The Best Drive-In Movie Theatres Near Toronto
There’s nothing like a drive-in movie theatre for a blend of old-school nostalgia and the latest films. The big screen, the headlights, the scent of concession popcorn drifting on the breeze — it’s a classic night out for a reason.
It’s no wonder that the atmosphere at a good drive-in movie theatre has made it into countless films, too, from Grease to Cars. It’s simply the stuff that movies are made of, and for. And fortunately for film fans, there are several drive-in movie theatres near Toronto where you can get in on this experience yourself.
From brand new drive-ins with the Toronto skyline as a backdrop to mid-century screens that have been pleasing families and date-night couples since the 1960s, there’s a lot of options to choose from. And whether you’re looking for something close to downtown Toronto for a quick evening out or further afield to cap off a day in the country, there’s a little something for everyone. These are seven of the best drive-in movie theatres near Toronto.
You may have seen some amazing films, but have you ever seen them projected over a 238-ft stage at Polson Pier with the Toronto skyline in the background? CityView Drive-In has the location factor down pat, close to other fun attractions like the Docks Driving Range and soccer and beach volleyball at Ballsports Polson Pier, not to mention downtown and Old Town attractions just 10 to 15 minutes drive away. In addition to drive-in movies, CityView also hosts outdoor concerts and a regular rotation of Toronto’s best food trucks.
The Starlite Drive in Theatre
With classics like Goonies and Gremlins plus brand-new family-friendly films and new releases for grown-ups like Dune and Ghostbusters Afterlife, Starlite Drive In is one of the closest to downtown Toronto. There are combo deals on concessions meals that will make even family budgets a breeze, and the theatre is just a hop, skip and jump from other fun daytime activities like the Rogers Reservoir Conservation Area and numerous golf clubs.
Just outside of Mississauga, the 5 Drive-In has been part of the Oakville community since the 1960s, but like many drive-ins has seen a resurgence since the pandemic turned indoor entertainment businesses on their head. In addition to three screens with a variety of films, the 5 Drive-In also offers edible treats like funnel cake and chilli cheese dogs to accentuate the film-going experience.
Part of a massive 100-acre, 20 million sq ft development in Vaughan, a city at the north end of the greater Toronto metro area, the SmartVMC Drive-In features a free series of drive-in movies. The run takes place Thursdays and Saturdays during the summer months, and when films aren’t showing the screen plays host to art murals from four prominent artists including Spaniard Ricardo Cavalo, Montreal-based Jeremy Shantz, and Torontonians Jerry Rugg and Ben Johnston.
Sunset Barrie Drive-in Theatre
At a little less than an hour and a half from Toronto, the Sunset Barrie is a drive. But its picturesque location near Lake Simcoe is worth a day trip or a weekend away. There are traditional concessions on-site like popcorn, nachos and hot dogs. But there is also more filling fare like pulled-pork sandwiches, chicken fingers and fried pickles on a stick. Films range from family-friendly Disney flicks to more adult comedies and blockbusters. Just a short drive from Roeberta Park and Oro Lea Beach, it’s easy to end a fun day on the lake with a night at the movies.
Caramel popcorn, Dip-In-Dots and slushies are just some of the classic movie theatre fare that awaits at the Mustang Drive-In outside of Guelph Lakes an hour from Toronto. On Sundays, there are special deals like group pricing for a car-load of visitors. Just keep in mind that the Mustang is a cash-only operation, so be sure to have plenty for tickets and treats — in Canadian dollars, if you’re an international visitor.
Movies Under the Stars
While many of the drive-in movie theatres in the Toronto metro area are hold-overs of mid-century car culture that found new life from nostalgia and the pandemic, Movies Under the Stars in Downsview Park is a little different. This giant inflatable movie screen pops up in one of Toronto's largest parks for the month of July each year as part of the Reelworld Film Festival. In past years, the movies have been a mix of kid-ready favourites and drive-in nostalgia bombs like Back to the Future along with cutting-edge selections like Ky Nam Le Duc’s The Greatest Country in the World.