch from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., with coffee service beginning at 7:30 a.m. The “Starlight Swap Shop” gives customers the opportunity to buy collectibles from vendors on Sundays from late April to early October.
Skyview Drive-In (Formerly The Carmichael’s Drive-In)
564 PA 88 South
Carmichaels, PA 15320
Skyview had its first showing in 1946, and has been in continuous operation ever since. With two screens, Skyview offers films from the newest Pixar release to the scariest new thriller. To set a nostalgic mood, Skyview begins each movie with classic drive-in music. It also offers occasional live music and flea markets for a nighttime hotspot during summers in Carmichaels. Grab a bite of a fish sandwich or a basket of hot wings and enjoy a movie with a view.