Free Outdoor Movies for Kids in NYC this Summer
Enjoying a free alfresco film is a rite of summer in New York City. While most series aren't specifically aimed at children, most outdoor film festivals, including biggies like Bryant Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park's Syfy Movies With A View, include a family-friendly screening or two.
Movies begin at dusk between 8-8:30pm but make sure you arrive early: The well known series fill up fast. Plus, some of them offer cool, pre-movie entertainment.
So pack a picnic, bring your blanket, sit back, relax and enjoy the show at one of these outdoor summer movie series in NYC.
RiverFlicks for Kids – West Village
Fridays, July 13-August 24
Pier 46 in Hudson River Park, Charles and West Streets
This kid-centric series has a fantastic lineup featuring all of last year's big family hits: Kung Fu Panda 2 (Friday, July 13), Hugo (Friday, July 27), Puss in Boots (Friday, August 3), Rango (Friday, August 10) and The Smurfs (Friday, August 24). (Makes you wish you hadn't paid for them the first time around, huh?) There is also a RiverFlicks for Grown-Ups series at Pier 63 on Wednesdays, however, this year's offerings are all PG-13 and up.
Bryant Park Summer Film Festival – Midtown West
Mondays, June 18-August 20
Sixth Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets
This series' lineup of classic movies attracts serious cinephiles who very well may scoff if you bring your preschoolers. Aside from The Wizard of Oz on Monday, July 2, there aren't any little kid-friendly offerings this year. However, tweens and teens should enjoy '80s classic Raiders of the Lost Ark (Monday, August 20), adolescent-angst-filled Rebel without a Cause (Monday, July 30) and Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood (Monday, August 6). Warning: This one gets seriously crowded! Arrive when the lawn opens at 5pm if you want to snag a decent seat.
The Central Park Conservancy Film Festival – Upper West Side
Tuesday, August 21-Saturday, August 25
The area between Sheep Meadow and the 72nd Street Cross Drive
This year's theme is cult films and as such, most aren't particularly family-friendly. Pee-wee's Big Adventure on Wednesday, August 22 should be good for tweens and teens but the rest—Animal House, Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, The Big Lebowski—are strictly for adults.
Movies Under the Stars at Habana Outpost – Fort Greene
Sundays, May 20-October 28
757 Fulton Street between Oxford Street and Portland Avenue
The popular eco-eatery regularly hosts free community activities in its garden like this Sunday night movie series, which lasts well into the fall. The lineup is quite eclectic with a lot of good bets for tweens and teens like Karate Kid (Sunday, July 1), Princess Bride (Sunday, July 22), Billy Elliot (Sunday, August 26), Superman II (Sunday, September 9), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Sunday, October 21) and Ghostbusters (Sunday, October 28). Mary Poppins on Sunday, September 2 is of course good for all ages. Although the films are free, viewers are encouraged to buy food from the restaurant.
Intrepid Summer Movie Series – Midtown West
Fridays, July 13, 20, 27, August 3 and 17
Intrepid Air & Space Museum, Pier 86, 46th Street and Twelfth Avenue
The giant ship screens family blockbusters on its flight deck. This year's lineup includes Spider-Man (Friday, July 13), the recent Star Trek reboot (Friday, July 20), last fall's hit The Muppets (Friday, July 27), Jurassic Park (Friday, August 3) and '80s classic The Goonies (Friday, August 17). Doors open at 7:30pm
Movie Nights in Astoria Park – Astoria
Mondays, August 6-27
Astoria Park Lawn on Shore Boulevard between Hell Gate Bridge and the Pool
Little kids will love The Lion King (Monday, August 6) and Cars (Monday, August 13), and Footloose (Monday, August 24) is good for tweens.
Movies Under the Stars – Upper West Side
Wednesdays, July 11-August 15
Pier I in Riverside Park, 70th Street at the Hudson River
This year's theme is bicycles. There are many wonderful offerings for adults, including a few foreign films, but the best bets for kids are Pee-wee's Big Adventure (Wednesday, August 8) and Triplets of Belleville (Wednesday, August 15) for children old enough to read the subtitles.
Movies Under the Stars – Hoboken
Wednesdays, June 13-August 22
Hoboken Pier A Park, First Street and Frank Sinatra Drive
Across the water, flicks are screened in that other Hudson River park: Hoboken Pier A Park. If you're coming from Manhattan, just hop on the PATH train and then settle in for first-rate films. Offerings for families include Hugo (Wednesday, June 27), The Muppets (Wednesday, August 1), Toy Story 3 (Wednesday, August 8), the original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (Wednesday, August 15) and The Wizard of Oz (Wednesday, August 22).
