The Best Movie Theater in Every State

A crowd of happy spectators are in the movie, sitting in the chairs laughing at the movie they are watching and enjoying popcorn and drinks.

Cinema transports us to euphoric emotions and heartwrenching moments of grief and heartbreak. It succeeds in bringing opposing forces together for a universal experience. If I ever feel out of place during a trip, I visit a cinema to tune back into the human experience, surrounded by strangers. I've compiled a list of each state's best movie theaters to celebrate that unique worldwide kinship. 

1. Alabama- Sidewalk Film Center + Cinema, Birmingham

Sidewalk Film Center + Cinema, Birmingham
Image Credit: Sidewalk Film Center + Cinema.

This independent non-profit cinema promotes filmmaking, hosting several film festivals yearly, including the Sidewalk Film Festival and the Shout LGBTQ+ Festival. Showings delve into classic catalogs—paired with newer titles—like Howl's Moving Castle, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and The Maltese Falcon. Rows of yellow, black, red, brown, and gray chairs decorate the theater. 

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2. Alaska- Gold Town Theater, Juneau

Gold Town Theater, Juneau
Image Credit: Gold Town Theater.

Branded as Alaska's only independent arthouse cinema, this eclectic yet intimate brings contemporary, foreign, arthouse, independent, and documentary films to the silver screen. Fans gather in the emerald-curtained room and choose an old-fashioned red theater seat for the show. 

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3. Arizona- Pollack Cinemas, Tempe

Pollack Cinemas, Tempe
Image Credit: Pollack Cinemas.

Attendees first notice a colossal star etched into the polished floors of the Pollack Cinemas. As their eyes wander, they gaze over the retro Box Office sign, affixed with twinkling lights and human workers in place of computerized kiosks. A game with Pac-Man, two-player shooter games, and racing matches entrance visitors on the other side of the lobby. 

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4. Arkansas- Melba Theater, Batesville

Melba Theater, Batesville
Image Credit: Melba Theater.

An iridescent, symmetrical Melba sign introduces movie-goers to the Batesville entertainment center. The Art Deco building underwent multiple rounds of construction, closures, and revisions but remains a functioning business included in the National Register of Historic Places. 

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5. California-TCL Chinese Theatre, Hollywood

TCL Chinese Theatre, Hollywood
Image Credit: TCL Chinese Theatre.

Have you ever visited a movie theater adorned with celebrities' handprints? Movie stars such as Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, and Mel Gibson graced the Forecourt of the Stars with their hand and footprints at the Chinese Theatre, making the location a popular cinema to tour. The exterior resembles a Chinese palace, and the interior encompasses a sloped design, allowing each guest an unparalleled screen view. TCL also houses the largest IMAX theater in the world.

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6. Colorado-Landmark Mayan's Theater 

Landmark's Mayan Theater, Denver
Image Credit: Carptrash – CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

 

According to the Landmark Mayan's website, the theater is among three in the U.S. showcasing the Art Deco Mayan Revival Style, thanks to its narrow escape from destruction in 1986. An illuminated marquee entitled MAYAN invites guests into the three-screen theater for blockbusters and retro hits. 

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7. Connecticut- Avon Theatre Film Center, Stamford

Avon Theatre Film Center, Stamford
Image Credit: John9474 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

The Avon Theatre stresses the community found through film. The theatre strives to bring the most educational, touching, and telling documentaries to the theatre to attract different people to collide in the same room. The theatre offers two showrooms, each furnished with cozy red chairs and historical art on the walls. 

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8. Delaware- The Clayton Theatre, Dagsboro

The Clayton Theatre, Dagsboro
Image Credit: The Clayton Theatre.

Step in a time machine back to 1948 when you visit The Clayton Theatre in Dagsboro, Delaware. The single-screen art deco studio projects one film every few weeks in “Delaware's only single-screen theatre still in operation. 

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9. Florida- Tampa Theatre, Tampa

Tampa Theatre, Tampa
Image Credit: Tampa Theatre.

Realistic stars twinkle on the ceiling of Tampa's jaw-dropping theatre. In the heart of downtown, a Mediterranean-style palazzo emerges, complete with intricate statues and awe-inspiring portraits that cover the theatre.

