Outdoor movie nights in Los Angeles kick into high gear over the summer because it’s the perfect season for forgetting all about bedtime and curling up with your little film buffs for movies under the stars. BYOP (bring your own popcorn) and catch a flick al fresco anywhere from a battleship to a drive-in theater and oodles of parks in between. We’ve rounded up the best family-friendly flicks that also have a variety of food options so you can say ‘Yes!’ over and over again to outdoor movies all summer long.
The South Bay
Alfredo’s Beach Club
This is the West Coast so nothing screams summer more than a free moonlight movie on the beaches along the Pacific Ocean. Alfredo’s Beach Club hosts outdoor screenings at Granada Beach in Long Beach at dusk, or approximately 8 p.m. Movies are free, beach lot parking is free (after 6 p.m.), and amazing views of the ocean (while you experience movie magic) are, you guessed it, free!
Make a whole night of it and grab dinner before the show from any of the yummy food trucks on hand or hit up the snack shop for some of the best kettle corn around. Most selections are super kid-friendly for even the youngest viewers so rest assured there will be a little something for all ages!
When: Tues. and Thurs., Jun-Aug.
Battleship IOWA & Queen Mary
Battleship IOWA Movies Under the Guns: If naval battleships get your young cadets excited, take them to a free movie screening on board the decks of the USS Iowa in San Pedro and really blow their mini-minds! Families and kids are welcome aboard this colossal ship and seating is first-come, first served. Personal chairs and blankets are allowed, but no outside food or beverage is permitted so make sure to snag a snack at the concessions stand on site.
Movies are generally shown on Fri. nights, with boarding beginning at 7:30 p.m. and the movie beginning at 8:00 p.m.
The next screening is Jun. 21st with Ralph Breaks the Internet (check the website for additional dates as they are still being added).
When: Fri.; Jun.-Aug.
Queen Mary Movie Night Summer Series: In keeping with the boat theme, how about free movies against the backdrop of an 83-year-old luxury ocean cruise liner? Permanently retired since 1967 and docked in Long Beach, the majestic beauty of The Queen Mary is truly a sight to behold so the grassy lawn next to it is a perfect spot to watch some popular classics.
Blankets and lawn chairs are permitted, but no outside food or beverages (except for unopened water bottles) are allowed. Don't worry about your hangry hippos though as there will be food trucks on site (along with a full bar if you're so inclined). The event opens at 6:00 p.m., and movies begin at sundown.
Jun. 20th catch a double feature of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Grease is showing Jul. 11, and a double feature of Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands on Aug. 22nd.
Burton Chase Park Marina Movie Nights
Ship’s ahoy! Make way to this scenic park in Marina del Rey and enjoy “yachts” of free movies at 8 p.m. on select Sat. nights from Jul.– Sept. Pack up a picnic and warm blankets, as the marina can grow cold after the sun goes down.
No time to prepare your own basket of eats? Stop by the newly opened Trader Joes just down the street from the park and grab some goodies to go.
This year’s films will include superhero fun, like Aquaman and Black Panther, along with family classics, like The Wizard of Oz. Check the website for the full lineup. You can park at the venue, or offsite and ride the water bus for an added seafaring adventure that’s just $1 per person each way.
When: Sat., Jul.-Sept.
Central Park Bandshell in Playa Vista
Playa Vista (aka Silicon Beach) is one of the hottest growing neighborhoods on the Westside and their copious amount of outdoor park space is simply perfect for hosting free outdoor summer cinema! The giant screen is set up on the bandshell stage (which is a sight to behold in itself) and there are acres of lawn space on which to spread blankets.
If your mini movers aren't feeling like sitting still to watch the featured flick, set up along the outskirts of the crowds and let them run in the empty lawn spaces while the rest of you finish the movie. Add gourmet food trucks to this event and you've got the makings of a fun and easy night in la-la land.
This summer's film line up is Green Book, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Jumangi: Welcome To The Jungle.
When: Fri.; Jun. 21, Jul. 12 and Aug. 2
Silverlake Picture Show
In its sixth season, this free series on select Fri. at the Sunset Triangle Plaza features short films by local filmmakers as an amuse bouche before the featured flicks. This local favorite event starts around 6 p.m. and the screen lights up at dusk. Pack a picnic or grab a bite from some of the best eateries in town (Pine & Crane, Night and Market Song, Forage, Trois Familia and Pazzo Gelato, just to name a few) that are right nearby.
This year’s kid-friendly offerings include Selena and Coco.
When: Jun. 21 & Jul. 19
CSUN & Valley Cultural Center
CSUN Summer Movie Fest: Thurs. nights on the Oviatt Library Lawn feature free summer flicks that entertain, not only college students, but also the general public. Most of the offerings are kid-friendly and include newer releases, like How To Train Your Dragon 3, as well as well-loved classics, like The Parent Trap. The movies start at dusk and food trucks open at 5:30 p.m. for some better-than-cafeteria chow. Park on the street for free, or for $8 on campus.
