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Drive in movie theaters in New York: Where to see movies outdoors

Drive in movie theaters in NY: Where to see movies outdoors
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Drive in movie theaters are making a massive comeback in New York as the standard cinema experience has changed due to ongoing social distancing guidelines.

Although your local AMC or Regal might be closed, that doesn’t mean you can’t leave your home to catch a movie on the big screen. And now that the weather is turning, evenings are warming and summer is approaching, you’re probably looking for more excuses to spend time outside. Or maybe you've just watched all the best Netflix movies already.

Either way, it’s tradition for herds of people to gather with picnic baskets and blankets to watch open-air movies in New York parks on summer nights. But with crowd limits still in place out of concern for public health and safety, drive-in movie theaters make a feasible alternative.

At a modern drive in movie theater, viewers can park their car in front of a large projection screen and tune their FM radio to a specific station to hear the film’s synchronized audio. The experience is not quite the same as seeing a blockbuster premiere, but it’s a retro form of socializing and entertainment we could see become popular again.

Wondering where drive-in movie locations are in New York? Large parking lots or open fields make ideal outdoor theaters, but smaller venues and even restaurants are getting in on the fun, too. You just need to know where to find them, how to secure tickets and when to show up.  

Check out where you can go see drive in movies in New York below, plus how to find the screening schedules for the ones closest to you. Keep in mind most require you wear face coverings when you're not in your car, so here's where to buy face masks or how to make a face mask at home.  

Drive in movie theaters in New York: Long Island outdoor movies

Drive in movies on Long Island will be screened all summer, according to News 12. Certain venues have already planned trial events for as soon as this weekend, with plans to continue if movie-goers can adhere to mandated social distancing measures.  

The Coach Meeting House in Oyster Bay is offering a high-end, drive-in-and-dine-in experience in its parking lot every night of the week. Tickets must be purchased ahead of time and sell out quickly, so bookmark the schedule for the chance to catch a flick at this pub-turned-theater. 

In Sayville, a pop-up drive in movie theater is opening at a semi-permanent location in June, but for now locals can pull up to the Village Idiot Irish Pub on select Thursdays. Check out the restaurant’s event schedule to reserve your spot. 

Every Thursday through Sunday, the Pine Grove Inn in East Patchogue is showing a movie in their parking lot. The steakhouse is offering drive-in dinner served on disposable trays for attendees. You can call 516-885-8827 to make a reservation.

For those farther out east, the Southampton Arts Center is hosting its first drive in movie night in the Coopers Beach parking lot Memorial Day Weekend. The screening is sold out, but you can follow the Center’s schedule for future availability. 

Drive in movie theaters in New York: NYC outdoor movies

Though New York City isn’t known for parking lots, there are a number of surrounding locations looking to make drive in movie theaters happen. 

Right now the most coveted NYC drive in movie ticket around is for Astoria’s Bel Aire Diner. The 40-car driving lot sells out in minutes, and those who make it can order food using the diner’s app or website. For ticket times and availability, Bel Aire Diner says to follow its social media accounts. You’ll need to provide your driver ID information to attend, too.

Yankee Stadium is on track to host a drive in festivals in its massive Bronx parking lots this summer. Dubbed the “Uptown Drive In,” the ballpark will open every weekend for date nights and family events that can be enjoyed from within cars.

Drive in movie theater in New York: Upstate and CNY outdoor movies 

Thanks to the acreage of upstate New York, there are lots of options for drive-in movies. Perhaps the most notable one, and one closest to the city, is the Warwick Drive In in Orange County. The venue’s large screen is scheduled to show recent releases, including ones that didn’t receive a theatrical release like Trolls World Tour

Not far from Warwick the Fair Oaks Drive In is also offering viewings of new films. Advanced ticket sales are encouraged, but not required.

The Overlook Drive In and Hyde Park Drive In in Poughkeepsie are partner drive in movie theater locations with packed screening schedules. It’s dog-friendly, too, if you’d like to bring your furry friend along. Spots are available on a first come, first serve basis.

A bit farther north you’ll find the Unadilla Drive In. Information about advanced ticket purchases and screening times can be found on its Facebook page.

There are over a dozen additional drive in movie theaters in upstate and central New York. Check out this list of all the locations you can catch a movie, no matter where you are in the state:

If you're looking for more entertainment while stuck at home, check our ongoing coverage of the best Netflix shows, best shows to binge watch and best board games for families.