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10. Georgia- The Plaza Theatre, Atlanta

The Plaza Theatre, Atlanta
Image Credit: Keizers – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

The Plaza prides itself on its status as Atlanta's oldest operating independent theatre. The theatre profits off its classic feeling, stitching movie posters to the wall, rolling out a gold and green designed carpet, and protecting the screens with a gold curtain. 

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11. Hawaii- Palace Theater, Hilo

Palace Theater, Hilo
Image Credit: Palace Theater.

Many of these theaters gloat Art Deco designs, but the architect of the Palace Theater tackled a Beaux-Arts style for the cinema. Uniform candles line each side of the showroom, chandeliers hang from labyrinthine designs sketched on the ceiling, and green drapes reveal the singular screen in the 500-seater room. 

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 12. Idaho- The Flicks, Boise

The Flicks, Boise
Image Credit: Diane Barone.

The Flicks secured itself as a favorite since its opening in 1984. Though the name suggests the theatre belittles itself to only movies, that is not the case. The Flicks offers a cafe for snack and drink fixes prior to or following your flick, a garden patio to unwind with nature, and a DVD rental shop featuring the hottest flicks today. 

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13. Illinois- Music Box Theatre, Chicago

Music Box Theatre, Chicago
Image Credit: JoAnna Dornick – CC BY-SA 2.0/Wiki Commons.

The Music Box's ode to traditional cinema situates 700 seats inside the larger of the two theaters, 75 inside the smaller, and continues to use real butter on their popcorn. If you don't want to see a movie, or you need to rehash your thoughts following a screening, pop into the lounge. A comforting treat for any movie enthusiast, with posters, trivia, and board games scattered throughout the den. 

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14. Indiana-Living Room Theaters, Indianapolis

Living Room Theaters, Indianapolis
Image Credit: Missvain – Own work, CC BY 4.0/Wiki Commons.

The Living Room Theaters take their name to heart. The geniuses behind the theater began their journey in Oregon before bringing the experience to Indiana. To mimic the relaxation felt in a living room, the inventors enhance comfort with plushy recliners and six rows of overhead lighting, dimmer than grating fluorescent lightbulbs found in other theaters. 

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15. Iowa-Grand Theater, Knoxville

Grand Theater, Knoxville
Image Credit: Grand Theater.

Do you remember the last time you saw a movie for $5? All tickets at the Grand Theater clock in at $5, and with first-run features, cult classics, and timeless favorites in a theater full of refined brown chairs and a silk curtain, how can you beat that price?

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16. Kansas- Boulevard Drive-In, Kansas City 

Boulevard Drive-In, Kansas City
Image Credit: Boulevard Drive-In.

Sadly, many drive-in theaters faded into the past with the emergence of indoor cinemas. However, the Boulevard Drive-In in Kansas City entertains citizens to this day. The drive-in provides visitors with the world's first 4K drive-in experience, matching the dated experience with the modern outing.

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17. Kentucky- The Kentucky Theater, Lexington 

The Kentucky Theater, Lexington
Image Credit: Tamanoeconomico – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

A neon green and pink marquee lights up the entrance to the Kentucky theater, a century-old historical Marvel dedicated to screening the best titles in cinema. The Italian Renaissance architecture delights every guest with gorgeous golden arches, lights, and light fixtures. 

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18. Louisiana- The Broad Theater, New Orleans

The Broad Theater, New Orleans
Image Credit: The Broad Theater.

On the corner of Broad Street, an off-white building stands out, donning the emblazoned word Broad on a side pillar. Are you tired of sitting indoors, struggling to stay awake during a moving picture? Step outside to the Broad's outdoor theater for fresh air and a new picture. 

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19. Maine- Colonial Theatre, Belfast

Colonial Theatre, Belfast
Image Credit: Caroline Gallant.

A sculpted elephant sits atop this art deco theater, showcasing the latest Hollywood hits and foreign films. The colorful entrances warms visitors with splashes of pink, purple, and green stripes before they enter the golden theaters. 

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20. Maryland- The Senator Theatre, Baltimore 

The Senator Theatre, Baltimore
Image Credit: The Senator Theatre.

