Invented in 1933 by an auto parts salesman in New Jersey, drive-ins are American icons. These vintage theaters — often run as small, family businesses — have decreased in the U.S. from about 4,000 in 1958 to less than 400 today. However, New York still has 28. And a summer road trip to New York state can entail nostalgic, warm nights with a drive-in movie under the stars.
The Warwick Drive-in in Warwick, New York, has come a long way since opening in 1950 on former farmland. You can even take in a double feature every evening on three screens during the summer.
Visit the nearby Sunday Farmer’s Market for its outstanding produce and sample homemade ice cream at the Bellvale Creamery.
In addition to a vintage movie experience, an Empire State road trip also allows you to spend the night in a classic airstream, intimate inn or stylish Tuscan villa. The Glenmere Mansion, an exquisitely decorated Relais & Chateaux property, is the place to de-stress in style. This boutique resort provides an exceptional setting in which to relax, dine and be pampered at their spa, where waves of water melt away your cares during a Moroccan/Turkish-influenced Hammam treatment in a Carrara marble bathhouse.
If you’re not in the mood for a drive-in summer blockbuster, “Chew ‘N View” is a four-course, farm-to-table, gourmet meal accompanied by art/independent films at The Grange. The casual restaurant features a creamy farmer’s cheese, tasty grilled halloumi and dishes showcasing vegetables from their own garden. The seasonal menu changes daily, but the melt-in-your-mouth lemon curd dessert is a must — with or without a movie.
Flicks are only shown once a month, so call ahead for the schedule.
In nearby Hyde Park, home of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Hyde Park Drive-In has operated since 1949 and boasts an 82-foot screen and close proximity to the famed Culinary Institute of America. For history buffs, the home of the 32nd president is a stone’s throw from the cinema.
The Four Brothers Drive In in Amenia, New York, is smaller but among the newest outdoor American movie houses. This family-run business presents Throwback Thursdays, with classics like “Casablanca” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” on the big screen at a venue billed as the “Drive In of the Future.”
Electric car chargers, restaurant food delivered to your car and fire pits to make your own s’mores are among the modern amenities offered at Four Brothers. Coming soon is another unexpected feature: After watching a film on the big screen, you can actually overnight in an Airstream beneath the celestial sky.
Iris Brooks, a travel and arts writer, has explored all seven continents. Learn more about her and photographer Jon H. Davis at NLScreativemedia.com.