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Outdoor movies: Best open-air places to watch movies in LA

Love outdoor movies? Enjoy summer nights with this guide to the best places to watch films under the stars.

Photo courtesy Cinespia at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Outdoor movies combine two obvious things about LA and the people who live here: we're really into film and we love being outside, whether it's for working out, hitting the beach or dining rooftop. Makes sense, right? This summer, add outdoor movies to your list of budget-friendly things to do in LA. Here's your guide to the best spots to watch outdoor screenings of classics and new releases under the stars, for all ages. Be sure to check back for updates on the list—seems like at least one or two new outdoor movie series pops up every summer.

Street Food Cinema

For your one-stop-shop in LA summer entertainment, follow the food trucks. Saturday evenings throughout August, Street Food Cinema throws together an epic outdoor party, complete with live music, tasty street fare, and a screening of your favorite movie—this year's lineup includes Monty Python, Mean Girls, and a slew of other not-to-be-missed flicks. Most showings are held on the spacious lawn at Exposition Park. But locations vary from week to week, so make sure to double check before schlepping your dog, friends and a picnic spread Downtown. Parking is available in their nearby lot for $10 a pop. Plus, for parties over ten, contact the office to receive a special group discount.

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Various locations in L.A. Saturday May 2 2015 - Saturday October 31 2015

Electric Dusk Drive-In

This funky drive-in shows two movies a month in the heart of Downtown, as well as private screenings and special events. You can park and enjoy the movie from your car, or grab an astroturf ticket to sit on the "grass" (bring lawn chairs, blankets, etc.). You'll also get a snack order sheet (including BBQ and gourmet cookies) when you arrive, which you can fill out and hand back to your carhop, who'll bring your order right to you. As if this didn't sound cool enough already, the drive-in is also pet-friendly, so bring your pups!

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Alcove Cafe and Big Bar’s Walk-In Movie Nights

Trade in your popcorn and ten-gallon Coke for a craft cocktail and artisan plate at the summer outdoor movie screening presented by Los Feliz's Big Bar at Alcove Cafe. On the third Monday of each month, grab a gaggle of drinking buddies and head to the garden patio's 17-foot screen, where favorite films like Fight Club and Swingers are paired with cocktails inspired by the night's feature flick. Admission is free, and seating is first-come, first-serve. So come early, and come thirsty.

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Alcove Café and Bakery Until Mon Sep 15 Free

Eat | See | Hear

Critics' pick

Stimulate all of your senses at this summer-long festival celebrating food, film and music. Every Saturday, Eat | See | Hear will set up camp at a different LA location and project a cult classic film on a huge 3 ½-story-tall inflatable HD screen (the biggest of its kind on the West Coast). Accompanying the movies are performances by local buzz bands, as well as lots of food trucks to keep lines short and options aplenty. Bring a blanket or low lawn chair, some snacks if you prefer to save those extra bucks, and feel free to bring your (leashed) furry friend along— free dog biscuits are available at the entrance.

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LA State Historic Park Until Sat Sep 13

Movies in the Park

Ahhhhh. A civilzed Sunday event to cure that wicked weekend hangover, Bouchon Bistro Beverly Hills' free outdoor movie screening kicks off every other Sunday this summer at 8pm. Pack a picnic or spring for the bistro's special Sunday Supper as you screen a family-friendly flick on a drive-in-size screen at the restaurant's adjacent park. You can also pick up a pre-movie cocktail or snack from Bar Bouchon, not to mention the scrumptious bakery treats on sale throughout the film. There's even free parking for the event, making your Sunday night in Beverly Hills a total cakewalk.

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Bouchon - Beverly Hills Details for 2014 TBA Free

Moonlight Movies on the Beach

The best things in life really are free—love, happiness, and an evening spent watching movies on a giant inflatable screen at the beach. On select dates from now until August, pack up your folding chairs, grab your kids and head to Long Beach for this unique outdoor screening. Thanks to Alfredo's Beach Clubs, you can give your babysitter the night off, while you and the fam enjoy a host of kid-friendly flicks, from Monsters University to Frozen. Bring your own picnic, or munch on eats from the nearby snack stand. Exact screening locations vary from week to week, so make sure you consult the schedule before piling into the hatchback.

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Various locations in L.A. Until Tue Sep 9 Free

Movies Under the Stars

Critics' pick

Why stay in with a movie when you can enjoy one outside on a warm summer night, just across the street from the Pacific? Head to Malibu Country Mart after sundown for their second annual outdoor summer movie screenings on the lawn. The three-part series includes Pixar favorite Finding Nemo (June 20), the timeless Back to the Future (July 12) and fantasy film Neverending Story (August 3). All you have to do is show up with a blanket, picnic gear (we suggest a bottle of wine) and something cozy, and the rest is taken care of. The Mart's fancy-pants mouth-watering restaurants, Taverna Tony, Mr. Chow and Tra di Noi will be open late and serving up food during the movie, for those who arrive with empty stomachs. And that's not even the best part—all movies will be free and open to all.

