Looking for something different, maybe even something a little old school? Here's a great activity that's perfect for a date night – it's private, socially distant, comfortable, a throwback to a more simple time of life. Visiting a drive-in movie theater could be just the thing to for you!
Believe it or not, there are quite a few drive-ins located in and around Tampa for a night of nostalgic fun. You can watch from the car or set up chairs, but either way, it’ll be an experience to remember. Plus, you'll be contributing to keeping the drive-in movie theater experience alive and well here in Florida. Some drive in theaters allow you to bring your own food and drinks, other drive in theaters “prohibit” it (but let's be realistic – nobody is searching your car, so be smart about it!).
Silver Moon Drive-In Theater
4100 New Tampa Hwy Lakeland, FL 33815
At Lakeland's Silver Moon Drive-In Theater, take your pick from two screens featuring a nightly double feature of different first run movies. The concession area is stocked with affordably-priced drinks (including beer!), popcorn and other snacks. On a chilly night, you can even get hot cocoa. Similar to the Funlan Drive In, the Silver Moon also hosts a weekly swap shop during the day on Saturdays and Sundays. If you want to enjoy dinner before the show, head out early to visit Lakeland's cool food hall, The Joinery. It's about a 15-minute drive from the theater.
Admission is $6 per adult ($2 per kiddo) and includes both movies.
Ruskin Family Drive-In Movie Theater
5011 US Highway 41 North Ruskin, FL 33572
South of Tampa you'll find the Ruskin Family Drive-In Movie Theater, which has been around since the hey-day of drive-in theaters in the '50s. Admission grants you access to watch both drive in movies featured nightly on the drive in movie theater's single screen. Snacks, drinks and popcorn (only $5 for a large) are available for purchase at the onsite snack bar. There's a $5 fee per car if you opt to bring in your own food and drinks (no alcohol allowed). Sure you could sneak stuff in, but come on, it's just $5, help a drive in theater out!
If you're looking to do date night with the kids in tow, this family-friendly drive in movie theater is your best bet. Admission is cheap and there's even a play area for the kids. You can even bring the family dog; friendly pups on leashes are welcome to join in the drive-in movie experience.
Admission is $6 per person, $1 for kids 5-8 years old and free for kids under 4. Payment is cash only. Check out their Facebook page for updates, too!
Joy-Lan Drive-In Movie Theater
16414 U.S. 301 Dade City, FL 33523
Since 1950, the Joy-Lan Drive-In Movie Theater has been providing a prime movie experience. At this Tampa Bay area drive-in theater, you can enjoy back-to-back flicks Wednesday-Sunday on the largest digital screen in Pasco County, just north of Tampa Bay. Joy-Lan is also the last remaining drive-in movie theater in the county, so keep the drive-in movie experience alive by paying it a visit. A concession stand serves up snacks including popcorn, hot dogs, pizza, soft drinks and more for nominal fees. Plan to arrive 30 minutes before showtime to snag a good spot.
Admission is $6 per adult and $2 per kid.
Ocala Drive-In Theater
4850 S Pine Ave, Ocala, FL 34480
If you're looking to visit multiple drive-ins movie theaters throughout the state, make the 1.5-hour trip north to Ocala Drive-In. Choose from nightly double features on two separate screens. FYI: bringing outside food is not permitted at this drive in theater so hit the concession stand if you're hungry. Well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome here, too.
Admission is $6 per adult and $3 for kids (free for kiddos 5 and under).
Tips for a Drive-In Movie Theater Date
- Bring blankets and pillows from home for an extra comfy movie-watching snuggle session. This is especially fun on a chilly night! Most theaters, like Rooftop Cinema Club, allow you to watch from the bed of a truck or back of an SUV.
- Turn your car back on in between movies if you're worried about your battery running low. Most theaters have jumper cables in the event your battery dies.
- Snack bar sales largely keep drive-in movie theaters in operation, so spring for the popcorn and support the theater if you can.
- Always arrive early (30-45 minutes before showtime) to stake out your spot! Trust us, you'll want time to get situated, set up your car or chairs, and visit the concessions for essentials like popcorn and sodas.
- For drive in movie theaters with multiple screens, you must choose one screen and stick to it. You won't be permitted to move about from one screen to the other.
- Newer offerings, like Rooftop Cinema Club in south Tampa, offer totally contactless ticket ordering and food ordering options.
Looking for other outdoor activities? Check out 25 Outdoor Activities to Try Together Before Summer and Outdoor Dining Guide: 50+ Places to Eat Outside in Tampa Bay.