Check Out These Drive-In Movie Theaters Around South Florida

Just pull in, and pull out your popcorn.

Amilcar Lugo/Shutterstock
Amilcar Lugo/Shutterstock
Amilcar Lugo/Shutterstock

Drive-in theaters have become the new craft-distilled hand sanitizer. No, they don’t all inexplicably smell like spring break tequila (though, that’s definitely a possibility). But they are a COVID-19 advent that seem to be popping up everywhere, from abandoned construction sites to Walmart parking lots. While many of these are one-off events, a number of spots around South Florida have regularly scheduled movies or frequent screenings — and offer a fun, potentially wholesome alternative to our usual schedule of Miami weekend debauchery.
From Lake Worth all the way down to Florida City, you’ll find drive-ins broadcasting movie sound in English and Spanish right into your car. And allowing you to control the AC so you don’ t need to bring a sweater to watch the new Bill & Ted. Some have concessions, some have food trucks, some threaten to burn your feet if you leave your car. But all are outstanding options if you’re jonesing for a movie outside of your living room.

FIFF Theatre at Pier 66 Hotel and Marina

Ft. Lauderdale
With the 17th Street Causeway bridge and the Intracoastal Waterway as a backdrop, this new theater at the Pier 66 Hotel is easily the most scenic drive-in setting in South Florida. Pull in just before sunset and watch the colors change over the swaying palms and Port Everglades in the distance, then hit up one of the copious food trucks for your in-movie snacks. FLIFF members get 50% off the $30 carload ticket price, with high-level members getting in free with an RSVP.

Florida City Cinema

Florida City
If like many South Floridians, you enjoy spending your Sunday perusing the produce stands and farms along Krome Avenue, the perfect way to end your long day of mango squeezing is with a nice double feature at the Florida City Cinema. Though this pop-up drive-in near the Walmart at the end of the Turnpike doesn’t do it every weekend, on select Sundays you can pay the $15 entrance fee for the first movie and get the second one free. This leaves you loads of extra cash to sample the food trucks parked onsite — that is, if your car’s not already filled with produce.

Swap Shop and Drive-in Theater

Ft. Lauderdale
Back before every vacant lot that could support a radio broadcast was opening up a drive-in, there was the Swap Shop. The funky flea market and Ferrari museum was the only place you could blaze up and watch Harold & Kumar on the big screen without security throwing you out. Now the often-mocked Swap Shop has gone from the butt of jokes to Friday night hotspot, relatively, one of the handful of drive-ins showing first-run movies with a legit concession stand. And, still, plenty of questionable aromas.

Lake Worth Swap Shop and Drive-in

Lake Worth
Lauderdale’s Swap Shop not Florida enough for you? Cool. Head the extra 45 minutes or so up the turnpike to Lake Worth where all the people you’ve read about walking alligators, misspelling tattoos, and sleeping with their high school teachers hang out on Friday. Like its Broward County counterpart, the Lake Worth Swap Shop also shows first-run flicks with a lot more trucks. That said, the concession stand is one of the cheaper ones you’ll ever encounter, so no need to transport Hefty bags of pre-popped popcorn across the county line.

Doral Central Park

There have been more than a few Fridays when you could probably leave your office in Doral and have time to watch Dumbo in your car before getting to the Palmetto. But now at least one Friday a month you can do it without having to also navigate traffic. Doral Central Park is hosting a monthly drive-in movie on the final Friday of the month, showing slightly longer animated flicks like Wonder Park and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Drive-in at the Miami-Dade Fair

Never ones to miss a chance at creating some childhood nostalgia, the folks at the Miami-Dade Fair and Exposition have transformed part of the fairgrounds into a drive-in movie theater, featuring older classics like Dirty Dancing, Grease, and Shrek. Though there are concessions at the drive-in, get the full fair experience by hitting up the fair food drive-thru nearby and gorge yourself on elephant ears, funnel cakes, and fried Oreos beforehand. And this time,  you won’t even have to worry about yacking them up on the Gravitron.

Fountain Plaza at Hard Rock Stadium

Miami Gardens
Though the drive-in movies at Hard Rock Stadium have been evicted in favor of the slightly more disappointing and exponentially more expensive Dolphins, you can still get your outdoor movie fix at HRS in Fountain Plaza, where a big, socially distanced outdoor movie theater has popped up to keep the film train rolling. It’s technically more of a drive-to theater than a drive-in, where you’re welcome to bring lawn chairs and post up on the grass to watch classics like Jaws and Goonies. But for the full date-night experience, opt for the prix-fixe restaurant that offers a three-course dinner from Chef Dayanny De La Cruz in a private seating area.

Carpool Cinema

This small-ish drive-in on Miami Avenue doubles down on its grade-school throwbacks, not only featuring movies that transport some of us back to our single-digit glory days of Goonies and The Mummy, but also telling all who plan to attend that “the floor is lava.” This is a reference to the theater’s rule prohibiting anyone from leaving their car for anything other than bathroom breaks. Though, if you’re starving, you can still order food delivery to your car from a number of local restaurants.