Syfy Movies with a View – Dumbo
Thursdays, July 5-August 30
Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 1, Harbor View Lawn
Not only do you get a movie and a view, you also get complimentary pre-show entertainment like a DJ, and free valet bike parking courtesy of Transportation Alternatives. The only truly kid-friendly film in this year's lineup is E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial (Thursday, July 5) but many of the other mostly R-rated movies are great for date night.
Narrows Botanical Gardens Movie Nights – Bay Ridge
Fridays, June 29, July 13, August 3 and September 7
7200-7398 Shore Road
Didn't know that Brooklyn had another botanical garden, did you? This small green space hosts a quartet of free flicks, including The Adventures of Milo & Otis (Friday, July 13).
Outdoor Summer Movie Series – Roosevelt Island
Saturdays, June 30, July 7, 21, August 4 and 11
Southpoint Park on Roosevelt Island
Enjoy a daycation on the lovely isle and then end your visit with a free family flick by the water. Tween-friendly offerings include Captain America (Saturday, June 30) and Grease (Saturday, July 7), and all ages can enjoy The Lion King (Saturday, August 4).
RCN Movie Nights – Kips Bay
Mondays, August 6-27
Waterside Plaza, East River between 25th and 29th Streets
This high-rise apartment complex hosts four alfresco flicks in August and it looks like pirates are the theme. The series kicks off with the tween treasure hunters in The Goonies (August 6), continues with the Peter Pan-inspired Hook (August 13) followed by the 2003 film adaptation of Peter Pan, and ends with
Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Pearl (August 27). Seating is extremely limited and you should bring your own blankets or chairs.
SummerScreen – Williamsburg
July 11-August 15
McCarren Park, Bedford Avenue and North 12th Street
Tweens should get a kick out of Dirty Dancing (Wednesday, July 25) or The Princess Bride (Wednesday, August 1). Be warned: The fest is a little hipstery: Each movie is preceded by a local Brooklyn band and you may get sneered at for bringing junior along.
Summer Movie Night – Citywide
Tuesdays, June 5-July 24
The New York Restoration Project hosts family screenings in several of their NYC gardens. Enjoy complimentary popcorn as you settle in to watch family films including Toy Story in East Harlem (Tuesday, June 12), Who Framed Roger Rabbit in Inwood (Tuesday, June 19), Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in Staten Island (Tuesday, June 26), The Muppet Movie in Inwood (Tuesday, July 3), Despicable Me in Queens (Tuesday, July 10) and Wall-E in Brooklyn (Tuesday, July 24)
Rooftop Films at Bronx Terminal Market – the Bronx
Tuesdays, July 10, 24, August 7 and 21
610 Exterior Street
Held on the roof of the market’s parking deck, this series includes preshow activities that tie into the movies being screened, like tastings before the culinary cartoon Ratatouille (Tuesday, July 24). Other kid-friendly films include Rango (Tuesday, July 10) and Kung Fu Panda (Tuesday, August 21).
Red Hook Flicks – Red Hook
Tuesdays, July 10-August 28
Valentino Pier, Ferris Street between Coffey and Van Dyke Streets
Another fest aimed at adults, Red Hook Flicks does screen films that should please tweens and up, like movies we parents grew up with such as The Lost Boys (Tuesday, July 10) and E.T. (Tuesday, August 21), and recent family blockbuster How to Train Your Dragon (Tuesday, July 24). Plus the view can't be beat: New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty.
SummerStarz – Williamsburg
East River State Park, 90 Kent Avenue at North 8th Street
Thursdays, July 12-August 18 6-10pm
Local nonprofit Town Square organizes these outdoor family screenings, which are all preceded by live bands. This year's lineup includes a set by the Dirty Sock Trio followed by Puss in Boots (Thursday, July 19); Cincopath and then Robots (Thursday, July 26); the Brooklyn Wind Symphony followed by Kung Fu Panda 2 (Thursday, August 2) and the Rockdoves and Wall-E (Thursday, August 9).
Coney Island Flicks on the Beach – Coney Island
1001 Boardwalk West at West 10th Street
Mondays, July 2-August 6
End your fun-filled day at Coney Island with a free flick shown on a jumbo 40-foot screen by the ocean. There are only two little-kid friendly flicks in this summer's lineup, namely Ghostbusters (July 2) and The Muppets (July 23), but if your children are old enough to handle R rated films, it's worth browsing the full schedule.
Finally, while River to River: Movies on the Elevated Acre's schedule is up, none of its offerings are kid-friendly.
There are also random screenings in various city parks throughout the summer, so it's worth browsing the Parks Department's calendar.
For more seasonal happenings, check out our Summer Fun Guide.