Summer magic of family time and nostalgia can be found under the stars

Last updated: August 30, 2021

In Athens, a small community located in Mercer County, West Virginia, the stars align every weekend at the Pipestem Drive-In Theater. Cars line the lot, families pull out lawn chairs and blankets and settle down for their favorite big screen flicks. The atmosphere – that combination of nostalgia and family time – is almost magical and hard to find.

Athens is home to one of the last remaining drive-in theaters in the state. Of the 348 drive-in movie theaters remaining in the United States, West Virginia has only six still in operation. The youngest of West Virginia’s remaining drive-ins, the Pipestem Drive-In opened in 1972.  

Open May through September on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, there is room for 285 cars with sound through speakers or through your car radio. If you sit close to the concession stand, outdoor speakers at the stand are easy to hear as well. It is a throwback to earlier times but with modern conveniences.

“One of the most popular things we do are themed weekends”, says manager Ruth Billings. “Based on the movies we get in, we like to do themed weekends where people dress up and we do popcorn prize giveaways. Superhero and Disney themed weekends are some that we have done in the past.”

One of the best parts of going to the Pipestem Drive-In is the beautiful journey to get there. Home to Concord University, Athens is a trip through the countryside. The scenic two-lane roads passes through farmland and sleepy communities like Speedway.  The trip, especially during sunset, will set the mood for a relaxing, summer evening together.

The Pipestem Drive-In attracts guests from all over the region. Many travelling several hours to take in a double feature. “We get a lot of folks from Charleston, Beckley, Tazwell and Wyoming county” says Billings.

The drive-in is a great way to social distance too.  Tickets are only $7 and just $4 for children under 11. Sunday nights are only $14 per car load, so pile in and bring the whole family!  Movies begin after dusk. Pipestem Drive-In is located on Hinton Road in Athens, WV.

The 2020 season runs through Labor Day, with special weekend events during Halloween.

Call 304-384-7382 for show times.