One of our family’s favorite summer adventures is an annual trip to the drive-in movie theater.
If our schedules allow, we try to squeeze a few more trips in if possible, because we have so much fun!
I’m sharing tips and what items to pack for the drive-in movie to help you have a great experience.
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Drive-in movies are perfect for a date night or hanging out with friends and family.
Great memories guaranteed!
The drive-in is also an affordable way for families to see two first-run movies. The success of an awesome night at the drive-in comes down to a little prep work before you go.
Here is what is on our packing list to bring to the Drive-In Movie Theater
Depending on the temperatures, you will most likely want to sit outside of your vehicle.
We bring camping chairs and we’ve also taken out the bench seat from our minivan in years past too. I know that it sounds pretty redneckish, but it’s very comfortable.
You can also set up a great area for kids in the back of a minivan. If you have a truck, bring an air mattress and pillows for supreme comfort.
I’m also a big fan of air loungers because they pack small and they are super comfortable.
2. Pack a Cooler with drinks
We pack drinks for the kids, water, ice tea or soft drinks, and a thermos of coffee with some creamer for the 2nd movie.
Trust me when I say that you will need something to help you stay awake, especially for the second movie.
Many of the second movies don’t even begin until around 11:30.
3. Dinner & Snacks
We typically bring pizza with us and at other times we have fed our family before but everyone is instantly hungry as soon as we arrive anyway.
Hot and Ready Little Caesars is always a fast option or we have called a pizza chain ahead of time that is near the drive-in and just picked it up on the way in so that it’s still warm.
You will also need time to mobilize everything you are bringing so who really wants to cook and clean dinner before?
You’re staying up late so it’s all about the carbs. You can’t go wrong with popcorn, pretzels, and chips.
If you are opting for healthier options you might need to do a little prepping before you go.
The Dollar Tree is a great place to stop for movie theater-style candies or you can purchase a candy mix on Amazon.
We typically let everyone pick out one of their favorites and then have a few snacks like Twizzlers for sharing.
Extra Money for Concession Snacks
**Please note that some drive-ins do charge a fee if you bring your own food because they make money off of their concession sales.
The concession sales help keep the drive-in theaters in operation. Please buy from the concession stand if you can afford to.
4. Plates, Napkins, and Plastic Cups
These come in handy for serving meals and snacks. Baby wipes are also great for serving popcorn or smaller candies.
Baby wipes are also a great idea for sticky fingers and spills.
Save your car battery and make sure that you test your batteries before you go. If you don’t want to deal with finding batteries opt for a solar-powered radio.
6. Sports stuff to play with before it gets dark
You need to get there early if you want a good spot at the drive-in.
Having a glow in the dark football or frisbee, etc makes the time fly by with kids.
Your kids will also instantly make new friends to play with.
A portable cornhole set is also a nice idea for the adults while they wait.
7. Bug Spray
Better safe than sorry. You don’t want to take home mosquitos bites as a souvenir. Make sure that you pack bug spray!
If you are bringing a baby, consider purchasing a stroller mosquito net to protect them from the bugs.
8. A Snuggie and Multiple Blankets
This is a place where you can wear your Snuggie with pride because you are not freezing your booty off.
Weather can be deceptive and a warm day still makes for a really cool night.
9. Sweatshirts and jeans or your favorite- stretchy yoga pants
….because you will be consuming a week’s worth of calories in one evening and it makes you feel less guilty when your pants aren’t cutting off the oxygen. Before the movie starts, you might want to go ahead and help change your younger kids into pajamas.
10. A portable DVD player, Tablet, or Cell Phone with Kids Movies
Just in case your 2nd movie is PG-13 or too scary or violent for small children, you can have them watch another movie in the opposite direction of your car.
You might want to bring earbuds for them too.
11. Bring Plastic Bags for Garbage
You will accumulate trash pretty quickly and it’s easier to keep your vehicle clean if you have bags handy for trash.
12. You can still bring your baby if you have one
When our kids were really little, we just brought their portable crib with us.
It’s a great option if you have a baby and you need to get out and don’t want to pay for a sitter.
It gets dark really quick when you are trying to find your car from the bathroom.
Bring a real flashlight or make sure that you have the flashlight app on your phone.
Just because they are fun. Glow necklaces and glow sticks are an easy and inexpensive way to make the drive in a little more magical. Glow sticks can also help you track your kids easier when it gets dark.
15. Bring Rope
Some drive-ins theaters supply rope for vehicles to tie down their trunks. It doesn’t hurt to have some just in case you plan on viewing the movie from the back of your vehicle. Clothesline rope also works.
16. Check your screen # for each movie
This is important if you are visiting a multiple-screen drive-in. There is a chance that your 1st and 2nd movies will be played on different screens.
Drive-In Movie Packing List
Use the packing list above so that you don’t forget any drive-in movie essentials.
Local Drive-In Theaters Near Cincinnati
We have a few options in the Cincinnati Metro for drive-in movies.
2255 OH-125, Amelia, OH
1816 Old Oxford Rd, Hamilton, OH
Find a Drive-In Theater Near You
Use this search to find the closest drive-in movie theater to you.
Additional Summer Articles to Check Out
Did I leave anything out?
Leave me a comment and let me know what you bring to the drive-in.
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