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Stephens City Drive In
One simple request at the family drive-in in Stephens City. This theatre uses lighted row markers.
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The Hiland Drive-In. It's in Rural Retreat, and is all done in silver.
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The Moonlight Theatre
The Moonlight Theatre
Fifty years of community memories, as filtered through Hollywood Technicolor, block-iron speakers and tasty corn dogs from the snack bar – yes, let’s take the Virginia Drive-in Tour on beyond The Hull in Lexington.
• When visiting the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, save some time for the town’s other, more earthy entertainment treasure, the Moonlite Drive-In. Built in 1949 and the oldest survivor in the state, the venerable cinema was recently profiled in USA TODAY.
“The Moonlite’s classic screen tower with neon sits atop a hill with a winding driveway up to it,” recounts Jennifer Sherer of www.drive-ins.com, who has visited all of Virginia’s surviving theatres. “The bright silver metal siding on this tower really catches your eye.” The Moonlite also has a lot of elbow room – boasting space for more than 450 cars. (17555 Lee Hwy., Abingdon, 276/628-7881)
• The Hiland Drive-In in Rural Retreat, opened in 1952, sits atop a hill like The Moonlite and, as Sherer notes, “is all done in silver.” The screen tower has an apartment built into it, also similar to the Moonlite. Check out the Hiland’s snazzy combination ticket booth and snack bar. (7164 W. Lee Hwy., Rural Retreat, 276/686-5661)
• The homey Starlite Drive-In in Christiansburg, constructed in 1953, is a comfortable and cozy place for dashboard viewing. The theater boasts a ring of trees around the screen that blocks off outside light. (2265 Roanoke St., Christiansburg, 540/382-2202, www.starlitedrivein.biz)
• “The Family Drive-In in Stephens City uses lighted row markers that help you locate a particular row in the dark,” says Sherer. “Row markers were much more common in the drive-in’s heyday. Today they add a bit of nostalgia along with the in-car speakers.” The Family, built in 1956 and situated 10 miles from Winchester, boasts two screens. The second was added in 1988. (Valley Pike, U.S. 11, Stephens City, 540/665-6982)
• The Central Drive-In in Norton was built in 1952 and is surrounded by the Jefferson National Forest. Perfect for a Werewolf flick or the umpteenth return of Jason, the Central’s lot has space for more than 300 cars. (5111 Kent Junction Road, Norton, 276/679-3761)
• The smallest drive-in in Virginia, the Fork Union in Fork Union, built in 1953, features spots for fewer than 200 cars. Perhaps because of its size, the cozy lot also boasts a $7.50 admission price, more worthy of a cineplex visit. (Winnsville Drive, Fork Union, 434/842-3624)
• The brand new Park Drive-In and Fun Place in Marion boasts a miniature golf course and a children’s area. It also shows features on weeknights during summer months. “The Park is impressive in several ways,” says Sherer. “The grounds are spotless and all the buildings coordinated in their style (rustic wood siding and dark green trim). You can tell the owners take pride in presentation – a great place to bring the family.” (301 Park Blvd, Marion, 276/781-2222)