Drive-in restaurants are back in.
The appeal of the drive-in diner continues to endure. Convenient, relaxing and nostalgic, drive-ins are a family-friendly activity from simpler times, and we can still appreciate that now. Many of Wisconsin's drive-ins embrace that old-school spirit in their hours, operating only during the warmer months, so be sure to check their schedules before stopping by. Here are a few diners from around the state to try out on your travels.
Skating car hops will roll orders to your car or outdoor picnic tables, while your favorite 1950s and ‘60s tunes play in the background. Enjoy a root beer or old-fashioned soda fountain favorites that have been served here on the banks of beautiful Lake Winnebago since 1948. Visit by car or by boat – Ardy & Ed’s is located across from a public boat landing and park.
Gus’s offers frozen custard with a different flavor-of-the-day every day, and options like Greek gyros and Italian meatballs add an international flair to the menu. Enjoy a “Heavy Chevy” burger while admiring the 1950s decor and stop by on a Saturday night to see hundreds of classic cars. And if you’re visiting summer hotspot Lake Geneva, you’re in luck – Gus’s, in Troy, is just a few minutes away.
You’ll know you’re approaching this drive-in when you see large block letters announcing THE KILTIE on the roof –– a throwback to neon signage. Enjoy burgers, fries, onion rings and weekly new custard flavors, like raspberry dole whip with rainbow sprinkles. And keep in mind that The Kiltie is old-school through-and-through, which means they are cash only.
Grandpa Rudy first opened his A&W Root Beer stand in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin in 1933. Today, dinner at Rudy's has been a beloved tradition for over 80 years, with operations run three generations later by Rudy’s grandson, Gary.
Cruisin’ Nights attract a loyal crowd for the free root beer float just for showing up with your classic car. On the menu you’ll find chili dogs, buffalo burgers and the Historic Trempealeau Hotel Walnut Burger, or go for the full family option with ten chili dogs, family size french fries and a half-gallon of draft root beer.
Bonus: Food + Film
One of Wisconsin’s newest drive-ins is located in a growing entertainment district –– which includes a baseball stadium, bike trails and a hotel –– in the southwest Milwaukee suburb. of Franklin The Milky Way Drive-In accommodates 150 vehicles and shows movies on an outdoor 40-foot LED screen, providing burgers and fries (and popcorn, of course) ordered via app and delivered by car hop.
Still hungry? Try another of Wisconsin's one-of-a-kind, only-in-the-summer dining experiences: a pizza farm!