365 Things to Do in Memphis #282: See a Movie at the Summer Drive-In

Posted by Holly Whitfield | July 29th 2013 3300 23

Updated April 2017

There are few things more summery, nostalgic and wholesome than parking your car at a drive-in movie theater on a warm July night. Luckily, you can do that in Memphis.

Assignment #282 in the 365 Things to Do in Memphis is to see a movie at the Summer Drive-In.

The Summer Drive-in, which opened in 1966, is one of the last operational drive-in theatres in the country. I finally grabbed and friend and checked it out for the first time over the weekend.

All of the drive-in movies are listed to start at the same time (8:30 p.m.), so we showed up around 8:15 p.m. In retrospect, we should have gotten there closer to 7:45 p.m., because the line to get in was crazy, and we made the mistake of trying to turn left into the drive-in from Summer Ave.

As we waited in line, we tried to figure out what movie we wanted to see. All of the screenings are double features, so you get two movies (usually, the big blockbuster kind) for the price of one. If you can’t make your mind up about what movie you want to see, just pick a number. After you buy a ticket, you pick the lane for whatever screen you’d like.

We parked the car, opened the back hatch, and listened to the old school country music playing on the movie’s FM station while we waited for the movie to start. Around us, people were sitting in lawn chairs around citronella candles (a great idea) and kids were climbing atop cars to get a better view. Though the movies are supposed to start at 8:30 p.m., it seemed like they ran on their own lazy summer schedule, starting closer to 9:15.

I had packed a bunch of homemade burritos to eat during the movie, but if you’re not into making a picnic, there’s a decent concession stand that, in addition to the usual movie snacks, sells Pronto Pups.

The Summer Drive-in is open seven nights per week during the summers. All of the screenings are double features and admission is $7.50 per adult. Kids ages 10 and under get in free. You can bring your own snacks, lawn chairs and blankets. I also recommend that you pack a set of jumper cables. To hear the movies, you tune your car radio to one of the theatre’s FM stations, which could possibly kill your car battery if you stay for the second movie.

Go there:

Malco Summer Drive-In

5310 Summer Avenue
Memphis , TN 38122
(901) 767-4320


Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

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  1. Will says:

    Going to the Summer Drive-In might be my fondest memory of growing up in summertime Memphis. Two summers ago, friends and I would go on average 3 nights a week. There was a period last summer where some of us could boast (and/or admit with a head half-hung in shame) that we'd seen Ted 8 different times at the drive-in (go ahead and ask me about the Flash Gordon scene, I dare you). While I'm not especially a fan of Malco's semi-monopoly on Memphis' multiplexes, the drive-in is an absolute treasure, and it certainly counterbalances the $5 it costs for an EMPTY CUP TO BE FILLED WITH TAP WATER at other Malco locations. Absolutely make a trip as soon as possible, especially with so many good summer flicks out this year.

  2. Christine says:

    We love the drive-in!  It was one of our first "finds" when we moved here last year!  Just bring bug spray!  The Mosquitos are thick here. The family value is great and one screen has family movies all summer long. 

  3. steven kirtley says:

    i go all the time to this great place loads of fun . great movies good for all ill keep going until its closed down if its ever closed i pray not !!!! Keeper!!!!

  4. Keith Hogue says:

    I just read your information on the summer avenue drive in Memphis tn It brings back great memories for me I was born and raised in Memphis Tn and my parents would take us kids to the drive in at times. Now my wife and kids and I go when we can. One of life’s simple pleasures and so rare these days. Thanks for letting us know what’s going on take care and God Bless you

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