A circular marquee draws passersby's attention to Baltimore's oldest open movie theatre. It's a flashback to the 1950s inside this sophisticated red-seat theatre clad with a signature gold curtain. 

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21. Massachusetts- The Brattle Theatre, Cambridge

The Brattle Theatre, Cambridge
Image Credit: Beyond My Ken – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

Here's another intimate one-screen movie house situated near Harvard Square. When selecting their show lists, the Brattle Theatre focuses on the art scene and foreign and independent titles. The quaint brick theatre opens doors to a seated area with blue seats and a balcony.

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22. Michigan- Harbor Springs Lyric Theatre, Harbor Springs

Harbor Springs Lyric Theatre, Harbor Springs
Image Credit: Harbor Springs Lyric Theatre.

A starry night sky drapes over a theater painted with a village, while another room chronicles art relaying a ski lift story and the last hones in a fall mountainside. Even if the movie reaches a lull, the art around you will inspire you to create. Specials at the Lyric Theatre include 25-cent family favorites and $2 classics.  

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23. Minnesota- Cozy Theatre, Wadena

Cozy Theatre, Wadena
Image Credit: Kellie Floren.

Bring a blanket and pillow and snuggle up at the Cozy Theatre, where beige and maroon curtains pepper each wall of the three-screen cinema. Matching maroon recliners extend backward, permitting attendees to stretch out during first-run premieres. 

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24. Mississippi- Elkin Theatre, Aberdeen

Elkin Theatre, Aberdeen
Image Credit: Tim Mitchell/Elkin Theatre.

Elkin shows release a few weeks after the first run, granting the cinema to charge guests $5 per visit—the glowing marquee waves interested movie-goers into the split cinema equipped with updated sound design and high-definition resolution. 

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25. Missouri-Ragtag Cinema, Columbia 

Ragtag Cinema, Columbia
Image Credit: Me5000 – Public Domain/Wiki Commons.

Ragtag Cinema fans gather in a humble brick building to watch the best independent films today. Cinephiles pile into the theater centered around four focal points: integrity, inclusivity, playfulness, and sustainability. At Ragtag, these four standpoints align for a heightened viewing experience. 

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26. Montana-Art House Cinema and Pub, Billings

Art House Cinema and Pub, Billings
Image Credit: Art House Cinema and Pub.

Art House is a newer cinema that opened its doors in 2015. Art House exists to challenge and stir up discussions surrounding moving statements evoked in film. The theater surfaced as a new method to touch on the expanding art scene in Billings and open conversation between residents. Wood-backed seats and a bar along the left side permeate the warm-toned theater.

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27. Nebraska- Grand Theatre, Grand Island  

Grand Theatre, Grand Island
Image Credit: Paul Neilson/Grand Theatre.

Some movie theaters adapt and shift their look to match current times, but not the Grand. With a rich history, this theatre maintains its original look, providing regulars and newcomers with a one-of-a-kind experience back into the land of moving pictures. Cutouts of Bugs Bunny and E.T. hover above concessions, checkerboarded carpets lead cinephiles into the theatre, and abstract artwork dots the theatre's interior.

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28. Nevada- The Beverly Theatre, Las Vegas 

The Beverly Theater, Las Vegas
Image Credit: The Beverly Theater.

The Beverly appears as a facade, almost fooling visitors into believing it is a mansion with an open-air balcony and distinctive design. The auditorium utilizes its space as a movie and performing arts theatre. With a button press, the workers seamlessly switch between an enclosed theater and a breathable courtyard. 

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29. New Hampshire- Wilton Town Hall Theatre, Wilton

Wilton Town Hall Theatre, Wilton
Image Credit: Michael Labrie/Wilton Town Hall Theatre.

The bottom half of this Queen Anne-style building shows a tan-colored brick foundation topped with a red brick second story, capped with a clock and a compass. Wilton graduated from silent films to modern selections, where a red curtain reveals titles to guests.

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30. New Jersey- Old Movies by the Sea, Wildwood 

Old Movies by the Sea, Wildwood
Image Credit: Old Movies by the Sea.

