Drive-in movies are fun for all ages and a great way to enjoy the outdoors.
What you bring to the drive-in movie is a big part of making it a successful and memorable experience.
Use these drive-in movie tips to make the most of your evening.
This article contains affiliate links.
The Best Drive-in Movie Experience
With some preparation ahead of time, you can ensure that everyone with you will have an awesome time at the drive-in movie. I love being spontaneous, but my favorite drive-in experiences have always been when I was prepared ahead of time.
Items to Buy for the Drive-in Movie Ahead of Time
Don’t leave home without these items!
Your Favorite Candy
A big part of the drive-in theater experience is enjoying all of your favorite candies. You can approach this a few different ways.
For the best value, buy candy in bulk. If you want a more customized experience, pick out individual-sized candy portions.
Popcorn, Snacks, and Themed Accessories
If the drive-in offers fresh popcorn at their concession stand I would recommend that.
If you prefer other varieties of popcorn you might want to bring your own. Smartfood or Skinny POP popcorn are great alternatives if you want a healthier option. I also like Chicago style popcorn with a mix of caramel and cheddar popcorn.
If you are bringing your own popcorn, I would suggest bringing a few popcorn themed containers for each person.
Other snacks you might want to pack are chips, trail mix, and pretzels.
Bring hand sanitizer and baby wipes for before or after you eat and plastic grocery bags or garbage bags for your trash.
Comfortable Seating Options for the Drive-In
You can sit inside your vehicle but I prefer to watch the movie outside in a camping chair, air lounger, or a zero gravity lounge chair recliner for optimal comfort.
Watch a Drive-In Movie from an Air Mattress on a Truck bed or in an SUV
If you are bringing a truck or an SUV you may prefer to watch a drive-in movie from the back of the vehicle. A truck bed air mattress or an SUV air mattress can make your movie viewing even more comfortable.
Make sure that you pack rope to tie down the hatch if you are watching the drive-in movie from the back of your minivan, hatchback, or SUV.
Outdoor Games to Play Before the Drive-in Movie Starts
I would recommend arriving at the drive-in 60-90 minutes before the movie start time to ensure that you have a great view of the screen. Outdoor games are a great way to kill time before the movie starts.
A few classics are bean bag toss or “cornhole” depending on what part of the country you live in.
A frisbee or a soft football or great options if you want something that doesn’t take up too much space in your vehicle.
How to Listen to a Drive-In Movie
Most drive-in movie theaters use an FM radio station for the sound. You may be able to access the station from the myTuner Radio app on your phone and play it through your phone with a Bluetooth speaker.
A rechargeable or hand-crank portable radio is another environmental-friendly option so that you don’t have to constantly replace batteries.
Headlamps and Flashlights for the Drive-in Movies
You don’t realize how dark it gets until you need to walk to the bathroom or when you want to make sure that you have packed up all of your gear.
How to Stay Cool at the Drive-In Movie
During the warmer months, it’s nice to have a portable rechargeable fan to help you cool down when the weather is humid.
On those extra HOT days, pack a rechargeable fan with a water spray mist to help cool you off.
If it rains during your drive-in movie you can still stay cool without running your car AC with a portable fan with a tripod clip.
Pack a Cooler With Drinks
Don’t forget the drinks and pack a cooler. For younger kids, you may want to pack juice boxes or flavored water.
If you are staying for two movies, you might want to pack iced coffee, soft drinks/pop (depending on where you are from), or energy drinks for the adults.
How to Stay Warm at the Drive-In Movie
As the colder weather approaches, it’s nice to have extra fleece blankets on hand to make it cozier as the temperatures drop throughout the evening.
If you are determined to stay outside you might want to sit inside a sleeping bag. I’ve learned this trick from many cold lacrosse games on a bleacher.
If you are feeling extra bold you could sport a stylish Snuggie.
Don’t Forget the Bug Spray
In a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to worry about the bugs but its better to be safe than sorry. Reduce your chances of getting bug bites with insect repellant spray or bug spray wipes.
Glow Sticks and Necklaces
Glow sticks and glow necklaces are fun for adults and kids alike. Another perk of kids wearing glow necklaces is that parents and other vehicles can see their kids quickly as it gets darker.
What to Pack for the Drive-in Movies Checklist
Use the image above a checklist guide before you leave for the drive-in theater.
Are You Ready for Your Next Drive-in Movie Adventure?
Find a drive-in movie theater near you for you next adventure.