Here it is, as promised:

Crystal’s guide to a successful drive-in!

me at the drive in

1. Clean your car. Mostly I mean clean the windshield but if your car is filled with random junk like mine is, now is a good time to get rid of it. You’ll need all the space (and cup holders) you can get. If you prefer to sit outside your car, bring a comfy chair.

drive in screen from back seat

2. Dress appropriately. Since you’ll be outside (or in the car), at night, the temperature fluctuations can catch you off guard. I like to bring a blanket and a sweater. Also, dress comfortably since you’ll be sitting for a long time in a cramped space. I prefer to wear pajamas…don’t be shy, everyone else wears theirs. I also prefer to wear sandals so I can take my shoes off. But not sandals that make my feet stink because that would be bad.

3. Bring excellent snacks and beverages. Seriously, one of the best things about the drive-in is that you can take in anything you want (except alcohol, which makes sense). Pack a cooler with water or pop or juice or whatever you want. If you’re a meal sort of person, you could pick up a pizza on your way or fast food or take-out. If you’re more of a picnic person, bring cold foods in travel containers. Or bread and cheese, or fruit.

ian made bread for the drive in

If you’re a snack food junkie like me, you might be interested in reading my snackfood guidelines. First, there are the taste categories: salty, fruity and chocolaty. Next are the texture categories: crispy, gummy, chewy. If you make sure to have all of the above in any combination, you’ll satisfy every craving. For example, for this trip we had taco chips (salty/crispy), gummi bears (fruity/gummy), 100 Grand Fun Size candy bars (chocolaty/chewy), KitKat bars (chocolaty/crispy), Swedish fish (fruity/chewy) and cookies (chocolaty/crispy). I could have used another salty snack to balance it out…maybe something cheese flavored, but all in all, it was quite a successful array of goodies. We only ate a little bit of everything and most of it will go into the drive-in bag for next time. Also in the drive-in bag: paper towels and utensils if necessary.

Crystal’s guide to drive-in etiquette:

1. Many people like to park their minivans/station wagons/SUV’s backwards and open the hatch to sit inside the back. This is fine. However, if you do this, please arrive early to set up your spot, making sure you don’t park directly in front of someone else. Put up your hatch right away so some unsuspecting person doesn’t park behind you, only to have their view blocked by your hatch the moment the movie starts. This rule is also important if you or your kids will be sitting on the roof of the vehicle. Climb up right away so people know you’ll be up there during the movie.

If you get to the drive-in on the late side, park behind people, not in front of them. They were there first and they don’t want your stupid big van or hatch in their way when you decide to show up right before the movie starts. This is my biggest drive-in pet peeve.

2. Turn off your engine. I don’t care if your battery’s bad or your car has trouble starting, I don’t want to smell your exhaust all night. (This is a real rule at our drive-in, not just me being crabby.) If your battery won’t make it through 4 hours then don’t go to the drive-in. *edit* An open eye suggests a portable radio to fix this problem.*

3. Keep your headlights off. I have no idea why this is such a problem for people just sitting in their cars but apparently it is. Keep your hand off the switch or whatever you have to do. Also, keep your foot off the brake. I’ve stared at my share of flashing red brake lights and it’s annoying. And if you’re driving, use your parking lights until you’re clear of the main parking area. (Also a real drive-in rule.) Also, drive slowly because there are people walking around in the dark.

4. If you’re going to engage in, ahem, adult behaviors, maybe you could wait until it’s actually dark out and there aren’t kids running around right outside your car? Or maybe you could park near the back or to the side or the lot or at least not right next to a car full of people?

5. On the other hand, don’t stare into other people’s cars. It’s rude and, well, you get what you deserve.

our car neighbors

These guys were laughing at us for taking pictures in our car. I waved at them and they stopped. If they had been minding their own business, they wouldn’t have ended up on my blog for everyone to know their etiquette faux pas.

6. Most importantly: be considerate of other people. I realize that the drive-in gives you more freedom than a movie theater. On the other hand, you’re not alone in your house. Sometimes people don’t want your cigarette smoke wafting from your car into theirs. Sometimes people don’t want to hear your loud conversations during the movie. So just be considerate, ok? I know you don’t have to but you should anyway.

And that’s it! Hopefully I didn’t sound like a jerk but I’m serious about drive-in etiquette. Almost as serious as I am about drive-in snacks. So, you know, I’m very serious.

What are your favorite drive-in tips or rules of etiquette?


  1. I like all of your rules, but I am especially keen to follow your snack rules: First, there are the taste categories: salty, fruity and chocolaty. Next are the texture categories: crispy, gummy, chewy. Sadly, we usually buy food from the concession and never think to bring out own stuff. (duh!)

  2. The concession stand food is so expensive! Sometimes we'll buy popcorn but we always pack a cooler and bring snacks. Try it, it's fun!

  3. Wouldn't it be easier to bring a portable radio and not rely on the car batteries?
    Apparently there's a drive-up near me ... awesome! I was just complaining about not having one around :)

  4. Yes, you're right, if the car battery won't last that long, a portable radio would definitely work.

    Are you going to check out your drive-in? If you do, I expect a full report! Oops, and I also owe you an email...I'm on that right now! :)

  5. I have never been to a drive-in, despite growing up in a small town that probably had a few of them. Now that we live in a small-ish town and not L.A., I really want to try to find a drive-in this summer.

    Also, absolutely hilarious that you outed those jerks on your blog. They totally deserved it for being rude. And here's where I get judgmental: you can tell they're total chodes just by their car. Heh.

  6. Oh no! I just laughed out loud at the last part! I hope no one noticed...

    And yes, I thought the same thing, because I'm judgmental like that too. ;) You know they were all there because they have a man-crush on Vin Diesel (we saw Fast and Furious but any movie is tolerable at the drive-in).

    You really should find a drive-in near you. It's so much fun!


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