Before we paid an exorbitant fee for film screenings, film buffs forked over a nickel. Old Movies By the Sea served as one of the first Nickelodeons in existence from 1915 to the mid-1920s. Today, it operates as a dinner theater. Guests choose between charcuterie, shrimp, dumplings, and sandwiches while settling into couch-esque seats. 

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31. New Mexico- Fountain Theatre, la Mesilla

Fountain Theatre, la Mesilla
Image Credit: Kevin Stewart/Fountain Theatre.

A slab of rock with three windows doubles as an independent arthouse movie theater in La Mesilla, New Mexico. The Fountain family purchased the building in 1905; Albert Fountain Jr. extended gratitude to his forefathers by painting them moving into Mesilla. The murals remain on the theater walls today. 

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32. New York- Bam Rose Cinemas, Brooklyn

Bam Rose Cinemas, Brooklyn
Image Credit: King of Hearts – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

A scarlet arch encases the silver screen inside downtown Brooklyn's BAM Rose Cinemas theater. Rows of pastel purple, pink, blue, and yellow seats rest behind the hottest independent film screenings.

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33. North Carolina- The Independent Picture House, Charlotte

The Independent Picture House, Charlotte
Image Credit: The Independent Picture House.

This arthouse cinema opened as a result of cineasts banding together in Charlotte. Thanks to the tight-knit community in The Charlotte Film Society, the organization noticed a hankering for a movie house and cemented the Independent Picture House in 2022. The retro lobby hosts vintage furniture while a red-painted walkway extends to each theater, simulating a red carpet experience.  

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34. North Dakota- Fargo Theatre, Fargo

Fargo Theatre, Fargo
Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith – Library of Congress Catalog – Public Domain/Wiki Commons.

North Dakota's staple theatre resembles the setting of a 1990s talk show. Blue and purple lights brighten up the army green carpeted room, and a tangerine-tinted curtain covers the screen. Yellow drapes and fixtures sit on either side of the screen.

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35. Ohio- Strand Theatre, Delaware

Strand Theatre, Delaware
Image Credit: JBTHEMILKER – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

Wikipedia titles The Strand Theatre as the tenth-longest-operating movie theater in the United States. It nestles around the corner from Wesleyan University, functioning as a popular college dwelling for students to watch and discuss the newest independent and blockbuster films in a compact setting.

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36. Oklahoma- Rodeo Cinema Foundation, Oklahoma City 

Rodeo Cinema Foundation, Oklahoma City
Image Credit: Rodeo Cinema Foundation.

The Rodeo Cinema Foundation is the only not-for-profit arthouse cinema in Oklahoma. With an assemblage of blue seats, guests lean back into the indie films, soaking in the strange and ethereal themes transpiring through each title. 

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37. Oregon- Salem Cinema, Salem

Salem Cinema, Salem
Image Credit: Tim Vickers/Salem Cinema.

Beginning in 1982, Salem Cinema dedicated itself to appreciating the weird, wacky, and rare art that is independent cinema. With every offbeat venture into compelling narratives, Salem Cinema proudly displayed each array. Three screens occupy this arthouse cinema.

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38. Pennsylvania- Ambler Theater, Ambler 

Ambler Theater, Ambler
Image Credit: Ambler Theater.

Twin Spanish colonial pillars tower into the sky, pronouncing the Ambler Theater as the best Pensylvania stop for moving pictures. Ambler screens independent films and older favorites like Elf for $5 family matinees. 

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39. Rhode Island- Avon Cinema, Providence

Avon Cinema, Providence
Image Credit: Rhododendrites – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

A sparkling showtime sign lights up the street below a vibrant marquee detailing the screened movie outside Avon Cinema. A lapping curtain disguises the screen, and swirling light fixtures swim up the walls inside the theater. Brown University borders the corner from this independent cinema that opened its doors in 1938. 

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40. South Carolina- Terrace Theater, Charleston

Terrace Theater, Charleston
Image Credit: Todd Surber/Terrace Theater.

Couches, Connect 4, and candids enrich the Terrace Theater's lobby. Hanging lights droop from the ceiling, suspended over the red carpet, while cineasts stroll from the lobby to the movie screen. Hundreds of liquor and wine bottles sourced locally and internationally fill the concession stands for those seeking to submit to indulgences.

