Drive In to a Drive In: Nashville's Vintage Screens are Alive and Kicking

The Macon Drive-In in Lafayette, Tennessee.

I think we can all agree that Nashville is quite a cosmopolitan town, replete with all the events and activities that befit a big city. We have our own symphony. We have our own professional sports teams. We have a whole bushel-ful of colleges and universities. We have art museums a-plenty. Well, I’m here to hearken back to an earlier time, a nostalgic time… Let’s talk about drive-in movie theaters!

One of the most attractive and beloved attributes of Nashville is its ability to retain its homespun feel while also providing the offerings of a large, cosmopolitan city. We have the best of both worlds! We have the Grand Ole’ Opry, and we have the Nashville Symphony. We have pot roast at Arnold’s Country Kitchen, and we have prime rib at Morton’s. We have the Antiques and Garden Show, and we have the Nolensville Tractor Pull. We are the headquarters of both Cracker Barrel and Nissan North America. And we love them all! As for our breadth of offerings in the entertainment world, we have the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, and we have drive-in movie theaters! Yes, you read it right. We have drive-in movie theaters, alive and well in Middle Tennessee!

For those of us who yearn for times gone by, the drive-in is the perfect place to relive fond memories. Even for those of us who may not have grown up during the heyday of drive-in movies in the ‘50s and ‘60s, the attraction of a vintage drive-in movie theatre still sounds enthralling! We here at Sports and Entertainment Nashville would like to inform you of the surprisingly numerous options for visiting a local drive-in movie theater nearby! Now, they are probably not smack dab in your back yard. But I’m betting that everyone in the greater Nashville area is less than an hour’s drive away from one or more drive-in movie theatres. Some of our most beloved small towns are still supporting their local drive-ins, and I think we in the “big city” need to come on out and join them! Watertown, Centerville, Lafayette, Lewisburg, and Camden all have drive-in movie theatres that are open and thriving!

The Stardust Drive-In Theater in Watertown, Tennessee

First on the list is the Stardust Drive-in Theatre in Watertown, Tennessee. It’s a drive-in with a unique history in that it is actually a relatively new facility! Most of our drive-ins around town are still holding on from the doo-wop era of the 1950s and ‘60s, but the Stardust Drive-in Theatre was designed and built in this millennium. They opened their doors in 2003, and you may even have seen them featured on an episode of Tennessee Crossroads. They have two screens that each feature two movies per night, so when you buy your ticket, you’re actually getting two movies for the price of one! Head on down to Watertown in Wilson County, and you can experience a drive in fit for a king!

Switching gears, let’s now learn about one of the oldest continuously-operating drive-ins in Tennessee. The Macon Drive-in is the second oldest drive-in in the state! It has been operating for more than half a century, and you can find it in the quaint town of Lafayette, Tennessee in Macon County, just northeast of Nashville. It has one enormous, 70-foot screen, and they play the classic double-feature style that is so synonymous with drive-ins. Two movies for the price of one!

Pink Cadillac Drive-In in Centreville, Tennessee

The Pink Cadillac Drive-In in Centreville, Tennessee.

Not to be missed is the Pink Cadillac Drive-In, replete with pink signs and pink supports for the giant movie screen. This gem of a drive-in can be found in Centerville, Tennessee, the county seat of Hickman County. The Pink Cadillac is one of the drive-ins where you just might expect to see Elvis drive up in his own pink Cadillac, with the true feel of a vintage drive-in. You almost half expect to hear the rustle of poodle skirts and see teenage boys with their shiny shoes and white tshirts!

Yet another vintage-era drive-in can be found in Lewisburg, Tennessee in Marshall County. The Hi-way 50 Drive In Theater has even been featured on a 2010 episode of CBS Sunday Morning, when owner Gary Douglas was the subject of an exquisite watercolor by acclaimed painter, Mary Whyte. This drive-in theater can quite possibly claim that it is the oldest drive-in in the area, if not the state! The Hi-way 50 Drive In Theater was built in 1946, and it is yet another vintage drive-in with all the feel of a classic drive-in.

While our record-breaking hot summer is drawing to a close, we here at Sports & Entertainment Nashville encourage you to visit one of these classic drive-in theaters. It is certainly a venue not to be missed. They are family-friendly, cost-effective, and enjoyable places to go. There are not very many attractions left today that have made such an impact on our society for generations. Children, parents, and even grandparents today will all enjoy a trip to a drive-in. Join us in supporting our local drive-ins! We will see you at the movies!