Summer is the perfect season to postpone bedtime and treat your kids to one of LA’s outdoor movie nights. For 2019, al fresco film showings include classics like the original Willy Wonka and Parent Trap, along with new favorites like Coco and Incredibles 2. Read on for our complete neighborhood-by-neighborhood summer cinema guide, including insider tips on what to pack, where to park, and more.
Playa Vista Movies in the Park: Playa Vista is one of the hottest growing neighborhoods on the Westside, and with plenty of green space, it's an obvious venue for outdoor summer movie-going. The giant screen is set up on the Central Park Bandshell stage and there are acres of lawn space to spread blankets.
If your little ones tend to get antsy during movies, set up along the outskirts of the crowds where there's plenty of room to tun. Add gourmet food trucks to this event and you've got the makings of a fun and easy night.
This summer's line-up has these PG and PG-13 offerings: Green Book, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle.
When: Fri., Jun. 21, Jul. 12 and Aug. 2
Burton Chace Park Marina Movie Nights: Make your 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 include superhero fun with Aquaman and Black Panther, along with family classics like The Wizard of Oz. You can park at the venue or offsite and ride the water bus for an added seafaring adventure that’s just $1 each way.
When: Sat., Jul.-Sept.
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 venue will feature both Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix and Jurassic Park, both with the LA Philharmonic's live accompaniment. And don't forget the Sound of Music sing-a-long happening in Sept. Check the website for ticket prices as they vary depending on seat location.
When: Sat., Jun. 29, Aug.17, & Sep. 21
Hollywood Forever Cemetery Cinespia: While this series started out showing mainly horror flicks (it's in a cemetery, after all), it now 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.
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 and Mary Poppins Returns—are presented in fabulous high-tech fashion. The show is presented on a 30-foot professional theatrical screen, 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. Pack your eats or buy from the concessions stand in the park.
When: Sat., Jul. 20-Aug. 17
Silver Lake Picture Show: In its sixth season, this free series takes place on select Fri. nights in Silverlake's Sunset Triangle Plaza. Pre-show music starts around 7 p.m. and the screen lights up at dusk (approximately 8 p.m.), with a short film by a local filmmaker followed by the feature film. Pack a picnic and BYOB (bring your own blanket).
So far, this year’s kid-friendly offerings include Selena and Coco.
When: Jun. 21 & Jul. 19
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? The cost is $10/person and $3.50 for kids ages 5-8.
When: Daily, year-round
The South Bay
Alfredo’s Beach Club Moonlight Movies on the Beach: This being SoCal, nothing says summer like a moonlight screening on the beach. Alfredo’s Beach Club hosts outdoor screenings at Granada Beach in Long Beach at dusk (approximately 8 p.m.). Movies are free, beach 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 food trucks on hand, or hit up the snack shop for some of the best kettle corn around. Showings this summer include The Little Mermaid, Coco, and more kid-friendly flicks.
When: Tues. and Thurs., Jun.-Aug.
Battleship IOWA Movies Under the Guns: If naval battleships get your young cadets excited, take them to a free movie screening aboard the decks of the USS IOWA in San Pedro. 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 drinks are 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 starting at 8:00 p.m.
The next screening is Jun. 21 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 Queen Mary is a sight to behold, so the grassy lawn next to it is a perfect spot to watch some old favorites.
While outside food and drinks (except for unopened water bottles) aren't allowed, there will be plenty of 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.
On Jun. 20, 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. 22.
When: Thurs., Jun.-Aug.
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
Feature photo: iStock
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—Shahrzad Wartenkin & Jenifer Scott