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41. South Dakota- The State Theatre, Sioux Falls

The State Theatre, Sioux Falls
Image Credit: The Erica Chang, CC BY 3.0/Wiki Commons.

The State Theatre launched as a platform to display silent and burlesque films. The theatre screens favorite family films, classics, and notable arthouse titles today. The ornate interior includes golden beaux-arts style pillars, rows of luxurious brown seats, and decadent wall patterns to please the eye. 

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42. Tennessee- Franklin Theatre, Franklin

Franklin Theatre, Franklin
Image Credit:

Tennessee's Franklin Theatre is LEED certified, meaning the cinema strives to achieve a green status with energy-saving tactics and reducing its carbon footprint. The cinema's entrance welcomes visitors with a spectacular red marquee stating the theatre's name. A purple curtain covers the silver screen. 

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43. Texas- Angelika Film Center & Cafe- Dallas

Angelika Film Center & Cafe- Dallas
Image Credit: Angelika Film Center & Cafe.

A glass-paned entrance greets visitors of the Angelika Film Center & Cafe. Below the glowing cobalt marquee lay the movie titles and showtimes for the eight-screen theatre. Angelika favors independent, artsy films yet shows popular blockbuster titles, too. 

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44. Utah-Panguitch Gem Theater, Panguitch

Panguitch Gem Theater, Panguitch
Image Credit: Panguitch Gem Theater.

This festive theatre presents activities for the whole family. Before or after catching your favorite flick, head to the rock shop to glimpse Utah's collection of gems and stones, play a foosball match in the game room, or grab an ice cream cone at the creamery. The dark two-story theatre provides perfect viewing opportunities from the ground floor and balcony seating. 

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45. Vermont- Latchis Theatre, Brattleboro

Latchis Theatre, Brattleboro
Image Credit: Latchis Theatre.

The Latchis Theatre granted its Art Deco design to its construction in 1938. Housing four screens for arthouse and blockbuster films, cinephiles with diverse interests gather in the Greek courtyard theatre ornamented with murals depicting scenes from Greek mythology. Peer up at the ultramarine ceiling at a mural of the zodiac.

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46. Virginia-Suns Cinema- Theater & Bar

Suns Cinema- Theater & Bar
Image Credit: Beau Finely/Suns Cinema.

An unassuming two-story building on Pleasant St NW rolls indie films you've never heard of inside their eclectic theater. Assorted chairs occupy the screening room, including director chairs, crimson couches, and wing chairs. A narrow hallway paved with red carpet and plastered with movie posters leads to the screening room.

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47. Washington- The Grand Illusion Theater, Seattle

The Grand Illusion Theater, Seattle
Image Credit: The Grand Illusion Theater.

Floral scarlet lounge seats with embellished armrests rest in The Grand Illusion Cinema. A gray-shaded wooden plaque salutes customers before they gaze upon the iconic red entrance surrounded by pale blue paint and film reels attached above the door. 

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48. West Virginia- Floralee Hark Cohen Cinema, Charleston

Floralee Hark Cohen Cinema, Charleston
Image Credit: Floralee Hark Cohen Cinema.

Floralee Hark Cohen Cinema specializes in a bijou theater for a distinctive experience. The screening room holds a capacity of 29 with matching squishy seats. Floralee Hark Cohen created her cinema to spread her love of artistic cinema.

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49. Wisconsin- Cinematheque University Wisconsin Madison, Madison

Cinematheque University Wisconsin Madison, Madison
Image Credit: Jaden Baillie/Cinematheque University Wisconsin Madison.

Who is more qualified to find the greatest arthouse flicks than professors who devote their lives to the art and zealous film students? With free admission, the theatre opens doors to the public while projecting crisp quality, clear sound design, and heartfelt moving pictures. 

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50. Wyoming- Dogie Theatre, Newcastle

Dogie Theatre, Newcastle
Image Credit: Shirley Nelson/Dogie Theatre.

The Dogie Theatre's bull mascot enhances the neon-lit marquee. The single-screen theatre thumbs through popular films and only operates on the weekends, with showtimes beginning at 7 p.m. 

Visit the theatre.