Kentucky Drive-ins

Kentucky has always shined brightly among the American Drive-in states,
and there may be some foreshadowing of that, some poetic rationalization,
considering that it was here (Louisville) that Americans had witnessed the
first public display of electric light during the Southern Exposition in 1883.

 Paris, Kentucky

There are 120 counties within the Bluegrass State.  And, at the peak of
America's Drive-in boom, back in the 1950's there were almost precisely
that same number of Drive-ins flourishing within Kentucky.  Since their
heyday there has been a thinning of the Ozoner layer here as elsewhere ..

86% of all of those Drive-ins have gone dark or have been
demolished. And yet, Kentucky remains one of the top ten
Drive-in states, with 17 that still remain in operation.

Here are the most recent closings and all of Kentucky's
remaining Drive-ins which we can enjoy and support:

    Photo: Chris Rouser
 Bardstown, Kentucky

  • Bardstown (Nelson County) Kentucky
    Gypsy Drive-in Theatre:   DARK
    Built to last (in 1948), the formidable screen
    tower of the Gypsy Drive-in remains, although
    it hasn't been lit in over 15 years, having gone
    dark in 1985. Possibly-theoretically it could be
    revived, although there's no word on that yet.
    Word is:  that the site of this 400-car classic
    is presently being used as a storage yard.

 Beaver Dam, Kentucky

  • Beaver Dam (Ohio County) Kentucky
    Tri City Drive-in:  270-274-3168
    located on Highway 231 (south of town)

    The screen at this little Drive-in has remained lit
    since 1954. It is one of the state of Kentucky's
    coziest Drive-ins, with a capacity for around
    200 cars, with movie audio provided now by
    local radio broadcast in AM and FM. Open
    seasonally, March thru October.

  • Booneville (Owsley County) Kentucky
    Moonlite Drive-in:  606-593-5370
    located on Route 11 (1½mi south of town)

    The second-oldest of Kentucky's remaining Drive-ins;
    the Moonlite was built back in 1949. The original owner
    had kept the screen lit for 35 seasons before finally
    selling the old Ozoner. Interestingly, in 1995 it was
    bought back by the son of the original owner. File
    that one under: Bringing it on Home. The Moonlite
    shines on summer evenings - wknds only (Fri/Sat)
    wedged between traditional seasonal bookends
    of Memorial Day and Labor Day. The screen is lit
    with a single feature on Friday nite and a double
    feature on Saturday nite. They have a capacity for
    up to 200 cars and provide audio with traditional
    Dr'in speakers as well as FM radio (the projector
    here is the same one that's been in use since '49).
    Admission: adults $3.50 Fridays; $5 on Saturdays;
    children under the age of 12 are admitted free.

 Calvert City, Kentucky

  • Calvert City (Marshall County) Kentucky
    Calvert Drive-in:  270-395-4660
    located on Highway 95 (1mi south of Hwy 62)

    The Calvert opened during the early days of
    America's Drive-in boom, back in 1953, with
    a capacity for up to 270 cars. The traditional
    Drive-in speakers have been replaced with FM
    (88.3) radio broadcast for the movies' audio.
    They're open seasonally, April thru October.

 Corbin, Kentucky

  • Corbin (Whitley County) Kentucky
    Corbin Drive-in Theatre:  606-864-8170
    located at 1311 Cumberland Falls Hwy (18th St.)

    This single screen Drive-in has a capacity for
    just over 300 cars, screening double features;
    and frequently, first-run films just as they break.
    Open seasonally, April thru October. Admission:
    $3 for adults; $1.50 for children under age 12.

    photo: Larry Forshee
 Franklin, Kentucky 
 by Larry Forshee

  • Franklin (Simpson County) Kentucky
    Franklin Drive-in:  270-586-1905 / TollFree: 877-586-1905
    located at 6250 Nasville Rd - Highway 31 W.
    (3mi north of TN state line; exit 2 off I-65)

    Originally known as the 31-West Drive-in, this old
    single-screener is practically a Tennessee Drive-in,
    being only a short throw north of the TN state line
    (and less than an hour's drive north of Nashville).
    It is exceptionally well maintained and still keeps
    a couple rows with traditional Dr'in speakers up in
    front near the screen, altho audio is primarily FM.
    They're open seasonally, March-October; wknds in
    spring & fall; 7 nites during peak summer season.
    Admisson: $7 per carload covers all passengers.

