There’s something magical about a night under the stars watching your favorite family flick. This summer brings Finding Dory, Moana, LEGO Batman and more to a park near you. Bundle the little buddies up in some cozy jammies and pack the popcorn for a night they won’t forget. We’ve rounded up loads of Bay Area options to make it easier for you to plan your next outdoor film night. Scroll down for the schedule!

Photo: Film Night in the Park

San Francisco

Three San Francisco parks play host to this year’s Film Night in the Park series – a summertime tradition attended by thousands of moviegoers since its start in 2003. Getting there early will give you the best chance of a good view as these events get pretty crowded. This year’s schedule and locations:

July 15 – Beauty and the Beast, Union Square
August 5 – Footloose, Dolores Park
August 26 – La La Land, Washington Square Park
September 9 – The Graduate, Union Square
September 23 – The Breakfast Club, Dolores Park


Dining: A block from Dolores Park, stop by Bi-Rite Market or Dolores Park Café for a quick and tasty bite to go. Bring along an extra grown-up to wait in line at the Bi-Rite Creamery right on the corner of 18th and Dolores. At Union Square, grab a meal to go at The Cellar at Macy’s (or skip directly to dessert at the Tout Sweet Patisserie).

Presidio Outdoor Movie Night
Grab a blanket and head to the Civil War Parade Gounds on Graham Street for some food trucks and an outdoor movie. July’s film is still TBD so check here closer to July 21 for the selection. Food trucks arrive at 5:30 p.m., movie shorts start at 7:30 p.m. and the feature film begins at 8 p.m.

Movie Nights at Pier 39
As part of the Pier 39 is 39 celebration, on the last Friday of the month, head to Pier 39 for some family-friendly flicks. Grab some eats at one of the many spots on the pier and arrive early to select a prime spot and possibly win some prizes. The films start at sundown.

June 30 – The Parent Trap
July 28 – Mrs. Doubtfire
August 25 – Inside Out
September 29 – The Pursuit of Happyness

outdoormoviePhoto credit: waferboard via Flickr 

East Bay

The EB hamlet of Danville presents Moonlight Movies on the Town Green on Friday nights. Sweltering East Bay days usually mean blissfully warm summer evenings, so no need to swap out the shorts and t-shirts for this post-sunset excursion. The best part just might be the kids crafts and activities starting at 6:30 and running up until movie time (sundown). This year’s movies:

July 14 – Beauty and the Beast
July 28 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
August 11 – Finding Dory

Dining: Chow Danville (part of the Park Chow clan) is open late and offers American/California cuisine with lots of options for the kiddos. Or grab a slice to-go from Blue Line Pizza.

Jack London Square hosts Waterfront Flicks on Thursdays throughout the summer. Get there early to play trivia games or take in the waterfront. This year’s picks include:

July 6 – Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
July 20 – Dirty Dancing
August 3 – Selena
August 17 – Moana

Dining: Right at Jack London Square, you will find lots of dining options, from takeout to food trucks to sit-down dinner.

Redwood Heights Recreation Center (Oakland) 
Oakland residents can enjoy Movies in the Park beginning at dusk. Bring your own food from home or enjoy popcorn and hot chocolate for sale. This summer’s movies are:

July 14 – Secret Life of Pets
August 25 – Sing
September 8 – Jungle Book
September 22 – Dr. Strange
October 6 – Star Wars Rogue One
October 13 – Goosebumps

Hayward and Vicinity
Various venues in and near Hayward host free outdoor flicks as a part of Outdoor Movies Around the District. Festivities start at 6 p.m. with music, local vendors and the mobile recreation program. Movies begin a dusk.

July 14 – Moana, Adobe Park in Castro Valley
August 5 – Fantastic Beasts, Rowell Ranch
August 26 – Star Wars the Force Awakens, Meek Park
September 26 – Beauty and the Beast, Adobe Park in Castro Valley

Redwood city movie

Photo credit: Redwood City


Redwood City
Redwood City offers Movies on the Square, located right in the middle of town at the quaint Courthouse Square in front of City Hall. Movie nights here are super kid-friendly and well attended. Camp chairs are allowed at this venue. The 2017 lineup, which includes some vintage films along with newer hits, goes through August 31 when we get some of our best summer weather. All movies are Thursdays at sundown. Check here for the full list. Top kid picks include:

July 6 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
July 20 – The Princess Bride
July 27 – Moana
August 10 – Finding Dory

Dining: Downtown Redwood City has a number of restaurants a mere stone’s throw away so grab some take-out and head over. Just take note that there are a limited number of tables and chairs available on the Square. Right on Broadway you’ll find the kid-friendly Old Spaghetti Factory with pastas and salads served family style. A few blocks away try The Sandwich Spot, open from 10 a.m. – 12 a.m. and specializing in sandwiches and build-your-own salads.

