Watching a movie at a drive-in movie theater in Indianapolis has become an iconic summer bucket list item for my kids every year. A drive-in offers an open and airy alternative to indoor venues. Moviegoers have discovered—or rather, rediscovered—that these outdoor venues deserve our attention. My family has loved visiting drive-ins for years!
Drive-ins aren’t just perfect for date nights—these film experiences also offer families, especially those with small children, a lot of flexibility and a fun way to relax outdoors together. Read on to learn more about Central Indiana’s best drive-in theaters, what to expect when you visit, and what to bring to make your movie night a success for the whole family.
Central Indiana’s Top Drive-In Theaters
While outdoor theaters are definitely dwindling in number across the country, Indiana is actually a great place to access a drive-in. There are currently 20 drive-ins in Indiana, making it one of the top 5 states with the most drive-ins. Chances are you have one closer to home than you think!
480 South Tibbs Avenue, Indianapolis
Tibbs Drive-In is our family’s go-to due to its proximity to our house. It’s Indy’s only drive-in and worth the trip! During the summer, they show movies on four screens, Thursday-Monday.
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Starlite Drive-In Theatre
7640 S Old State Rd 37, Bloomington
This highly-rated seasonal drive-in offers tickets online and free retro movie nights! A Hoosier landmark, the Starlite box office has been in operation since 1955.
Melody Drive-In Theater
7055 US-35, Knox
This theater is perfect for those planning a road trip up to Northern Indiana this summer. Reviews rave about cleanliness, good concession food, and movie-themed art.
The Centerbrook Drive-In
6735 State Road 67 North, Martinsville
Open since 1950, this theater features an arcade, playground, and concessions. Films run Thursday-Sunday, as well as Tuesdays. This drive-in boasts a large grass field, so bring frisbees, footballs, and blankets.
3986 East Michigan Road, Shelbyville
Skyline Drive-In is open Thursday-Sunday. No outside food or drinks are allowed, but they have a lengthy concession menu with reasonable prices.
337 N. U.S. Highway 421, Versailles
This third generation establishment introduces viewers to family recipes in addition to new movies. Reviews cite cleanliness and friendliness as reasons to return again and again. Weigh in on their upcoming film selections on their Facebook page.
Canary Creek Cinemas
870 Mallory Parkway, Franklin
This Franklin indoor movie theater complex also boasts a drive-in site, attracting patrons rain or shine. Movie nights under the stars take place at the complex’s south parking lot on Fridays and Saturdays. All children 15 years old and under must be accompanied by an adult.
2037 State Road 67, Spencer
Take in a double feature at this drive-in located 5 miles north of Spencer. Cinema 67’s extensive concessions menu features everything from Polish to Mexican fare. Visa and Mastercard are now accepted, and pets are welcome!
8200 State Road 64, Georgetown
Between two screens and a playground, there’s something for everyone at Georgetown Drive-In. Sign up for their e-mail newsletter to stay on top of their weekly movie and special event schedule. Wheel chucks are required for manual/stick-shift vehicles.
Holiday Drive-In Theatre
1055 State Road 37, Mitchell
Arrive early to access the best parking and beat the lines at the Holiday Drive-In Theatre in Mitchell. Take advantage of meal combos and half-price drink refills at intermission. Rental radios and outside food/beverage permits are available at the concession stand.
What to Expect at a Drive-In
Ticket pricing at drive-in theaters is usually very affordable in comparison to traditional movie theaters—most charge $10 or less for adults and $5 or less for children. Some even offer free admission to toddlers and babies. Be sure to verify if your theater accepts credit cards, as some still only accept cash! Pricing usually includes a double feature if you can stay up that late to grab the second show.
Movies begin right at dark, which is no earlier than 9 pm in the summer. You’ll want to arrive with plenty of time to get a good spot. We think 45 minutes is sufficient to get to your spot and settle in. When you arrive, you are given a radio channel to tune in to. You can roll down the windows and adjust the volume to your needs.
Plan ahead for your seating arrangement for the show. You will see plenty of lawn chairs, blankets, and trunks open with kids enjoying themselves inside. We’ve seen car seats used as a comfy spot for children, as well as Pack ‘n’ Plays for containing smaller toddlers. Although not entirely effortless, what makes this experience so smooth is the ability to get creative.
All of the drive-ins on this list offer concessions and bathrooms. Where allowed, it’s super easy and convenient to bring your own snacks and a small cooler for drinks. This allows everyone to have their favorites. We pop popcorn at home and swing by the store for our own candy. However, keep in mind that many of the drive-ins survive because of concession stand sales. Consider stopping by to see what unique eats they have to offer.
Packing for Success
Be sure to bring bug spray and appropriate shoes as there are usually gravel and rocks. Stash some bags for trash and the inevitable spilled popcorn. The drive-ins don’t allow sparklers or other fireworks, but glow sticks or bubbles would help pass the time until the show starts! Dogs on leashes are welcomed at most drive-ins, so be sure to pack your pup’s favorite items.
We have a lot of great movies coming out this summer and you may be surprised to learn that drive-ins show the same new films as the indoor theaters. For summer 2023, make plans to see
- Lightyear (June 17)
- Minions: The Rise of Gru (July 1)
- Paws Of Fury: The Legend Of Hank (July 15)
- DC League Of Super-Pets (July 29).
We hope this guide has been helpful in planning your first or return trip to the drive-in. It’s a timeless summer tradition the whole family will love.
Summer in Indianapolis also brings a packed schedule of free or cheap movies at local parks and indoor theaters!