Historic Drive-In Restaurants and Drive-In Theaters Live On




New generations of Americans can breathe in the nostalgia of the American road trip experience that bloomed exponentially after WWII. The Drive-In restaurants and movie theaters gave big wind to family entertainment and teenage make out sessions that lasted for decades in the 20th century. 

By the 1970s, a new brand of entertainment took hold in the US, and many of these historic icons of Americana began to fade away. But it revived itself this century. Some drive-in restaurants never closed, and others opened up to fill a void. Sonic built its brand on this vision. Drive-In movie theaters took a huge dive at the same time and were abandoned. 

But that old timey, simple entertainment when families could take their kids to the drive-in movie, let them play in the playground, and run around like wild animals never died. It is hard going these days for many of the drive-in movie theaters to stay profitable, but the owners of these drive-ins believe in their value, and many have added a new high-tech wave of entertainment value that keeps this Americana spirit alive.  

Here is a list of drive-in restaurants and movie theaters you can visit today across Texas and Oklahoma.


Texas Drive-In Restaurants

Keller’s

Dallas, near Lake Ray Hubbard & Lake Lavon

People say the best hamburger in Texas can be found at Keller's. Keller’s is the oldest restaurant of its kind in Dallas, drawing in locals and travelers alike with its mouth watering No.5 Special: two patties with cheese, shredded lettuce, tomato, and special dressing all on a poppy seed bun. This recipe hasn't changed in over 50 years because there's no need to alter it. Friday nights are alive with burgerholics, classic car owners, and motorcyclists filling the parking lot to chow down. 

6537 E NW Hwy, Dallas, TX 75231.

Watson’s Drive-In

Denison, near Lake Texoma

Watson's was originally part of the Watsonburger chain established in the 1950s. This drive-in is the oldest in Denison and the only location still offering carhop service. All those classic cars who drive to Watson’s are a sight to see and reason enough to pay it a visit. Watson’s claims to be the oldest restaurant still in business in Grayson County. Warson’s makes everything fresh to order with fresh meat for their hamburgers, hand cut fries, and homemade onion rings.

631 W Main St, Denison, TX 75020.

Mr. Frosty

Denton, near Lake Ray Roberts and Lake Lewisville

Mr. Frosty opened in 1954 as Frosty Drive N. Its name changed to Mr. Frosty in 2010. Enjoy burgers, fries, milkshake, and homemade root beer in an atmosphere that will take you right back to an era long gone. Homemade root beer, chocolate malts and broiler burgers are the staple cuisine. Take a trip back to the era of sock hops. Broiler burgers, the main course at Mr. Frosty, are custom made and can be topped with a special mayonnaise sauce. All broiler burgers come with two juicy patties full of flavor. The bun is toasted and smothered in mustard, ketchup or whatever condiment is preferred. A regular-size chocolate shake at Frosty is like a large anywhere else. 

1002 Fort Worth Dr, Denton, TX 76205.

Mary Ann’s Pig Stand 

San Antonio

Take a drive into Mary Ann’s Pig Stand in Old San Antone. Everyone should experience their iconic country-fried steak sandwich and scrumptious onion rings at least once. Pig Stands in Texas opened up in 1921. I ate at them in Dallas when I was a kid in the 1960s. Mary Ann’s Pig Stand is the last Pig Stand standing in Texas. Mary Ann’s Pig Sandwich has been the menu’s signature item for a century.

1508 Broadway St, San Antonio, TX 

Bun 'n' Barrel 

San Antonio

This legendary eatery has been serving up BBQ, burgers, milkshakes, and American diner fare since 1950. Bun N Barrel has been proudly dishing out our fine barbeque and burgers since 1950. Bun N Barrel boasts of a long tradition for serving up burgers and Texas style barbecue. It is a hangout for classic cars enthusiasts. It is a full-service  and catering service restaurant. Guy Fieri featured this historical drive-in restaurant on his Food Network Show. 

1150 Austin Hwy, San Antonio, TX 

Health Camp

Waco, near Lake Waco 

Health Camp opened its doors in 1949. Neon signage combined with out-of-this-world burgers, hot dogs, shakes, and frozen custard makes this historic drive-in an obligatory roadside stop. Way back in 1948, just three years after World War II, a young Jack Schaevitz built a mobile canteen to serve ice cream and burgers to military personnel at the Connally Air Force Base in Waco, Texas. Jack's cart was such a hit that a year later in 1949, he opened the Health Camp located on the Waco Traffic Circle. His restaurant continues today offering the finest frozen custard, ice cream, and burgers. J. David Tinsley owns and operates Health Camp today.

