Missouri’s Drive-In Theaters: Retro Road Trip Destinations

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As dusk falls over the Moberly Five and Drive, fireflies start their nightly show and cars file in and line up in rows. Families find their favorite viewing spot – a blanket spread out on the ground, the bed of a pickup, the back of an SUV. Kids gather for a quick game of catch in a grassy patch beneath the giant screen. Darkness descends, and the movie begins at this drive-in theater located in north-central Missouri.

The Drive-In Theater Experience

Drive-ins offer an experience like no other. Moviegoers can pack their favorite snacks (or make a trip to the concession stand) and get comfortable with a pillow or two while they enjoy a first-run feature or a classic film beneath a starry sky.

Outdoor movie theaters have dwindled since their heyday in the 1950s and 1960s – when more than 4,000 dotted the roadside nationwide. With just a few hundred remaining, many drive-ins have become road-trip destinations.

Missouri’s Drive-In Theaters

From metropolitan multiplexes to single screens nestled in the trees, a dozen Missouri drive-ins still light up the night all summer long.

Moberly Five and Drive, Moberly

Moberly’s original Hi Way 63 Drive-In operated from 1950 to 1983. A new building was constructed in 1997 to house five indoor movie screens as well as the projector for the outdoor screen, and the Moberly Five and Drive was born. The movie house is one of only a handful of indoor-outdoor theaters in the United States. 

66 Drive-In, Carthage

Nothing screams nostalgia like a drive-in on the Mother Road. Located on Old 66 Boulevard, the 66 Drive-In – with its original neon sign – is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The theater opened in 1949 and had a 34-year run before shutting down. It was renovated and reopened in 1998.

Starlite Drive-In, Cadet

With space for 700 cars, the Starlite Drive-In is Missouri’s largest drive-in outside a metro area. Located 50 miles south of St. Louis, the two-screen theater dates back to 1952.

Sunset Drive-In Theater, Aurora

The Sunset Drive-In Theatre, located 30 miles southwest of Springfield, has been in operation since 1951. It’s one of just a handful of outdoor movie theaters that allows you to fire up a small gas grill for a car-side barbecue. You can also order a pizza from the concession stand and have it delivered to your car.

The Twin, Independence

The Twin lives up to its name with movies on two screens. Located about 10 miles east of Kansas City, the theater opened in 1965 and is Missouri’s largest drive-in, with space for more than 1,400 cars.

Barco Drive-In, Lamar

The Barco Drive-In, the longest continuously running drive-in movie theater in Missouri, will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2024. The drive-in shows family-friendly double features.

Phoenix Theater & Drive-In, Houston

Originally named the Sunset Drive-In when it opened in 1951, the drive-in operated until 1998. With the addition of an inside screen, the Phoenix Theater & Drive-In reopened in 2001 as an indoor-outdoor theater.

Rock ‘N’ Roll Drive-In, Chaffee

Built in 1955, the old Montgomery Drive-In sat dark for nearly 30 years before being resurrected in 2020 as the Rock ‘N’ Roll Drive-in. The drive-in shows classic movies and new releases on the refurbished concrete movie screen.

Pine Hill Drive-In, Piedmont

Catch a movie in the countryside at the Pine Hill Drive-In. The old-school outdoor theater operated continuously from 1953 to 2015. The drive-in was renovated and reopened in 2022.

21 Drive-In, Van Buren

The 21 Drive-In originally opened in 1952. The single-screen drive-in has one of the largest screens in Missouri and a 600-car capacity. The theater hosts double features and retro films.

Twin Crescent Drive-In, Buffalo

One of the newest drive-in theaters in Missouri, the Twin Crescent Drive-In opened in 2022. The drive-in shows classic flicks.

Lakeside, Ashland

Lakeside Ashland offers a traditional drive-in experience as well as a large lawn for moviegoers to bring their chairs and blankets. See classic films and newer releases.


Most Missouri drive-ins are open spring through fall and close during the winter months. Be sure to check each theater’s website or social media sites for movie and showtime information.