Photo: In the Park After Dark

South Bay

San Jose
Throughout the summer, the South Bay parks come alive with In the Park After Dark Movie Night—a movie marathon sponsored by the Santa Clara County Parks.  At some locations food vendors will be available. There is a $6 parking fee to enter the parks. The summer schedule is:

July 7 – Star Wars the Force Awakens, Ed Levin County Park
July 8 – Storks, Martial Cottle County Park
July 14 – The Good Dinosaur, Hellyer County Park
July 15 – LEGO Batman, Coyote Creek County Park
July 21 – A Dog’s Purpose, Anderson Lake County Park
August 4 – Inside Out, Alviso Marina County Park
August 5 – Coyote Creek Parkway
August 12 – Ghostbusters, Martial Cottle County Park
August 18 – Sing, Anderson Lake County Park
August 19 – Fantastic Beasts, Hellyer County Park
September 2 – Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Coyote Creek Parkway
September 22 – Beauty and the Beast, Anderson Lake County Park

Evergreen Village Square Music & Movie Nights (San Jose) 
This darling downtown again plays host to Friday music and movie nights this summer. Music starts at 6 p.m. and the movies begin after dark. Come early to enjoy the wine stroll (with strollers) and enjoy some eats at Village Grill or froyo from YooGool Yogurt.

July 14 – LEGO Batman
August 4 – Movie TBD, check here for more info

From July through mid-August, Sunnyvale hosts outdoor movie nights every Friday at various parks throughout the city. This summer’s flicks are:

July 7 – Secret Life of Pets, Cuesta Park
July 14 – Sing, Sylvan Park
July 21 – Moana, Eagle Park
July 28 – LEGO Batman, Stevenson Park
August 4 – Trolls, Whisman Park 
August 11 – Finding Dory, Rengstorff Park

Saratoga’s El Quito Park is once again hosting its summer movie series on the third Friday of the month. Event begins at 7:30 p.m. and the shows start at dusk.

July 21 – The Secret Life of Pets
August 18 – Fiding Dory

Dining: Head to nearby El Paseo de Saratoga where there are many kid-friendly options including Pizza My Heart and Red Robin.

Santa Cruz
Enjoy free movies on the beach at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk on Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. Bring a blanket or low-backed chair, grab some funnel cake or a corn dog and settle in for a night the kids won’t forget. The summer line-up is:

June 21 – The Lost Boys – 30th Anniversary Event
June 28 – Back to the Future
July 5 – Grease
July 12 – Gremlins
July 19 – Clueless
July 26 – Shrek
August 2 – Ghostbusters
August 9 – The Little Rascals
August 16 – The Princess Bride

Photo: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Marin County

New for 2017 – enjoy a double feature every Wednesday night at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. when the Marin Country Mart in Larkspur presents Movies on the Green. Kids can sit on mini-directors chairs on the lawn while parents can sit back on blankets and picnic and chat. The schedule this year includes a combo of kid movies and Wes Anderson movies:

July 5 – LEGO Movie / Bottle Rocket
July 12 – Winnie the Pooh / The Royal Tenenbaums
July 19 – A Bug’s Life / The Life Aquatic
July 26 – Wall-E / The Darjeeling Limited
August 2 – Toy Story / Moonrise Kingdom
August 9 – Bee Movie / Grand Budapest Hotel
August 16 – Fantastic Mr. Fox / Fantastic Mr. Fox
August 23 – Up / Wes Anderson Documentary
August 30 – The Little Mermaid / Series of Shorts

Dining: You don’t have to go far for a bevy of awesome choices, since this is right at the Mart. Try take out from BelcampoRustic Bakery, or El Harache Loco.

Tips and Tricks

  1. Bring a flashlight for walking out at the end of the night, especially if you’ll be carrying tired little ones through the park. Headlamps are super handy.
  2. Leave strollers and taller chairs at home; unless otherwise mentioned they probably aren’t allowed. Bring plenty of blankets and low-back chairs. Camping pads make it extra comfy.
  3. Check with the venue’s policy about dogs (some parks do not allow dogs).
  4. Put the kiddos in PJ’s before you get there – makes it easier to roll them into bed when you get home.
  5. Bring in the majority of your food/dinner to make it easy to settle in with the kids. If your venue offers food vendors, bring cash as some don’t take plastic.
  6. Make a donation. These are free events, but they do cost money to run. Even $1 helps make sure families can enjoy these evenings summer after summer.

Are you gearing up for Finding Dory or Ghostbusters? Let us know in the comments below!

—Kate Loweth & Amber Guetebier