• Dan H.

The Year of the Drive-In

2020's biggest comeback is the forgotten drive-in.

Drive-In Theatre Sign

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Drive-ins became an American staple during the first half of the 20th century, reaching their peak during the 1950s. They further became idolized with throw-back films and TV shows like American Graffiti and Happy Days in the 1970s. After almost dying off, the COVID-19 pandemic (of all things) has come to save the day.

Drive-ins are a perfect fit for the unique time period we're living through. By being outdoors and having cars appropriately distanced, they offer one of the safest ways to socialize during these trying times.


Movie theatres across the country have been hurting. Many were closed completely during the first half of the year and most in larger cities continue to remain closed due to safety concerns. On top of that, many film studios have postponed dozens of major releases. However, the trusty drive-in theatre has been able to endure. By showing classic movies, along with indie films and select major studio releases, they've been able to keep business booming. October was especially strong with scary movies serving as the perfect double-feature for drive-ins.


It's not just movies, drive-in dining has been able to stay afloat during the pandemic. The famous Bob's Big Boy drive-in was one of the first restaurants to reopen in Los Angeles after the initial quarantine shut down. While many restaurants have adapted and offered outdoor dining or converted their parking lots into additional seating, drive-ins are able to offer the convenience of letting you remain in your own vehicle.

Pop-up experiences have added a new flair of luxury to drive-in dining. The Resy Drive-Thru in LA featured a 10-course tasting menu from some of the city's top chefs.


The live entertainment and touring industries have been some of the hardest hit during the pandemic. Thousands of bands typically tour during the summer months with festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza being huge draws for concertgoers. Leave it to the drive-in to step up once again! Live concerts and filmed concerts have been popping up throughout the country. Back in July, legendary country artist Garth Brooks beamed a live concert event to 300 drive-in theatres across the US, which sold 50,000 tickets in the first two hours alone. If you're eager to hear some live tunes, check out this list of drive-in concerts.

For a deeper dive into the drive-in renaissance, be sure to check out our podcast episode on entertainment and creativity in the parking industry.