11 NYC Spots Showing Outdoor Movies
Find that Snuggie you bought in 2009 and stash some gummy bears in your tote—you’re going to the movies, baby (sort of).
It’s summer, and the outside world beckons. So the next time you’re planning a date and you don't want to have spend the entire night explaining your questionable life choices, try one of these spots showing outdoor movies all summer long. Most of them have regularly scheduled weekly programming and plenty of snacks to eat while you watch.
Need more summer dining and drinking ideas? That’s kind of our thing.
Is it Thursday? Are you near the Navy Yard in Brooklyn? Have you only seen Almost Famous 12 times and need another hit? You should know about Rooftop Reds’ film series. Aside from growing their own grapes and producing surprisingly good grüner veltliner, this vineyard shows movies on Thursdays evenings and a few other one-off nights. Doors open 30 minutes before showtime, seats aren't assigned, and $25 gets you a movie ticket, two slices of pizza, and some popcorn. There’s a whole menu of wine and snacks to eat before (and during) the movie as well.
Some of the spots in this guide have a weekly showing or two, but Syndicated in Bushwick hosts free screenings on their sidewalk every single day at 9pm. (You can see the monthly schedule here.) Seats are first come, first served and you should get there before 8pm if you want to secure a spot. The outdoor set-up is covered in case it rains.
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Queens Botanical Garden
If you've ever wondered what it's like to be at the Queens Botanical Garden after hours, buy a ticket to one of their Movie Nights at the Garden screenings. The mostly family-friendly selection of movies start at 8:30pm, but they'll let you in as early as 7pm. There are no chairs on site, but you can bring your own blanket or foldable chair, and they have snacks and drinks available for purchase. Check out the full schedule and all pricing options here.
Social Drink and Food
Social Drink and Food is a rooftop in Midtown where you can watch movies this summer on a huge open terrace from wrap-around couches surrounded by fake grass. You can make reservations here, and shows start at 8:45pm, but you can arrive at 8pm to start ordering drinks and food like braised short rib bao buns and sweet chili chicken tacos. This season's lineup includes a film about Asians who are apparently crazy rich and one about a ship that hits an iceberg. (There was enough room for Jack on that piece of wood. Just saying.)
The Rooftop @ Pier 17
You can watch everything from old school classics like Space Jam to documentaries at Seaport Cinema, the summer movie series at The Rooftop @ Pier 17. Reservations are free, and they open up two weeks before each film's scheduled date. Doors open at 6pm, movies start at 7pm, and you're encouraged to bring your own blankets and chairs to this rooftop that has views of the Brooklyn Bridge and East River. Some snacks and drinks (including alcohol) are available for purchase, but we won't tell anyone if you sneak in some Skittles.
The name of this Gowanus spot alone should indicate to you that enjoyable things happen outdoors here. Along with serving a menu of cocktails and tacos, they host movie, trivia, and bingo nights in their backyard a few times a week. In the past they’ve screened things like Black Panther, Oscar-nominated animated shorts, Edward Scissorhands, and a few horror flicks for Halloween like Shaun Of The Dead and the presidential debates. There’s no ticket charge for any of the events (although food and drink purchases are required). This summer, starting on July 6 with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Parklife will be showing movies every Wednesday night at 9pm. (Day-of reservations and some walk-ins are accepted.) Check out the schedule here.
photo credit: Emily Schindler
Skylawn is a rooftop bar on the third floor terrace of the Embassy Suites on 37th Street that hosts Rooftop Cinema Club, an outdoor movie series that also takes place in other cities like Houston, LA, and London. Tickets cost $21.50-$28.50 depending on the time of your screening and the type of lounge chair you choose. (Seating is first come, first served like a Southwest Airlines flight.) This venue has a full bar and food menu, but you can also get candy and snacks that you would find at a regular movie theater.
Citizens Of Soho
After starting the successful Sunset Cinema Club in summer 2020, the Soho location of this Australian cafe is bringing back the series on Lafayette Street. In the past they’ve shown Australian films and classics like Ghostbusters, as well as Seinfeld and The Office TV marathons. You can find the full lineup here, and for $40, you get dinner, a cocktail and "a special surprise."
Nowadays is a great option if you're looking to watch something in Ridgewood. This massive outdoor spot has scheduled screenings of films like a documentary about drag queens participating in the 1967 Miss All-America Camp Beauty Contest in NYC. Tickets are often free, and you can reserve your spot on Resy here. If you get hungry, Nowadays serves food like edamame hummus, a wagyu burger, and chicken karaage nuggets.
If you have access to a car, consider heading to this Greenpoint spot right on the East River. They show a few different outdoor movies (including new releases) every day with screenings starting at 9pm. This summer, you can watch Tom Cruise recklessly demonstrate why he's (still) in the top one percent of all naval aviators. Each ticket costs $55 and covers your entire car up to seven people, but you can also show up without a car and pay $19.50 for an individual seat. Make a reservation here.
Every Monday night until August 15, Bryant Park is hosting its Movie Nights series. Films start at 8pm, but you can arrive as early as 5pm if you want to have a little pre-movie picnic on a blanket. (Note that all bags are inspected and chairs are not allowed.) If it sounds like too much trouble to bring your own stuff, you can purchase food, wine, and beer on site. This summer's lineup includes a bunch of sequels like Beverly Hills Cop 2, Grease 2, and The Godfather: Part II.