Did you know that in their heyday, post WWII, there were about 4,000 drive-in movie theaters across America?
Today, only three Connecticut drive-in movie theaters remain in the entire state.
Losing your memory of life shortly after World War II?
Perhaps you were:
- Too young
- Too urban
To remember the joy of watching a movie at the local drive-in movie theater.
In which case, a visit to a drive-in theater in CT is something you can’t miss.
Nothing could be more nostalgic than watching a movie on a balmy summer evening under the stars.
Connecticut drive-ins cling to the romance and whimsy of simpler times when a date at the local drive-in theater was the perfect place to “neck.” And cramming as many friends in the trunk as possible was just a typical Saturday night.
A visit to Connecticut in the summer wouldn’t be complete without catching a movie at one of our favorite retro drive-in movie theaters throughout the state.
Connecticut drive-in movie theaters
The drive-in movie theater started in 1933 in nearby New Jersey.
With rising property prices and mom-and-pop businesses closing, most drive-in movie theaters closed across the country, including Connecticut.
The remaining movie theaters within driving distance of downtown Greenwich are all in more rural areas.
Pleasant Valley Drive-In Movie Theater
- Location: 47 River Road, Barkhamsted
- Viewing times: Thursdays through Sundays 9 p.m.
- Capacity: 250 cars
Drive north into the lovely Litchfield Hills to find the tiny town of Barkhamsted, surrounded by rolling hillocks. They provide the quintessential scenic landscape you’d expect when visiting Connecticut.
The Pleasant Valley Drive In Movie Theater is the pride of Barkhamsted.
The theater sits on three acres by the Farmington River. This drive-in has been operating since 1947. The current owners have been showing movies for 25 years with a commitment to maintaining a true, nostalgic drive-in movie experience for movie lovers.
Movies start at 9 p.m., though the gates open at 6:30 p.m. when you can also buy tickets, cash only. Check their website to see what movies are showing. But does it really matter since it’s all about the experience?
The Original Southington Drive-In
- Location: 995 Meriden Waterbury Turnpike, Plantsville
- Viewing times: Saturdays, 30 minutes after sunset
- Capacity: Until the lot is full, but walk-ins are welcome
You can’t beat the casual yet authentic nature of the Southington Drive-in.
What’s more authentic than saying movie times start 30 minutes after sunset and that capacity is based on when the lot is full?
Throughout the summer the drive-in hosts movies every Saturday, with the gates opening at 6 p.m. You can choose to watch the movie in your vehicle, or “walk in” with a picnic blanket or fold-up chairs to join fellow moviegoers under the pavilion.
This is a not-for-profit drive-in. It originally opened in 1955 and showed movies until 2002. In 2004, locals realized they had an opportunity to use the property as an extension of nearby Recreation Park.
Six years later, locals created the Southington Drive-In Committee to reopen the drive-in. Proceeds from the snack bar go to the Southington High School DECA Club.
It’s the perfect place to indulge your inner philanthropist.
Mansfield Drive-In Theater and Marketplace
- Location: 228 Stafford Road, Mansfield Center
- Viewing times: Daily starting at 9 or 9:15 p.m.
- Capacity: Three screens on 40 acres
Mansfield, Connecticut, sits in the Quiet Corner of the state.
So, it’s a bit of a hike from Greenwich, but it’s worth adding to your list of Connecticut day trips.
This CT town features destination-worthy Mansfield Hollow State Park, a popular haunt for nature lovers.
Are dining and shopping more your style?
Then visit the downtown Storrs area, for that collegiate experience (it’s the home of UConn’s main campus).
If you’re looking for something more vintage, or simply unique, visit the largest flea market in eastern Connecticut at the Mansfield Drive-In’s 40-acre complex.
Mansfield Drive-In has been providing entertainment to locals and tourists alike since 1954. The same family has operated it for more than 45 years.
It’s also the largest of Connecticut’s drive-ins, with three outdoor screens.
If you don’t have time to grab dinner, their concession stand is retro-cool with vintage-worthy treats and all the guilty movie-viewing snacks you can munch.
Hudson Valley drive-in movie theaters
Despite being in New York State, much of the Hudson River Valley is a shorter drive from Greenwich than Mansfield, CT, for example.
A few more drive-in movie theater options include:
Warwick Drive-In Theater
- Location: 5 Warwick Turnpike, Warwick, NY
- Viewing times: Daily starting at 8:45 p.m. (arrive by 7:45)
- Capacity: 700 cars on three screens
First constructed in 1950, the Warwick Drive-in Theater is a family operation across the Hudson River from Greenwich.
While the movie theater is an old-school experience, this particular drive-in theater shows current films. Check movie times and schedules on their website.
And thanks to an incline in the space, every spot has a great view of the screens.
Overlook Drive-In Theater
- Location: 126 De Garmo Road, Poughkeepsie, NY
- Viewing times: Friday, Saturday, Sunday; first showing after sunset
- Capacity: 750 cars
Featuring a movie screen as tall as a 6-story building, Overlook Drive-In Theater in Poughkeepsie, New York, has the largest screen in the Tri-State Area.
Hyde Park Drive In Theater
The family that owns Overlook also owns this entry on the list of Hudson Valley drive-ins.
Hyde Park Drive In features an 82-foot screen at a theater the Cohen family has owned and operated since 1950.
A hot summer night is the ideal time to enjoy what the theater calls Cinema al fresco, with hundreds of people on blankets and lawn chairs dotting the vast grass field under the movie screen.
More nostalgic and vintage finds in Connecticut
Summertime is the perfect opportunity to rediscover some of the more nostalgic finds across Connecticut.
Discover your next addition to your vintage collection at one of the top flea markets in Connecticut.
Or plan your next day trip around a drive-in movie theater, and find one close to:
- Top summer attractions and activities across Connecticut
- Towns hosting Connecticut summer festivals
- Or take your pick of one of the best places to visit in Connecticut in the summer
Get the most out of your visit, any time of the year, when you download a free copy of the Connecticut Travel Guide.