In today's IMAX and HDTV era, seeing films at a drive-in is refreshingly low-tech. If your kids' only experience of an outdoor theater involves the mad scramble for lawn space at Bryant Park, they may be surprised to learn that the old-fashioned kind still exists. Even better, we found several within two and a half hours of the city. Nearby daytime attractions will keep kids' minds off the allure of a ginormous screen until sunset.
Continuously operated since 1949, the Hyde Park Drive-in boasts a single 82-foot-wide projection area and accommodates nearly 700 cars. (4114 Albany Post Rd; 845-229-4738, hydeparkdrivein.com. See website for movie schedule. $8, children ages 5--11 $4, under 5 free. 90 miles from NYC). Down the road from the theater is Springwood, the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt and now a National Historic Site. It showcases such artifacts as the 32nd President's custom-modified Ford convertible. The museum, stunning grounds and house are all stroller accessible (4079 Albany Post Rd; 800-337-8474, nps.gov/hofr). Two miles away, the restored 1914 Hyde Park train station displays working model locomotives (34 River Rd, hydeparkstation.com).
Poughkeepsie's Overlook Drive-in opened the same year as Hyde Park's; owner Barry Horowitz has operated both for the past 45 years. Located ten minutes off the parkway and a quarter-mile from the heart of town, the single 100-foot screen is situated on 17 acres and surrounded by trees, giving the grassy venue a secluded feel (126 DeGarmo Rd; 845-452-3445, overlookdrivein.com. See website for movie schedule. $8, children ages 5--11 $4, under 5 free. 95 miles from NYC). Your crew can await dusk with a round of mini-putt at nearby Overlook Golf and Recreation Center (39 Degarmo Rd, 845-471-8515, overlookgolfcenter.com) or a stroll through the Trevor Zoo in Millbrook, the only zoo in the country housed on a high-school campus. Because maintenance of the facility is part of the boarding school's curriculum, you won't find cheesy gift carts or animal shows—just 180 critters to ogle, among them river otters and endangered lemurs (131 Millbrook School Rd; 845-677-3704, trevorzoo.org. $5, $3 for children). Stop in for a pre-movie dinner at the boxcar-style Millbrook Diner (3266 Franklin Ave, 845-677-5319), and bring some quarters for the jukebox.
The Warwick Drive-in opened in 1950 with a single screen; today, two screens set on 11 acres play a half-dozen nightly features. (9 Warwick Tpke; 845-986-4440, warwickdrivein.com. See website for movie schedule. $8, children ages 4--11 $5, under 4 free. 60 miles from NYC). Until showtime, browse the quaint village of Warwick, where you'll find shops like the Toy Chest (62 Main St, 845-986-8697, toychest.biz) and Sweetbriars Chocolate and Confections (26 Railroad Ave, 845-986-5700). If you prefer your dessert with a view, head to the top of nearby Mt. Peter for homemade sorbet and ice cream from the creamery at local Bellvale Farms (385 Rte 17A; 845-988-1818, bellvalefarms.com). Just be sure to save room for the customary snack-bar raid.