  • Hardinsburg (Breckinridge County) Kentucky
    Irvington Drive-in:  270-756-2883
    located on Highway 60

    This old screen has been lit since 1957 for
    up to 450 cars. There are also still some of
    the traditional Dr'in speakers here, but audio
    is provided primarily by FM radio broadcast.
    They are screening double features and are
    open seasonally, April thru October.

    photo: Justin West
 Henderson, Kentucky 
 by Justin West

  • Henderson (Henderson County) Kentucky
    Starlite Drive-in:  502-827-5418
    located on Highway 60 East

    For anyone old enough to remember Drive-ins
    with playgrounds, this is the Drive-in as you
    remember it .. there's still a playground for
    the wee folk beneath the Starlite's original
    screen. Over time, there have been changes ..
    a second screen was added, and movie audio
    is delivered by FM radio now, although just as
    the playground lingers, some Dr'in speakers
    are still kept here for the nostlagically inclined.
    Reminisce seasonally, May thru September.

  • Jeremiah (Letcher County) Kentucky
    Route 7 Drive-in:  606-633-9728
    located on Highway 7

    The smallest  of Kentucky's remaining Drive-ins ...
    has a cozy capacity for about 80 cars (although, we
    have known them to squeeze-in as many as 100 cars--
    couple years ago, when the screen was lit with Titanic).
    This is eastern Kentucky mountain country  (way east;
    and, just about 20 miles west of the Virginia state line);
    meaning: they're open seasonally, and, weather-willing,
    they light their screen as early as the 2nd wknd in April,
    and will keep'er lit thru the last weekend of September;
    3 nites a week -Fri/Sat/Sun- weekends only.  Admission:
    only $5 per carload will cover any number of passengers.

    In a few words or less--    you file this one under:    M    for
    Minimalist ..  it's neat, but fairly basic, and just this side of
    rudimentary, without being rundown or ratty. And as such,
    it might just provide the inspiration for those who wonder
    what's the bare minimum it would take to start a Drive-in.

  • Lexington (Fayette County) Kentucky
    see:  Winchester, Kentucky

  • London (Laurel County) Kentucky
    London Drive-in:   DARK

 Louisville, Kentucky

  • Louisville (Jefferson County) Kentucky
    Kenwood Drive-in:  502-368-6454
    located at 7001 Southside Drive

    Single screen with a capacity for up to 500 cars;
    audio provided with FM (87.9) local radio broadcast.
    Screening double features, usually with an 'encore'
    repeat screening of the first movie on the schedule.
    Open seasonally, weekends only (Friday/Saturday).
    Admission: adults (12&up) $6; ages 11&under $2.50

  • Louisville (Jefferson County) Kentucky
    Preston Drive-in:  GONE
    formerly located on the Preston Highway

    photo: Steven Carroll
     Gone, but not forgotten .. 
 Louisville, Kentucky

  • Louisville (Jefferson County) Kentucky
    South Park Drive-in:  GONE
    formerly located on National Turnpike

  • Louisville (Jefferson County) Kentucky
    Valley Drive-in:  GONE
    formerly located on the Dixie Highway

  • Mayfield (Graves County) Kentucky
    Cardinal Drive-in:  270-247-4790    DARK
    located on Fulton Road (Hwy 45 South)

    This is a first by us: the Cardinal Drive-in is still there,
    and although it's been dark for a couple of years, it's
    still in the movie business - in a sense; as the former
    concession/projector building is now a video rental biz!

  • Mount Sterling (Montgomery County) Kentucky
    Judy Drive-in Theatre:  859-498-1960
    located at 4078 Maysville Road

    The Judy's single-screen was first lit-up way
    back in 1956. They have a capacity for up to
    300 cars; with movie audio provided by both
    AM radio and traditional Dr'in speakers. The
    Drive-in is open seasonally, April - October.

