Summer is busy: driving to camps, hauling beach equipment, cleaning up after backyard barbecues; once in a while it's nice to just sit back and relax as a family. And what's better than a movie the entire family can enjoy? A free family-friendly movie. There are some terrific, free (or nearly free) summer movie series running throughout Connecticut this summer - both indoors and outdoors - so grab a chair or a blanket, and catch up on the latest releases, or listen to the kids giggle once more over familiar characters.
Outdoor Movies at Shady Beach
In July and August, enjoy a family-favorite movie every Saturday night. Admission is free for Norwalk residents with beach stickers; for everyone else, it's $10.
Canfield Avenue, Norwalk
Summer Films at Bow Tie Cinemas
Every Tuesday and Wednesday through August 16, the BowTie Cinema Kids' Club offers one free child-friendly film in the comfort of an air conditioned theater. Seats are first come, first served, and doors open at 9 a.m. The movie begins at 10 a.m.
5 Landmark Square (in Stamford Town Center), Stamford
Summer Films at Marquis 16
Every Tuesday and Wednesday through August 17, the BowTie Cinema Kids' Club offers one free child-friendly film. Bonus: comfy seats and air conditioning. Tickets are first come, first served, and doors open at 9 a.m. The movie starts at 10 a.m.
100 Quarry Road, Trumbull
Bookworm Wednesday Movies
Kids who bring a completed book report receive free admission (younger siblings and parents included) to the movie of the day. Details have not yet been released for the summer 2017 schedule as of mid June.
286 Canfield Avenue, Bridgeport
Sand Jam and Family Movie Nights
On several Fridays in June and July, and a Thursday in August, Jennings Beach hosts a family Sand Jam that features music beginning at 6:30 p.m., followed by a summer movie at dusk. Parking is free if you have a Fairfield beach sticker; otherwise, it costs $20 per car.
880 South Benson Road, Fairfield
Friday Fun Films
Throughout the summer, Westport Library offers short films for preschoolers and their caregivers. A detailed scheduled has not yet been released.
20 Jessup Road, Westport
Movie Nights Under The Stars
The leafy green town of Easton offers a monthly Movie Under the Stars on two Friday nights in July and a teen movie night in August, at Aspetuck Park. Arrive early for bounce house and hoopla fun.
369 Black Rock Road, Easton
Cinemas on the Sound
Enjoy three outdoor movies this summer, beginning in July. Arrive early to get a good seat, eat, play, and mingle with your neighbors.
177 Rowaynton Avenue, Rowaynton
BowTie Cinema Summer Kids Series
Every Tuesday and Wednesday through August 16, the BowTie Cinema Kids' Club offers one free child-friendly film. Seats are first come, first served, and doors open at 9 a.m. The movie starts at 10 a.m.
333 New Park Avenue, Hartford
Teen Movie Mondays
Avon Free Public Library will be showing three teen friendly movies in July. Bring a snack and enjoy the show.
281 Country Club Road, Avon
Music and Movies
If you need Saturday night plans in July and August, pack a beach chair and a snack, and head to The Shoppes at Farmington Valley for free movies, music, and entertainment.
110 Albany Turnpike, Canton
Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse
Make it a fun summer at the movies. The movies are not free, but at $1 per ticket, or $5 for 10 movies, they come close. Showings are scheduled from June through August and include popular hits such as Sing, Trolls, Goosebumps, and The Secret Life of Pets.
90 Elm Street, Enfield; or, 99 Redstone Drive, Manchester
Movies at the Southington Drive-In
This is also not a free night at the movies, but for $15 (cash only) a carload, it's a great deal ($10 for residents). Pack up your family and friends, and make it a great evening. Saturdays from June through September, enjoy family-favorites like Moana, Spaceballs, The Goonies, and The Peanuts Movie.
935 Meriden-Waterbury Parkway, Southington
New Haven County
The Grassy Strip Family Movie Festival
The Madison Beach Hotel offers a fun Tuesday Night Family Film series that is open to all - guests and non-guests alike. In July and August, sit back and enjoy films including Queen of Katwe, Finding Dory, and Beauty and the Beast.
94 West Wharf Road, Madison
Every Friday the New Haven Parks Department offers free family movies at rotating parks throughout the city. Bring a blanket and a picnic, and have a fantastic summer at the movies, including Footloose, Angels in the Outfield, Cars, and Field of Dreams.
Various locations, New Haven
Movie and Munchies
Cheer Moana and peek in at the Secret Life of Pets. Enjoy afternoon movies every Wednesday throughout the summer. Lunch for children will be provided.
63 Huntington Street, New London
Free Outdoor Movies
Bring a chair or a blanket, gather your family and friends, and enjoy a movie under the stars. Popcorn will be served. The feature presentations are held Friday, June 30, and Friday, August 18, beginning at 7:30 p.m. A special "Dive-In" movie night will be held, Friday, July 1, at Middletown Veterans Pool.
61 Durant Avenue, Middletown
Beach Blanket Movie Nights
Head to the boardwalk at Ocean Beach Park every Tuesday night through August. Although not entirely free, admission to each movie is only $6 per car.
98 Neptune Avenue, New London
Teen Movie Night
From the end of June through August, teens are invited to a free movie night every Tuesday. Parents can relax with a good book while their children enjoy blockbusters like Rogue One, Doctor Strange, and Beauty and the Beast (2017 edition).
40 Library Street, Mystic
Friday Family Movie
Gather the family and escape into air conditioning for Saturday afternoon matinees all summer long. Bond over The Wild Life, Storks, and Rock Dog.
40 Library Street, Mystic
Pleasant Valley Drive-In Carload Night
Thursday night is carload night at the Pleasant Valley Drive-In. It's not quite free, but you can pack as many people into your car as you like for $20. Bonus: pets are welcome. Cash only.
47 River Road, Barkhamsted
Originally published 06.14.15
Photo courtesy of Ally Noel