Oleta River State Park

North Miami Beach
Drive-up movies are cool for cities that don’t have epic amounts of brilliant turquoise water and miles of twisting mangrove forests. For cities who do have those amenities, paddle-up movies make way more sense. That’s why Oleta River is starting its Movies on the Water series September 18, where you’ll conclude a 45-minute paddle through the park with a movie on the big screen in its beach cove. The first feature will fittingly be Finding Nemo, with more to be announced soon.

Dezerland Park

North Miami
For years, Dezerland was known to many Miamians as “that enormous car museum with the Ninja Warrior course that we really should hit up next weekend.” But during the pandemic it has finally gotten some name recognition as a drive-in movie theater, of all things. And though it’s not currently running a regular schedule, it does host frequent one-off screenings, like it did with the recent opener for the Outshine Film Festival.Sign up here for our daily Miami email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

Matt Meltzer is a Miami-based contributor for Thrillist.


Bad Bunny and David Grutman's Sexy AF Miami Steakhouse is Finally Here

The rapper does whatever he wants.

Photo by Michael Stavaridis
Photo by Michael Stavaridis
Photo by Michael Stavaridis

David Grutman is back at it again, and this time the hospitality guru is bringing a new partner into the fold-award-winning recording artist, Bad Bunny. Located in Miami’s trendy Brickell neighbourhood, Gekkō, which translates to “moonlight” is a Japanese-inspired steakhouse that will serve fancy cuts of Wagyu alongside a bevy of sushi offerings. In true Groot Hospitality form, this isn’t your basic steakhouse, it’s also got a lounge that very well may play the sounds of Bad Bunny and the like into the wee hours of the night.

“Gekkō is the result of so many of my obsessions in food,” says David Grutman, Founder of Groot Hospitality. “It’s a steakhouse inspired by Japanese cuisine. There are delicious, innovative sushi rolls. There’s a lounge. I knew I wanted to do something that combined these worlds, and once I started speaking with Bunny, I knew he’d be a great partner. Gekkō is about having an incredible meal while having an equally incredible night.”


To celebrate the opening of Gekkō (not so coincidentally the same weekend Bad Bunny has two shows scheduled in South Florida), the crew hosted a massive grand opening party that attracted dozens of A-list celebrities and friends of both Grutman and Bad Bunny. Upon arrival, in his white Bugatti, mobs of fans who spent the entire evening swarming the restaurant began chanting “Benito! Benito!” as he exited his car in an all black suit paired with black sunglasses.

The night went something like this. A-list artists of every genre came out to celebrate. Future and Lil Wayne were seen on a couch in deep conversation and catching up with Mack Maine. Bad Bunny and Karol G were spotted running from table to table together, while DJ Khaled was seen embracing Bad Bunny and congratulating him on such a beautiful new restaurant. Timbaland and Andy Garcia were spotted hanging out for a long period, while Sophie Turner and her husband, Joe Jonas, hung with Victoria and David Beckham. Amidst that hundreds of average joes mixed and mingled while attempting to make their way to the bar so they could get a peek at some of the restaurant’s cocktails and sushi bites. It was quite a scene.

Photo courtesy of Michael Stavaridis
Photo courtesy of Michael Stavaridis
Photo courtesy of Michael Stavaridis

Okay, so back to the restaurant. Gekkō was designed by New York City-based architecture and design firm, Rockwell Group, and is made up of three different rooms with seats for up to 185 diners. It’s centred around sultry jewel-toned decor with plush and stylistic elements like a custom gold and red dip-dyed rope installation, graphic wall coverings, and velvet drapery.

Now you might be wondering about the food, because that’s really why we’re going to a restaurant, right? Gekkō’s menu begins with shared plates where diners will find things like a signature Japanese milk bread, “Lava and Ice” Kumamoto Oysters, lobster dumplings, and a wedge salad. When it comes to raw plates there’s sushi and sashimi classics as well as an opulent 24k Otoro, that’s exactly what it sounds like-deliciously tender fatty tuna covered in a layer of 24k gold leaf.

Photo by Libby Vision
Photo by Libby Vision
Photo by Libby Vision

Then there’s the steaks which include a Tomahawk cut, an olive-fed filet mignon from Kagawa, Japan, and a snow beef strip from Hokkaido, Japan. Specialty preparations include Wagyu skirt steak and a bone-in ribeye. And because Grutman is always sure his restaurants cater to the tastes of everyone, there’s even some plant-based chicken options and more.

“Sitting down with friends to enjoy a good meal is one of the moments I value the most,” says Bad Bunny. “I am thrilled that now I will have a hand in creating this experience for others.”

Gekkō opens tonight at 8 SE 8th Street in Brickell. The dining room and lounge serve customers from 6 to 11 pm Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and 6 pm to 12 am Friday and Saturday. Valet parking is available for $20 or you can attempt to find a street parking on Brickell. Visit for reservations.

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Amber Love Bond is a contributor for Thrillist.


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