Carhops, frosty mugs of root beer, and ice cream upon ice cream… What’s not to love at these Ohio drive-in restaurants?
Flash those lights for service… Remember that? Well, there’s still plenty of places in Ohio that a quick flash of the lights summons a carhop to your window. The drive-in restaurant is still alive and well in the buckeye state, but don’t take our word for it. Make it your summer mission to visit our 10 favorite Ohio drive-ins…
The Root Beer Stand in Sharonville, OH (just outside Cincinnati) has seen a lot of changes since it first opened as an A&W several decades ago. The advent of the interstates meant less tourists stopping by, but by then "the Stand" had already earned a diehard local following. Today, this local love for The Root Beer Stand continues to fill its parking lot 'round the clock. Located in our hometown, we personally stop here more than we should admit.
Just barely on the Buckeye side of the Ohio/PA border, White Turkey Drive-In is amazing enough to draw folks from both states (and all over the world!) For over 65 years, folks have been pulling up a stool at their fun, approachable 3-sided bar for some of the creamiest root beer and most tender & tasty turkey sandwiches in the whole state of Ohio (or PA!). The White Turkey Drive-In is the perfect mix of nostalgia, great food, and friendly staff.
Do you like hand-cut fries? Do you like killer coney dogs? Yeah, of course you do. So you're going to love the Ashland-Wooster Drive In. Originally opened as an A&W many years ago, it's long established itself as an Ashland mainstay. The Ashland-Wooster Drive-In looks, feels, and even tastes just like a classic drive-in restaurant.
Sometimes your drive-in is just so good, you open a second sit-down location. That's what Sumburger Drive-In did a few years ago after 6 decades of service at their drive-in location. Today, both spots are going strong thanks to a mouth-watering menu anchored by the double "Sumburger," a burger built with 2 fresh local beef patties and all the fixings including their own signature sauce. Whether you use a carhop or "phone" in your order from a booth, you'll like what you end up with at Sumburger.
Ok, so Jolly's may have moved to a more "restaurant-ish" location, but it's still an old-school drive-in in spirit. If there's a community car show, cruise-in, or festival, chances are Jolly's Drive-In has a hand in it. (You may even spot a Jolly's food truck on the scene.) Their menu hasn't changed much in the past 50 years... Good ol' fashioned root beer, hot dogs, and sandwiches, but when it's not broken, why try to fix it? No matter where they're located, Jolly's remains a Tiffin gathering place just as it has for years.
A trip to the Dalton Dari-ette is like driving back to 1957... In the past 60+ years, very little has changed at the Dalton Dari-ette. It's still cash only, and it still serves the best darn milkshakes you'll find for miles. Tucked on the edge of Amish country, everything about the Dalton Dari-ette feels classic and unspoiled.
If you ask anyone in Akron where to find the best burger, chances are they'll point you to a Swenson's Drive-In for their juicy Galley Boy. It's practically its own food group for folks in the Canton/Akron area. When "Pop" Swenson opened his first drive-in in 1934, we bet he never imagined it would blossom into dozens of locations across not only Akron but all Ohio (including 2 food trucks.) The style and design of each Swenson's may be a little different, but the quality of the food and service would still make Pop proud. Find one near you and you can thank us later.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Yep, all three are the real deal at Guerne Heights Drive-In on the outskirts of Wooster, OH. For the first 40 years or so, the place didn't change much, but when the drive-in passed to new owners, they took an already great thing and made it better by expanding the menu, making the milkshakes and ice cream even creamier, and adding more seating. These days, this little drive-in tucked into the corn and bean fields is a community gathering place for great food and fun times.
We just love their tagline, "The place to be since '63." What's great is it's true. Swing by K&W on a Friday night and you'll find half of Springboro enjoying a pineapple whip (our personal favorite) or something from the grill. Heck, even the local pets will be enjoying their "Doggy Cups." K&W Drive-In is the kind of place you work your first job and then stop by every time you ever go home to relive the memories. It's why we love drive-ins. (Thanks to Little Suzzie Photography for capturing the pure joy of K&W.)
Steve and Rebecca Prechtl took a big risk when they purchased the Wot-a-Dog and committed to reopening the New Carlisle landmark. Thanks to their absolute passion for their customers and the drive-in's history, Wot-A-Dog is again "the" place in town for a coney dog and mug of root beer. Follow along on Facebook so you can plan your next visit during one of their frequent summer cruise ins!
What drive-ins are still going strong in your neck of the woods?