If there’s one thing that is most unique about US driving culture, it is drive-thrus. You can find a drive-thru window or service at a surprising range of businesses from fast food to liquor stores to wedding chapels. Some of the places where you can drive up and take care of business are useful, others are meant to save time, and others just seem strange. But if you’ve ever wanted to get an errand done without leaving your vehicle, then the US is the place to do it.
The bank drive-thru may only exist in certain parts of the US, in small towns and cities. In the 1980s and ’90s, it was common for banks in colder climates to have drive-thru lanes with pneumatic tubes where you could deposit a check or take care of other business from the comfort of your vehicle. And drive-up ATMs are still common, making it easier for those with mobility issues to take out cash or deposit money.
Usefulness: You can do some banking tasks or withdraw and deposit money without having to find a parking spot or wait in line.
Pharmacies with drive-thru windows are not found everywhere, but they are in places with colder climates or a large elderly population. This is mostly meant for picking up a prescription that you’ve already ordered, not doing your weekly shopping.
Usefulness: You only need to pick up a prescription and pay for it, and don’t want to wait in line behind a bunch of people.
3. Fast Food
Restaurants with drive-thru windows can be found pretty much everywhere across the United States. The only exception might be in the center of large cities like New York, although if you go to the outer boroughs they exist. You can get Mexican food, burgers, hot dogs, ice cream, fried chicken, and pretty much every other kind of food you can think of from a drive-thru window.
Usefulness: The drive-thru for food is useful when you’re in a hurry, are on a road trip and plan to eat in the car, or have kids with you and just don’t want to deal with getting everyone in and out of the vehicle.
4. Liquor Store
This one is controversial, and of course, no one should consume any alcohol they’ve bought until they are out of the vehicle. However, there are some cases when being able to pick up some alcoholic beverages from your car is ideal.
Usefulness: You are having a party and need to get an array of beverages and are short on time. You are going to someone’s home for dinner and completely forgot to get a bottle of wine. Here’s where it comes in handy to swing through the drive thru and get what you need in a hurry.
5. Coffee Shop
Not only do many coffee shops have drive-thru windows, but there are also some that ONLY have drive-up service. Yes, part of the appeal of getting coffee from a shop is to sit there and drink at a leisurely pace. But sometimes you need some caffeine on your way to work, or while running other errands.
Usefulness: Pick up coffee or other drinks without getting out of your vehicle if you don’t have time to park and go inside.
6. Flower Shop
This one is not very common but does exist. Like most of the others on this list, this one is meant for convenience and if you only need to pick up a bouquet that you’ve pre-ordered.
Usefulness: You ordered some flowers and need to pick them up, but also have other errands to complete and don’t want to leave them in a hot or cold vehicle. Cruise through the drive-thru and check this task off your list.
We’ve already gone through the many kinds of drive-thrus you can find that strive to make your life easier and, in many cases, you can get things done faster. But there are others that are just plain quirky and maybe only one or a few exist. Here are some to look out for on your travels in the US.
7. Funeral Home
This one sounds really strange, but the idea behind it is to let people grieve in peace away from others if they choose to. You are not actually attending a funeral through a drive-thru window, rather viewing a deceased person through a window. There is currently one in operation in Michigan, but the first one appeared at a funeral home in Atlanta in 1968. You drive up to the window of the former bank, where the curtains on the window are triggered to open, and you have 3 minutes to pay your respects to the deceased. You can even drop a card in a slot on the side of the funeral home and sign a guest book.
8. Wedding Chapel
Where else could you get a drive-thru wedding than in Las Vegas? A couple of the most famous such wedding chapels like the “Tunnel of Love” at A Little White Wedding Chapel, and The Fast Lane. In Pigeon Forge, Tennessee you can get hitched at the Wedding Bell Chapel drive-thru service. If you are looking at getting married on a budget without friends or family present, this option is for you.
People outside of the US might think this is the ultimate in American laziness. But the concept of having a drive-up place for people to drop their ballots is meant to help people with mobility issues. Some places in California, Oregon, and Hawaii already offer this service. In many cases, you must pre-register to vote this way, much the same as you would for an absentee or early voting ballot.
10. Frozen Daiquiris
This one exists in New Orleans, where sometimes rules that apply in other parts of the US don’t. Yes, it is illegal to drive or be in a car with an open container in Louisiana. But the many drive-thru daiquiri establishments get around the rules by serving frozen alcoholic drinks with lids, therefore avoiding the whole “open” part of the open container law. These drive-thrus serving slushy drinks are such an institution that they are unlikely to be shut down anytime soon. Just don’t drink your purchases until you get where you’re going!