Pull off of Raleigh Road into the line of cars and show your tickets to the man in the booth and be ushered into the dirt lot, where you try to find a space up front near the big screen. The sun is going down over the surrounding trees as you find a great spot right up front to pull into backwards. This makes it easy for you to hop out of the car, lay your back seats down, open up the back of your SUV, so you can get a great view of the movies you came to see tonight.
A popular American pastime that has dwindled away over the last couple decades that I absolutely love is the Drive-In movie theater setup. I grew up visiting the Drive-In Theater in Sacramento, California, where they have multiple lots with screens for different showings, and they are open every day of the week.
The Raleigh Road Theatre is located in Henderson, North Carolina and has weekend showings of new and old movies every week, Thursday-Sunday night. The theater opens at 6 on Fridays and Saturdays and it opens at 7 on Thursdays and Sundays. That way you can get there early to find a spot, get setup, and hangout before the movie.
I definitely recommend getting there early so you can find a great spot to watch the movie from. When the weather is good the theater fills up and the line for food gets long early, so I definitely suggest arriving as early as you can.
We were surprised to find that the theater has a great food menu to choose from, and they host different food trucks that also have great selections depending on what you’re craving. The concessions prices are also very low, which was another awesome surprise. Buying food there is how you can support the theater and keep it running for years to come. You can walk up to the concessions and order your food and drinks there, and you’ll be handed a buzzer, so you know when your hot food is ready to be picked up. They also have an online menu where you can order from, and they’ll have your food within 20-30 minutes depending on how busy they are.
The Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre is pretty small for a drive-in theater, with one screen for showings where they preview two features each night they are open. Because of the slim options you may want to skip the showing one weekend, and wait until the next week for something you really want to go see. They don’t only play the same two movies every night each weekend. They switch it up and might play a new movie each night and then they’ll change the 2nd movie they play each night that weekend, or something like that.
Sometimes the theater will play marathons of a certain series. The first time we visited the Raleigh Road theater we chose the night they were playing the first and second Harry Potter movies. Recently they played the first, second, and third of the Lord of the Rings movies, one each weekend, three weekends in a row. Always be checking what they are showing in case they choose a favorite of yours.
When the weather is nice expect a lot of people to be there with long concession lines and a packed lot, especially Friday and Saturday nights. Recently we went up there for a date night and it was about 48 degrees that night with some rain. We laid down a thick comforter underneath us for insulation, and we shared a sleeping bag and a fleece blanket, which was enough to keep us comfortable and warm during the movies. We were still able to open up the back of the car even though it was raining.
You are able to hear the movie being played by tuning the radio of your car to the station setting the Raleigh Road provides you when you arrive. If you’re worried about your car battery dying from having it in accessory mode for so long, you can always purchase one of these battery-powered radios for your visit. I chose to get one cause I figure we’ll be going to the theater all summer, and I don’t want to risk it with my car battery.
This Drive-In Theater is such a gem, and it’s great for a weekend outing with family or friends. I highly recommend making the trip to Henderson for a night out. The theater even allows dogs, if your they are barking to come along. Have fun and enjoy this amazing local treasure!
Raleigh Road Outdoor Theater in Henderson, NC.