Vintage drive in theater in the desert.

The best part about Florida is that it is pretty much an endless summer which makes it the perfect place to grab your date or family and watch a movie at one of the last remaining drive-in theaters near Tampa. Drive-in theaters bring back the simpler times of the past and give us the opportunity to experience one of the favorite American pastimes. 

Way back when in 1938 came the first ever drive-in theater to the state of Florida. Fast forward about 90 years, and Florida is one of the states with the last remaining drive-in theaters. This truly unique experience boomed in the ‘50s and ‘60s, but after the birth of the VCR and at home movies, we saw the rapid decline of American drive-ins. 

Florida has some of the best year round weather in the country and this is a leading factor as to why there are still 8 remaining drive-in theaters in Florida. Not only does Florida have some of most operational drive-in theaters, but there are more proposed drive-in projects in the works!

What Made Drive-in Theaters So Special?

Well, drive-in theaters were originally made to play family friendly movies where families could enjoy the movies from the comfort of their cars, no matter how loud their children were. They were designed to give families the experience of a theater without worrying about noise or distractions since you were in your own vehicle. 

Why Did Drive-in Theaters Start Closing Up Shop?

There are many reasons why beloved drive-in theaters across the country began to cut out the lights. Many blame it on the gas prices of the 70s and the rise of at home movies. Families started squishing into smaller vehicles making it easier to just stay home and watch from the comfort of their couch.

Luckily for us, there are still 8 drive-in movie theaters in Florida that we can enjoy anytime of the year! Here is our list of 4 drive-in theaters near Tampa.

  • Joy Lan Drive-In

    Joy Lan Drive-in played its first movie in 1950. It is located in Dade City, smack dab in the middle of Orlando and Tampa. It has room for about 300 cars and plays movies 7 nights a week. They mainly broadcast the audio through the FM radio, but do have some traditional drive-in speakers as well.

  • Ruskin Drive-in Theater

    Located in Ruskin, they call themselves “The Last Family Drive-in” and have been operational since 1952. Open throughout the year and remain family oriented by not showing any R rated films and alcohol is not permitted. Paying homage to the traditional ways of drive-in theaters, they only accept cash and offer very reasonable prices at just $7 for adults and $2 for kids!

  • Silver Moon Drive-in Theater & Swap Shop

    The Silver Moon Drive-in is located in Lakeland and is a twin screen theater. It has been operational since 1958 and uses the FM radio to broadcast, although they have some original speaker poles if you want the full experience.  You better get there early on the weekends or you will be turned away once they fill up! Admission is only $7 for adults and $3 for kids.

  • Ocala Drive-in

    Originally opening up in 1948, the Ocala Drive-in has gone through various owners and as of recent as 2011 they re-opened with renovations. The Ocala Drive-in is a 2 screen theater with lower prices than most at $6 for adults and $3 for kids. They do not allow outside food or drink so bring cash to help support the theater! They broadcast through FM radio and no alcohol is allowed on the premises.

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