Is there anything more wholesome than popping open the hatch on a starry night and digging into a bucket of popcorn as the opening credits roll at the local drive-in theater? Drive-ins been on the entertainment endangered species list for years, with the current national estimate at around 325, down from a peak of about4,000 in the 1950s. But in the Hudson Valley, where vintage experiences are in vogue, a handful of drive-ins have hung on through the years. And now, these plein-air moviegoing experiences are more popular than ever with pandemic precautions driving everyone outdoors.
Screening everything from horror films to cult classics and new blockbuster releases, here are seven Hudson Valley drive-ins.
Hyde Park Drive-In
4114 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park
Opened in 1950, the family-owned Hyde Park Drive-In is likely the Hudson Valley’s oldest continuously operating outdoor theater. Their season typically opens mid-April, weather permitting, and runs through September. During summer, the Hyde Park Drive-In is open seven days a week showing two films a night on their one screen. The concession stand offers up black angus beef hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, and fresh pizza. Or snack on popcorn, candy, pretzels, ice cream, or a milkshake. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for children ages 5-11, and free for children under five.
126 De Garmo Road, Poughkeepsie
About 10 miles south, in Poughkeepsie, Overlook Drive-In is run by the same owners as the Hyde Park theater. The 750-car lot hosts a six-story screen showing the latest releases as well as occasional throwback classics. reopening in the spring. The drive-in is open Fridays through Sundays, showing two films a night. Concession stand offerings include French fries, hot dogs, chicken tenders, popcorn, candy, and fresh funnel cakes. Like Hyde Park, admission is $10 for adults, $7 for children (5-11), and free for children under five.
Four Brothers Drive-In Theater
4957 Route 22, Amenia
While some think the rickety, throwback vibes are part of the charm of the drive-in experience, Four Brothers has opted to modernize drive-in experience with spiffy amenities like electric car charging, mini golf, playground, and onsite Airstream lodging in the “Hotel Caravana.” Four Brothers screens two films daily on their state-of-the-art 4k digital projector. The screenings are mostly new releases, and on some Thursdays, there’s a triple header, including an older film (#tbt). Their upgraded concessions include burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, shakes, smoothies, homemade desserts, ice cream, pizza, and craft cocktails! Don’t worry you can also get classic movie snacks like buttery popcorn, cotton candy, soft pretzels, and candy. Weekend pre-show events include live music, a petting zoo, and face painting. General admission is $11, seniors (65+) and veterans are $8, kids 5-10 are $6, and children under 5 can watch for free.
5 Warwick Turnpike, Warwick
The Warwick Drive-In, open since the mid-1950s, is another local legend. The plein-air theater will reopen on March 19, weather permitting. The property features three screens, playing six movies a night across genres from family-friendly to comedies, dramas, and action flicks. They also occasionally screen old films and themed flicks, like holiday movies. The hot food options are classic concession stand fare: hotdogs, hamburgers, popcorn chicken, mozzarella sticks, and french fries. They also have classic cinema snacks like popcorn, candy, pretzels, nachos, and soda. Admissions for every show from 7pm to 10:30pm are $12 for adults, $8 for children (4-11), and free for children under four.
10700 NY-32, Greenville
This northern Catskills drive-in destination is slated to open back up on May 8. Their 85-inch screen shows a curated mix of first-run features, retro and independent flicks, and filmmaker-direct offerings. The spring season will kick off with screenings on Friday and Saturday nights, and expand to include Thursday and Sunday later in summer. The snack bar offers hot dogs, chili, mac and cheese, and a chili mac ‘n’ cheese, if you can’t decide. They also have popcorn, candy, and jumbo chocolate-chip cookies that can be ordered and delivered right to your car during the movie. Local beer, wine, and specialty cocktails are also available at the concession stand. Admission is $8 for one ticket, $16 for two, $20 for three, and $24 for 4+ tickets. Children under five watch for free.
10699 Route 9W, Coxsackie
The Hi-Way Drive-In, located between Catskill and Coxsackie, offers old-school grit and glory, with aluminum wrapped hot dogs in a warmer, neon orange cheese and nachos, Sno Kones, and popcorn by the gallon bucket. The drive-in has a whopping four screens, each showing a double feature. With eight films a night, Hi-Way is able to curate a mix of new releases, cult classics, horror films, and not-so-new Blockbusters, with at least one kid-friendly option per night. If you’re looking for a place to see anything from The Goonies to Jaws, The Shining to Grease on the silver screen—Hi-Way is it. The drive-in will reopen in the spring on the weekends only, and then every night in the summer until Labor Day. Occasionally, they will host special events and movie marathons.
Fair Oaks Drive In Theater
365 Bloomingburg Road, Middletown
The Fair Oaks Drive-In in Middletown generally screens current selections, though with COVID messing up Hollywood blockbuster roll-outs, 2021 will bring a mix of new releases and classic films on their two screens this spring season. Some movies already on the calendar are Caddyshack and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. The 2021 Fright Fest all-night event will take place on September 4. And the 1975 cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show with Translucent Dreams will make a victory lap. Fair Oaks has an extensive snack bar, with candy, some of the best popcorn in the area, hot dogs, nachos, and on the weekends, burgers and food specials. Admission tickets––sold day-of only––are $25 per carload, or $10 for ages 12 and up, $8 for children 5-11, and free for kids under five.