When: Thurs.; Jun. 6–Aug. 22
Valley Cultural Center’s ‘Movies on the Green’: Light up the night at Warner Park in Woodland Hills on Sat. evenings this summer. These outdoor family films, including Ralph Breaks the Internet, Aquaman, Incredibles 2 and Mary Poppins Returns, are presented in fabulous high-tech fashion. You’ll enjoy the show on a 30-foot professional theatrical screen in the Lou Bradlow Pavillion with digital projection, surround sound and high-resolution digital picture. Pre-show entertainment begins at 7:15 p.m. and screenings start at dusk. The movies are free, but parking in the adjacent structure is $10. You can pack your eats or buy from the concessions stand in the park.
When: Sat., Jul. 20-Aug. 17
Paramount Drive-In Theatres
Although not strictly a summer event, piling pillows and blankets into the car to snuggle up for a drive-in movie is definitely a summertime must-do with kids. Watch out though; with its two 75-foot screens, digital projection, and reasonable prices, drive-ins may just become part of your regular, year-round movie-going experience.
Two features are shown per weeknight, and three on weekends, so if the small cinephiles are comfortably asleep, why not stay for the second feature? $10/person, $3.50 kids ages 5-8.
When: Daily, year-round
Chino Hills Movies in the Park
We haven’t forgotten the Inland Empire, where it stays warm much later into the evening, making it perfect for late night outdoor movies! Movies in the Park is an annual showing of eight family-friendly films at the Chino Hills Community Center Park. Bring your lawn chair and blankets and enjoy free flicks, like Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse, Incredibles 2 and throwback classics, like Honey I Shrunk The Kids. Pack a snack, or don’t bother as they’ll have some available for purchase. Movie showtimes begin approximately at 8 p.m. or dusk.
When: Thurs., Jul. 13- Aug. 8
Hollywood Bowl & Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Hollywood Bowl Movies in Concert: Summer at the Bowl is always a hotbed of unique entertainment and movie nights are some of their most popular offerings! In Jun. and Aug., the Hollywood Bowl will feature both Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix and Jurassic Park playing a big screen along with the LA Philharmonic's live accompaniment of those films' instrumental music scores (talk about win-win!). Throw in the fan favorite Sound of Music sing-a-long in Sept. and your family has super fun film options all summer all taking place at one of Los Angeles's most iconic event venues! Check the website for ticket prices as they vary depending on seat location.
When: Sat.; Jun. 29 and Aug.17
Hollywood Forever Cemetery Cinespia: Owing to their location at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, this series started out years ago showing mainly horror films but has now branched out into broader categories and includes older kid-pleasers like Jaws and Reality Bites. This ticketed series sells out fast and gets packed, so buy your tickets well in advance and plan to arrive early. With the photo booths, pre-show DJs and costumed patrons to check out, there is plenty to keep everyone entertained while you wait for dusk. It’s a true Hollywood experience, and is a favorite of ours but probably better suited towards tweens and teens so best check out the lineup ahead of time. Ticket prices and showtimes vary according to the event, so check the website for details.
When: Sat., Jun.-Jul.
Eat. See. Hear. & Street Food Cinema
Eat. See. Hear.: Here you get your whole evening planned for you: dinner (food trucks), a live show (a different band every night) and a movie. Bands start at 7 p.m. and movies begin at 8:30 p.m. They change locations weekly, so at some point this summer, one of these movies will be coming to a park near you. Check the website for age-appropriate titles for your flock, like the original Willy Wonka, The Greatest Showman, and Mrs. Doubtfire.
Tickets cost $8 for kids ages 5–12 while adults are $14, and kids under 5 are free. Or be a big spender and opt for the roped off $21 seats, which means you can sneak in just as the movie starts and still snag one of the best spots in front of the house. Hey, sometimes it’s worth it, to not have to entertain the munchkins for an extra 2 hours.
When: Sat., May 18-Sept. 14
Street Food Cinema: This Sat. night event comes with extras: For one price, you get the movie plus music and access to trendy food trucks. You can check the scheduled lineup of food trucks online prior to the event to minimize the kiddo's picky palate potential. Bring your own beach chairs and blankets and make it a picnic while listening to the band before the show. Family-friendly picks across the city include A League of Their Own in Glendale, The Goonies in Culver City, and Ghostbusters in Manhattan Beach.
If you purchase in advance (highly recommended), reserved tickets for premium seats are $19 for adults; $11 for kids 6-12 while general admission is $14 for adults and $6 for children ages 6-12.
When: Sat., May 18-Oct. 26
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—Shahrzad Wartenkin & Jenifer Scott