2601 Circle Rd, Waco, TX 


Oklahoma Drive-In Restaurants

Baldwin's Restaurant and Drive-In 

Ardmore, near Lake Murray

Stan and Carol Ann Baldwin opened Baldwin’s in 1976. Since then, Baldwin’s has served the best ever home-cooked meals all those years. Baldwin's Restaurant is known for its delicious chicken fried steak, and during the noon hour, their plate lunches and two vegetables are the best in town. Baldwin's is home to the original famous "Super Dog" served in Ardmore for years. The super dog’s batter is a special recipe, freshly battered and fried to perfection. Baldwin's serves several types of burgers, sandwiches, fries, and homemade onion rings. People love Baldwin’s homemade pies, that usually sell out by the end of the day. 

513 S Washington St, Ardmore, OK

Wright’s Drive-In 

Durant, near Lake Texoma

Wright's Drive-In is a family-owned restaurant that has been in business in Durant for decades. Owner Courtney Burnett says "There's just really a lot of family and history here that they wanted to highlight," when speaking of her Throwback Thursday event that she began in 2017 where people park their classic cars outside the restaurant. 

The story goes that this restaurant originally opened in 1946 as Emery's Drive-In, and it has been a staple in Durant ever since then. Years later, the Wright family bought the drive-in. Wright’s serves good old-fashioned, greasy, yummy food like their signature chicken fried steak sandwich, classic double meat cheeseburgers, chili bowls, and shakes and sundaes.

319 S 9th Ave., Durant, OK


Texas Drive-In Movie Theaters

Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In

Austin, near Lake Travis

The Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In is contemporary and opened in 2009. This is not a traditional drive-In as most people know them—no not at all! A guy in Austin, Texas,  Josh Frank, bought drive-In movie theater speakers on Ebay, taught himself how to restore them, and opened the first ever Mini Urban Drive-In with the theory that smaller is better. 

The Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In bills itself as a “Boutique Theater”. The Blue Starlite concentrates on indie films, art house, cult, Gen X/Y, childhood favorites, and drive-In classic genres. But typical of Austin, this Drive-In movie experience is not cheap, and it is exclusive. Ticket packages start at $25-$35 for a car slot for two or the car slot for two with concession. You tune in through your FM radio to watch the movies. No hiding in the trunk like those crazy kids did in the 1950s!

2103 E M. Franklin Ave, Austin, TX 

Galaxy Drive-In 

Ennis-Garrett, near Bardwell Lake

Construction for Galaxy Drive-In began in 2003 and opened on December 17, 2004 with three screens. They eventually expanded to seven screens and from one snack bar to two and converted from film to all digital. Galaxy Drive-In is open four days a week. Galaxy shows digital movies and digital 3D movies on screens four and five, four days a week. 

An attendant will hand out the number of 3D glasses specified on your ticket. You pay a deposit on the 3D glasses. When you leave, you exit the same way you entered, and return all the 3D glasses to the attendant. 

Tickets are available only when you arrive at the box office. Weekends are packed, so get there as early as possible before show times. You are welcome to sit anywhere outside your vehicle, in lawn chairs or on blankets. Galaxy only asks that you place lawn chairs and blankets in front of your car, and not take up an additional parking space next to your car. 

The Galaxy Drive-In is located in Garrett, Texas, on Interstate 45, just north of Ennis at exit 255.

Coyote Drive-In

Fort Worth, near Lake Worth and Eagle Mountain Lake

Coyote Drive-In is a thoroughly modern drive-in theater with five screens offering special events for throwing a party with private screen packages. In 2021, Coyote Drive-In only offers single features. No outside food or drink is allowed, but it features a great concession stand and a wide variety of craft beers, domestic, and imported beers, along with red and white wines, plus champagne.

You are welcome to sit anywhere outside your vehicle, in lawn chairs or on blankets, but place lawn chairs in front of your car so that you do not take up additional parking space, and you cannot sit on top of your vehicle. Coyote Drive-In welcomes the furry members of your family. They must be kept on a leash while outside your vehicle, and please clean up after your pet!

223 NE 4th Street, Fort Worth, TX 

The Last Drive-In Picture Show

Gatesville, near Belton Lake, Stillhouse Hollow Lake

The Last Drive-in Picture Show is a twin-screen, drive-in theater in the middle of Texas and located about halfway between Dallas and Austin. The Last Drive-in Picture Show is one of the oldest drive-ins remaining in Texas. It opened in 1950, and was originally named the Circle Drive-In. It went through several name changes over the years but was renamed the Last Drive-in Picture Show in 1989. It is also a "MoPed" theater, where there is both a drive-in and walk-in cinema, which was added in 1972.

