There's something just totally magical about outdoor movies. Maybe it's just that we don't get to go out after dark that much any more since becoming parents, but sitting outside on a summer evening in New York under the stars and relaxing to enjoy a movie is just the kind of old fashioned, yet hip, kind of fun we love.
It's the best way for grown ups to go see kid movies because you can just enjoy being out on a nice summer evening with a nice picnic and the stars even if you don't care for the film. And, depending on your kids, it can be a great way to get out to see a grown up movie without spending the college savings on a sitter, as many kids will enjoy the classic films frequently shown or will just enjoy being out at night enough to sit (or sleep) through it.
Here's a rundown of the best free outdoor movies for kids in NYC this summer:
RiverFlicks in the Hudson River Park is the only kid-only film series. Shown at Pier 46 on Fridays, the 2007 series will be Charlotte's Web, Open Season, Back to the Future, Babe, Wizard of Oz, Happy Feet, and Willy Wonka. Grown-up movies are shown on Wednesdays at Pier 54 and a few, such as Rocky Balboa, Nacho Libre, Stripes and Superman Returns, might work for kids.
Bryant Park Film Festival shows classic films that many kids will at least tolerate if not enjoy. Not all of them are appropriate, but kids might like The Thing-From Another World, Paper Moon, The Sting, Bus Stop or Casablanca. You can buy a picnic dinner at kiosks and the park is a wireless hotspot to help pass the time while reserving your spot. Films are free every Monday starting June 18th.
Movies with a View, at the Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park under the Brooklyn Bridge, has some real winners for family movie viewers, including The Princess Bride, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Muppets Take Manhattan, Hair, The Natural, and West Side Story. The setting is lovely, there's DJ music to entertain you while you wait for the movie to start and child-friendly food from RICE restaurant is available. Free films are on Thursdays in July and August.
Celebrate Brooklyn at the Prospect Park Bandshell only has three films this summer, but all are accompanied by live music adding an additional level of magic. Another nice thing about this venue is that the screen is so large that you can sit back on the lawn behind the general audience and little kids can run around and play. The best bet for kids would be the Laurel and Hardy shorts.
Movies Under the Stars are shown in that other Hudson River Park, Hoboken Pier A Park. If you're coming from Manhattan just hop on the PATH train and watch films like Happy Feet, Flushed Away, and Charlotte's Web with Manhattan as your backdrop. Films are shown on Wednesdays beginning June 13th.
Summer on the Hudson shows films on Wednesdays at Pier 1 in Riverside Park South (72nd St) in July and August. All the films offered require parental discretion, but the best bets for kids would be North by Northwest, Caddy Shack, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.