Big Screens Under the Stars - Carolina Country
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Big Screens Under the Stars

Drive-in movies are making a comeback

By Lori Grossman

Big Screens Under the Stars

I’ll admit: the last time I was at a drive-in movie was back in high school. And at that age, I was more interested in talking about boys, eating popcorn and enjoying the night air from the back of a pickup than what was playing on the big screen.

For a time, it seemed drive-ins were fading from the landscape, relegated to fond memories. But drive-ins were making a bit of a comeback before the pandemic began, and now, with social distancing still a necessity, most are filling their parking lots. Two in particular — Albemarle’s Eden Drive-In and Henderson’s Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre — were included in Architectural Digest’s list of the 25 most charming drive-in movie theaters left in America.

This isn’t a full list of NC drive-ins, but it’s a start. Check for the latest showtimes with the drive-in of your choice before you go.


Sunset Drive-In • Shelby

sunsetdriveintheatre.com • 704-434-7782
Plans to be open for the season starting on Memorial Day weekend. Cash only. Outside food is allowed if you clean up, and there is a concessions menu on their website. No grills or pets.


Hounds Drive-In • Kings Mountain

houndsdrivein.com • 704-739-4424
Two 50-x-100-foot screens show current releases on Friday and Saturday. Pets must be on a leash. No outside food or drinks, so check out the concession menu on their website. No waiting—26 restrooms!


State Line Movie Time • Tabor City

statelinemovietime.com • 910-499-1756
Owner Sherry Barnes dreamed about building this drive-in, then did most of the work herself. It opened in May 2019 and is open every night, year-round. One big screen shows double features. Only cash at the gate. Bring your own cooler and grill if you pay $10 for a cooler pass when you buy your admission. Leashed pets are welcome.


Lexington Cinema and Drive-In Lexington

lexingtoncinema.com • 336-237-0029
First-run movies every night, except Monday. Limited concessions menu on website. Cost: $15 per vehicle. They show a mix of new and older movies.


Badin Road Drive-In • Albemarle

badinrddrivein.wordpress.com • 704-983-2900
Built in 1948, closed for a time, then re-opened in 1994. Double features Friday and Saturday with current releases on two screens. Cash only. Concession options are listed on their Facebook page.


Eden Drive-In • Eden

edendrivein.wordpress.com • 336-623-9669
Two screens showing double features every Friday and Saturday. You’ll find information about showings on their Facebook page, plus a menu with your favorite drive-in snacks. Good assortment of drinks and ice cream flavors. Go old-school and order a milkshake with your burger.


The Drive-In at Carraway Village Chapel Hill

carrawayvillagedrivein.com • 919-441-1685
This one-screen drive-in opened last October. It shows a mixture of current films, Film Fest contenders and productions of iconic musicals. Tickets must be purchased online prior to the show. No outside food or drinks. Food trucks will be onsite for special events (check Facebook page), and a few concession items can be ordered online.


Triangle Drive-In • Raleigh

triangledrive.in • 919-363-4050
Located near Barnes and Noble at Triangle Town Center, this drive-in opened in response to the pandemic. Shows family-friendly films on Friday and Saturday. Tickets and concessions must be ordered online, from food trucks or you can visit the mall’s food court. They plan to remain open throughout the summer.


Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre Henderson

raleighroaddrivein.com • 919-336-9300
Once known as “The Moon-Glo Drive-In,” it opened in 1949 and is the oldest operating drive-in in the state. Open year-round with showings Thursday through Saturday. Check out the helpful page for first-time visitors on the website. Order snacks at concession window or online. You’ll be paged or texted to pick up your food.

About the Author

Freelance writer Lori Grossman currently lives in Texas, but carries memories of North Carolina in her heart.

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