  • Paris (Bourbon County) Kentucky
    Bourbon Drive-in:  859-987-2935
    located on Jackstown Road at Highway 68

    The Bourbon has been owned and operated by
    the same family since it first opened-up in 1955.
    They screen double features on weekends only
    (Fri-Sat-Sun) with audio provided by FM (88.3)
    radio;  traditional speakers are available also.
    Admission: age 10&up $4.50; age 9&under free.

 Radcliff, Kentucky

  • Radcliff (Hardin County) Kentucky
    Knox Drive-in Theatre:  270-351-3831
    located at 514 West Vine Street

    2002 might be the last  season for this large
    and venerable single-screener which hosts
    more than 500 cars and dates back to 1954
    (it has been operated by the same family for
    nearly 20 years, but it appears unlikely that
    their lease on the property will be renewed).

  • Richmond (Madison County) Kentucky
    Buccaneer Drive-in:  DARK
    located at 2435 Lexington Road

    photo: James Miller
     27 TWIN DRIVE-IN 
 Somerset, Kentucky 
 by James Miller

  • Somerset (Pulaski County) Kentucky
    27 Twin Drive-in:  606-679-4738
    located on Highway 27 South

    The Highway 27 Drive-in Theatre came late
    to the party, having been constructed nearly
    a decade after the peak of the Drive-in boom,
    in 1967.  And feeling lucky - in their 13th year,
    the owners added a second screen, and both
    of their screens have remained lit-up, with a
    double feature on each, seasonally, April thru
    October. Admission: $4 adults; $1.50 children.

    * this is one of only 2 of America's Drive-ins
    which hosts an annual July fireworks display.

  • Stanford (Lincoln County) Kentucky
    Stanford Drive-in:  606-365-1317
    located at 1645 Hustonville Rd (Hwy 78)

    The second-smallest  of Kentucky's Drive-ins has
    a capacity for just 160 cars, and yet has managed
    to keep hanging-in there since 1952, and if anyone
    ever doubted that it could take a lickin and keep
    right on tickin .. that was settled back in April of
    1996 when a twister took the screen apart .. but,
    three months later the Stanford was up & running
    with a new 50' screen in place!  They remain open
    seasonally, April thru September. There is a FleaMkt
    here on weekends (Apr-Oct), Sat/Sun from 7am-4pm.

  • Stanton (Powell County) Kentucky
    Mountain View Drive-in:  606-663-9988
    located at 1327 East College Avenue

    Shows a single feature on each of its two
    screens; open seasonally, May - September.

  • Tompkinsville (Monroe) Kentucky
    Sky View Drive-in:  270-487-5359
    located at 1500 Celina Road (2mi south of town)

    The Sky View opened-up in 1953, with a capacity
    for up to 350 cars, and remains open seasonally,
    March thru October. Movie audio is primarily FM,
    but there are still some traditional speakers in use.
    Admission: adults (12&up) $5; ages 11&under free.
    Sunday: Classic Car Nite (pre-1970 cars get in free).

 Winchester, Kentucky

  • Winchester (Clark County) Kentucky
    Sky Vue Twin Drive-in Theatre:  859-744-6663
    located on Highway 60 South (10mi east of Lexington)

    The oldest of Kentucky's Drive-ins which still
    remain in operation was built back in 1945, with
    a capacity for nearly 400 cars. It has 2 screens
    (their second screen was added during 1991).
    The Sky Vue screens a pair of double features
    on wknds early in their season (March thru May);
    and is open 7 nites during peak summer season.
    Movie audio is provided with FM radio, and with
    a number of traditional Drive-in speakers being
    still in use in some of the rows which front their
    oldest/largest screen. Admission: $5 (ages 12&up);
    children of ages 11 years and under admitted free.

 Make use of this stamp:  
 send us a Letter about the 
 Drive-ins of Kentucky!

If you are aware of any Drive-ins
that we seem to have missed, or
would like to contribute any
information to our efforts,
please use this envelope
to send a letter to us.


 The Guide to Drive-in Movie Theatres

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