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Top Texas drive-in theaters

Stars & Stripes Drive-In Theatre in New Braunfels, Texas Stars and Stripes Drive-In Theatre in New Braunfels, Texas. | Photo by Jim Flynn

Drive-ins were already making a bit of a comeback in Texas before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Some people attributed the resurgence to nostalgia for a bygone era. Others raved that new sound and projection technology had improved the drive-in experience of yore. Now, given the need to social distance and the health risks associated with indoor theaters, drive-ins are even more popular. “People are loving the drive-in experience and appreciate having a safe movie night out of the house,” says Ryan Smith, owner of Stars and Stripes drive-ins in Lubbock and New Braunfels.

Here are eight drive-ins worth checking out around Texas.

1. Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In

Two locations: 2015 E.M. Franklin Avenue, Austin, and 800 Harrell Parkway, Round Rock.

Condé Nast Traveler once included Blue Starlite’s Austin theater in its list of “The Coolest Outdoor Movie Theaters Around the World,” thanks largely to its downtown location and the city skyline glowing nearby. With locations in Austin and Round Rock, Blue Starlite shows classic movies, as well as new indie and cult films. Among new pandemic rules, car windows must be rolled up 75 percent if occupants aren’t wearing masks.

2. Coyote Drive-In

223 NE 4th Street, Fort Worth.

Coyote has four screens showing films and a backdrop of the twinkling Fort Worth skyline, so watching a movie here beats spending another night at home Netflix and chilling. Guests ages 10 and up are required to wear face coverings in public spaces, and movie-goers can use their smartphone to order concessions, including Frito pie, nachos, and churros. 

You may also like: The Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District’s renovation puts a swanky new shine on ‘cowtown’

3. The Showboat Drive-In Theater

22422 FM 2920, Hockley. 

Located about 40 miles northwest of Houston, this drive-in has two high-definition digital screens. Tickets, including parking permits, are sold online.

4. Graham Drive-In

1519 4th Street, Graham. 

Dating back to 1948, this weekend-only drive-in is located roughly 90 miles northwest of Fort Worth. Patrons must leave two spaces between vehicles and remain in their car—or beside the car or in the bed of their pickup— except when visiting concessions or the restroom. Blue Bell ice cream fans will love the floats and sundaes.

5. Stars and Stripes Drive-In Theatre

Two locations: 5101 Clovis Road, Lubbock, and 1178 Kroesche Lane, New Braunfels.

Stars and Stripes’ theaters in Lubbock and New Braunfels have sold out on plenty of Friday and Saturday nights of late. Concessions include hot dogs, nachos, funnel cakes, and milkshakes. 

You may also like: Take a music road trip across Texas

6. WesMer Drive-In

2090 W. Business 83.

This old-school theater, which closed temporarily in late July due to storm damage and a pandemic-related countywide curfew, is said to be the Rio Grande Valley’s only remaining drive-in. Located about 30 miles from McAllen in Mercedes, the drive-in is spacious enough to host more than 100 cars. Cash is required, and half-price discounts are available Tuesdays ($5 per car). Check the website for updates about reopening.

7. Doc’s Drive-In Theatre

1540 Satterwhite Road, Buda. 

Located south of Austin off Interstate 35, Doc’s opened in 2018. The snack menu includes vegan chicken wings, pulled pork sandwiches, and s’mores. 

8. Tascosa Drive-In

1999 Dumas Drive, Amarillo.

This venerable Amarillo drive-in opened in 1952 and shows double features. Pets are allowed, so be sure to bring Fido if they screen The Secret Life of Pets.

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