Best parks to see a movie

Our top three spots for catching flicks alfresco.

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  • Photographs: Julienne Schaer

  • Bryant Park Film Festival (Photograph: Ethan Lercher)

  • River Flicks

Photographs: Julienne Schaer

Click #2 for a 3-D image (3-D glasses required).

Top pick

Pier I/Brooklyn Bridge Park
It's fitting that the world's first steel-wire suspension bridge, which has provided a dramatic setting for some of history's most enduring films (including On the Town and the first Sex and the City), now serves as the backdrop for an ideal place to watch an outdoor screening. The The Movies with a View series (Thu 8--Sept 2) kicks off its 11th season on the lush Harbor View Lawn of Pier 1, where every spot is a waterfront seat and you can scope the spectacular panorama of the New York Harbor, lower Manhattan and Lady Liberty—not to mention some great films. This summer's program features an eclectic mix, ranging from classic New York (Annie Hall, Thursday 8) to cult comedy (The Big Lebowski, July 22), often preceded by a short film and a DJ set from Brooklyn Radio deck-wreckers. Also freshly opened is the neighboring Pier 6 (Atlantic Ave at Furman St), where swings, slides, volleyball courts and a dog run all overlook lower Manhattan. 2 Old Fulton St at Furman St, Dumbo, Brooklyn (718-802-0603, brooklynbridgepark.org). Films screen Thursdays at sunset; seating is first-come, first-served, recommended arrival by 7pm; free.

Runners-up

Bryant Park
The most crowded of the outdoor movie series is the one that originated it all: the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival (through August 23), an 18-year-old New York affair. Bryant Park screens the classics; this year's Monday-night lineup includes a mix of decade-spanning greats, such as My Man Godfrey (Monday 12), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (July 26) and Bonnie and Clyde (August 23). Throngs demand that you arrive as early as 3:30pm: For the best sound, walk west from the center of the lawn; the 40th and 42nd Street Alles pathways offer mostly unobstructed views. Enter at Sixth Ave and 41st St (212-512-5700, bryantpark.org). Films screen Mondays at sunset; free.

Pier 46/Hudson River Park
Who says a perfectly well-adjusted adult can't attend a film event aimed at the prepubescent demo? The series in question—RiverFlicks for Kids—is seven consecutive weeks of young-at-heart canon flicks, beginning with Dorothy's Technicolor adventure in The Wizard of Oz (Friday 9). You can also catch The Great Muppet Caper on July 23, and Big on August 6. Free popcorn and waterfront views make the prospect of putting up with screaming babies worth it. Pier 46, enter at Charles and West Sts (212-627-2020, riverflicks.com). Films screen Fridays at approximately 8:30pm; free.

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