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Malibu Country Mart Until Sun Aug 3 Free

Movies on the green

Summer outdoor movie screenings are back this year at the Americana at Brand. Every Tuesday this July, the Americana will show some of your favorite movies past and present on the big screen: Frozen, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Clueless and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. But leave your chairs at home for this one, because only blankets are allowed—on the plus side, your view won't be blocked by a family sitting on fold-up chairs. Your $10 ticket also includes dinner from The Melt Truck's selection of grilled cheese sandwiches (available July 8 and July 22) or Katsuya's grilled sliders (July 15 and July 29). If you're looking for the VIP treatment, which includes popcorn, treats from candy boutique Sugarfina and a first-class view of the screen, go ahead and buy the pre sale-only VIP tickets for $15 (just $5 more than GA).

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The Americana at Brand Until Tue Jul 29

Cinespia Cemetery Screenings

Critics' pick

It isn't summer in LA until hoards of movie-lovers flock to Hollywood Forever cemetery, toting folding chairs, picnic blankets, snack spreads and lots of booze. Each year, Cinespia brings classic cult favorites (The Warriors, Hitchcock's The Birds, Wet Hot American Summer, etc.) to the hallowed resting place of such Hollywood greats as Rudolph Valentino and Bugsy Siegel. An inspired concept, and one Angelenos line up for hours to partake in, it's also an LA rite of passage, a quintessential summer experience and one of the best film venues in the city. Just be sure to get your ticket early, arrive early, pee early... it's getting a bit overcrowded, to say the least.

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Hollywood Forever Cemetery Until Sat Sep 27

Free for All Movie Mondays

This free outdoor screening series in Orange County will take place at SCFTA’s Community Plaza, featuring popular movies from the Wedding Singer to Lion King. Bring along friends, beach chairs and a picnic spread (snacks will also be available for purchase) and enjoy the cinema al fresco experience.

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Segerstrom Center for the Arts Details for 2014 TBA Free

Cinema on the Street

For the last three Fridays in July, yet another movie theater pops up on Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade. This one is free, and it's outdoors. Bring beach chairs and a picnic to Third Street Promenade just south of where it intersects with Wilshire Blvd for nightly screenings of family-friendly films such as Back to the Future, Despicable Me in 3-D and Three Amigos!

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Third Street Promenade Until Fri Aug 15

Silents Under the Stars

Get your fill of old Hollywood by attending a silent film screening at Paramount Ranch, used as a rustic film location since 1927. Last year, Silents Under the Stars screened Cecil B. De Mille’s Chicago (1927), a predecessor to the classic musical, in July and the charming Peter Pan (1925) in August. Extra perks included live musical accompaniment, an authentic presentation with 16mm projectors and surprise silent shorts before the films. Bring along blankets, dinner and a flashlight (for the dark parking lot) and enjoy the cinematic history.

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Paramount Ranch Details for 2014 TBA

Movies on the Green

Pack a picnic basket and prepare to stretch your legs on a Saturday night. The Cultural Valley Center’s Movies on the Green event returns this summer to a crowd of loungers looking to take a break from the heat and kick back with some free entertainment. The shady Warner Center Park provides a relaxed backdrop for this summer’s lineup of feel-good family flicks, including Despicable Me 2 and Saving Mr. Banks. Bring your pooch, but leave the booze at home. You’re in for a night of good, clean fun at Movies on the Green.

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Warner Center Park Until Sat Aug 23 Free

Silver Lake Picture Show

What better way to liven up a Thursday night than to cruise over to Silver Lake’s new Sunset Triangle Plaza for some gratis entertainment? This season's line-up includes kid-friendly films such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 and Jurassic Park, plus old-school hits such as Charlie Chaplin's City Lights and Batman Returns.

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Sunset Triangle Plaza Until Thu Sep 5 Free

Movies in the Park

Downtown's picturesque new-ish gem, Grand Park, provides a fountain-speckled, tree-cloaked setting for this year's Movies in the Park series. On Saturday evenings beginning in August, pack a blanket, a smörgåsbord of snacks, and cruise down to the park's big screen, where you'll get the distinct pleasure of rediscovering iconic flicks from the 80s and 90s. You can't bring your booze, but the event is free—both your wallet and your liver will thank you later.

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Poolside Cinema

Critics' pick

Supplement your typical summer drink date with a little cinema at Mr. C Beverly Hills's poolside screening series. Grab a cocktail and settle in to enjoy a classic film, alongside alfresco eats, a special poolside menu and traditional movie snacks, like popcorn and candy. Films begin at sundown every other Tuesday through Labor Day. This year's roster of crowd favorites includes The Talented Mr. Ripley (June 17) and Some Like It Hot (July 29), to name a few. Call Mr. C in advance to guarantee your spot, arrive early and plan to possibly need an Uber home.

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Mr C Beverly Hills Until Tue Aug 26 Free