This drive-in is open year round, seven nights a week, except for Christmas Eve. It costs only $10 a carload at a great bargain. The same family has been running the drive-in for the last 40-plus years, and it does not show R-rated movies. It shows a double feature every night, and a matinee on Saturdays and Sundays. The Last Drive-In offers both indoor and outdoor screenings with drive-in audio delivered straight to your car via FM radio.

2912 South State Highway 36, Gatesville, TX

Brazos Drive-in Theatre

Granbury, near Lake Granbury

The Brazos Drive-in Theatre is a single screen drive-in theater located in Granbury, Texas. The Brazos Drive-In Theatre has been open every season since it first opened in 1952. It is open seasonally and depends on the weather, but typically it is open from March through November. At $20 a carload, this theater is an absolute bargain for their double features. It has a single screen and can park about 200 cars. Movie audio at the Brazos Drive-In is broadcast on FM radio. 

Jennifer Miller has owned and operated the Bravos Drive-in since 1986. Outside food is allowed, but discouraged. Jennifer gives a generous discount of $15 a carload for military, police, firefighters, teachers, students, doctors, nurses, and seniors 60+. The Brazos Drive-in Theatre also hosts private parties from March to November on Mondays through Thursdays. Jennifer’s love for old things, preservation, and offering a fun and unique experience for folks is why the Brazos has never turned into a big box store.

1800 W Pearl St, Granbury, TX


Oklahoma Drive-In Movie Theaters

Tower Drive-In Theatre

Poteau, near Robert S. Kerr Reservoir

The small-town digital drive-In shows double features on Fridays and Saturdays during spring through fall, and it is closed in winter months. The Tower Drive-In Theatre holds a lottery with chances to win tickets every week on Facebook. The Tower also shows single feature movies. FM radio provides the audio. Their capacity is 300 cars. The owners also own a three-screen indoor theater, the Poteau Theatre, and tickets purchased for either theater can be used at both theaters. 

2214 N. Broadway,. Poteau, OK

Cool Breeze RV Park

Springer, near Lake Murray

The Cool Breeze RV Park opened a drive-In theater for its customers in 2018. It shows first-run movies on Friday and Saturday nights, except in the winter or in bad weather. People who want to attend the theater rent a space for the night instead of buying individual tickets. The cost is $15 for a rustic space for a tent or automobile or $40 for an RV space with hookups. A concession stand with popcorn, candy, nachos, hot dogs and more is available. Since this drive-In theater is part of the Cool Breeze RV Park, people can bring whatever outside food or drink they want. 

6677 U.S. 77, Springer, OK

The Admiral Twin

Tulsa, near Keystone Lake, Oohlogah Lake, Lake Skiatook

The Admiral Twin is Oklahoma's largest drive-In movie theater. The Admiral Twin celebrated its 70th birthday in May 2021 with a special screening of the beloved Oklahoma-made movie "The Outsiders", which is based on Oklahoma author S.E. Hinton's iconic novel. Francis Ford Coppola filmed this 1983 movie in Tulsa with several scenes filmed at the Admiral Twin. 

The Admiral Twin burned down in 2010, including its two giant screens, and with help from fervent community support, it was quickly rebuilt. The Admiral Twin shows double features every night during its season, which is spring through fall, and tickets are sold online and onsite. This outdoor entertainment attraction advises moviegoers that If they are concerned that their car battery will run down, to please bring a battery powered, portable FM radio. All movie sound is fed through an FM transmitter.

Families and couples are thrilled to have this great place to entertain themselves, and yes, you can watch the movies from the bed of your pickup truck, just like yesteryear. You can even take a busload of people to this iconic theater. But please don’t bring your own food. The Admiral Twin’s lifeline is its concession stand sales. It also hosts musical concerts. 

7355 E Easton St., Tulsa, OK


Drive-Ins Will Not Die!

I enjoyed researching all of these great icons of Americana historical entertainment. Just the fact that these drive-ins are attracting so many visitors in this day and age is a testimony to a simpler time in the last century. Some of them are now high tech, and others are there to keep the spirit going. No one can argue with the fact that a great-tasting burger and a frothy milkshake at a drive-in restaurant is unhealthy. But a scrumptious treat now and again will not kill us!

The drive-in movie theaters also offer the absolutely best tasting and fattening food that America has to offer. But more than that, these establishments keep us tied to our American history throughout the 20th century as we built our US highways and byways and ventured out onto road trip adventures that we will never forget. They keep us grounded with entertainment and cuisine that cannot be denied as Americana. 




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