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Photograph: Courtesy Hunters Point Parks Conservancy

20 spots to catch a movie outside in NYC this summer

Take in a movie under the stars at these NYC parks and more.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

Looking for the best spots in NYC for an outdoor movie? We've got you. Spreading out your blanket to take in outdoor movies has always been a beloved summer pastime in NYC but this year, more of us are spending time in the great outdoors than ever before. Luckily, NYC has options for everyone, from public parks like Bryant Park to restaurants with patios such as The Standard's plaza. You don't have to worry about mosquitos (or getting dressed up) if you don't want to. And some of these spots offer incredible views that give NYC movie theaters a run for their money, like the Skyline Drive-in and the Queens Botanical Garden.

RECOMMENDED: 35 ways to have the best summer in NYC

The best places to see outdoor movies this summer

  • Movies
  • Movies

The comeback of free movies at Bryant Park takes place on Monday nights and, for the first time, also on Tuesday nights, in order to better accommodate high interest. As always, the events will be free to the public and each screening will begin shortly after sunset (typically between 8pm-9pm). You can find out more information here.

Monday, August 23: Clueless
Tuesday, August 24: Hustlers
Monday, August 30: The Muppets Take Manhattan
Tuesday, August 31: Inside Man
Monday, September 6: Uncut Gems
Tuesday, September 7: Love & Basketball
Monday, September 13: Moonstruck
Tuesday, September 14: MOULIN ROUGE!
Monday, September 27: The Phantom of the Opera
Tuesday, September 28: Mrs. Doubtfire 

  • Things to do
  • City Life

The Movies With A View series complete with stunning views of the Manhattan skyline returns to Brooklyn Bridge Park in August. It's one of the most popular spots for free outdoor screenings in the city, this year’s theme for the series is “Grit,” featuring films that celebrate underdog stories, human perseverance and resilience.

The film screenings are scheduled for the following dates. Doors open at 6pm and the movies start at sundown:

August 5: Shaun of the Dead (2004, Directed by Edgar Wright)
August 12: Patti Cake$ (2017, Directed by Geremy Jasper)
August 19: Akeelah and the Bee (2006, Directed by Doug Atchison)
August 26: Karate Kid (1984, Directed by John G. Avildsen)

In addition to the free screenings, each evening will feature local food from Smorgasburg vendors, a pre-show DJ set selected by Brooklyn Radio and a short film curated by BAMcinematak.

All four nights will take place on Pier 1 Harbor View Lawn in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and there's even a free bike valet!

Movies on the Astoria Waterfront
Photograph: Courtesy Central Astoria Local Development Coalition

3. Movies on the Astoria Waterfront

Astoria has its own free outdoor movie screenings on the East River waterfront in Astoria Park! Head out on the following nights to see these films on the Great Lawn:

Tuesday, August 3, 8:30pm: Aladdin
Monday, August 9, 8:30pm: When Harry Met Sally (Rated R)
Monday, August 16, 8:15pm: Coming to America (Rated R)
Monday, August 23, 8pm: Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

NYC Parks and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment have made it possible for New Yorkers across the boroughs to find a free outdoor movie screening near them every week. These family-friendly screenings are held in the city's parks and playgrounds, ranging from great new movies to all-time classics. Each screening has chairs reserved for seniors and people with disabilities so that everyone can enjoy a good movie. So pack up a picnic, find a great spot, and enjoy the show. The massive, full schedule is here.

  • Things to do
  • City Life

This Greenpoint, Brooklyn drive-in offers killer views of Manhattan's skyline along with popular movie classics at 1 Oak Street across the river from downtown Manhattan—a site that’s been used for shooting Fendi and Converse ads as well as the opening credits of Saturday Night Live. There's a concession stand on site and if you don't have a car, don't worry, you can rent out a chair ($22) to take in the flick. You can find the full, jam-packed schedule here. Tickets range from $22 to $80.

Bring a blanket and spread out at the Queens Botanical Garden for its first-ever Movie Nights series. Probably the most beautiful setting for outdoor film screenings, the garden offers up gorgeous golden hour views and seasonal, movie-themed food and refreshments (you pay for with a complimentary $5 voucher) as well as exclusive after-hours access, hands-on craft activities and live performances based on featured films. Tickets start at $15 per adult (or $25 per couple) and $12 per child ($50 for a family of four). There is a parking fee ($8-$10) and you must register beforehand on

Here's the lineup:

July 16: Alice in Wonderland (Create your own flavorful teas by mixing a combination of herbs, flowers, and plants and take home two tea bags of your own making! Wander by the Queen’s Dining Hall for a cup of tea and cake! Don’t forget to pick up a souvenir to celebrate your “unbirthday”!)
July 24: Raya and the Last Dragon (Before the movie, experience a live fire performance by Hoopsie Daisies! Get a taste of Southeast Asia with bite-size appetizers at “Boun’s Shrimporium” and shop botanical plushies to take home!)
August 6: Wonder Woman 1984 (Be inspired by a live taekwondo demonstration by Flushing-based East Taekwondo! Come by the “Amazonian Cafe” for snacks and drinks. Shop our patriotic red, white, and blue souvenirs!)
August 20: Abominable (Our featured craft is Botanical Snowpeople! Create your own little Everest using flower petals and a little magic! Hike to “Everest Mountain Camp Canteen” for an icy treat and buns! Peruse our plant sale to take home a piece of nature!)

  • Movies
  • Movies

It’s the 25th anniversary season of this rooftop festival, so be prepared for a season of must-see films. The non-profit series is partnering with SundanceTV on this summer’s programming and the impressive line-up includes the New York premiere of Janicza Bravo’s Zola, the world premiere of ESPN’s Once Upon a Time in Queens and a number of eagerly anticipated documentaries like Joshua Rofé’s Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal and Greed, and Sally Aitken’s Playing with Sharks.

This summer’s outdoor screenings—at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, Brookfield’s Metrotech Commons, Fort Greene ParkThe Old American Can Factory in Gowanus, the rooftops of The William Vale in Greenpoint; The Queens Drive-In in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park—will again feature a number of cultural draws on top of the films being shown like live music, immersive performances and filmmaker Q&As. This year, the series will be collaborating with Jazz at Lincoln Center to curate special musical performances before films at select events

You can find more information on the full selection in this summer’s series here. Tickets are typically $16 but some screenings are free at some venues.

  • Things to do
  • City Life

The Seaport Cinema is back with screenings every Monday night. Not only do viewers get incredible sweeping views of the Lower Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge, but they'll get a free bucket of Bubbly seltzers and popcorn with their reservation, which begins at 8pm for an 8:30pm showing.

July 28 - Moonlight
July 19 - Toy Story
July 26 - Miracle
August 2 - Remember the Titans
August 9 - School of Rock
August 16 - Dazed and Confused
August 23 - Moana

Reservations are released on Monday at 10am for the following week on Tock, which you can make for $20—a portion of which will be donated to a local charity. 

  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • Ridgewood
  • price 2 of 4

With its top-flight sound system, sophisticated menu and deeply chill vibes, Nowadays is a super low-key and unique spot to take in a flick. When it's not pumping jams from live DJs, Nowadays screens music documentaries (usually during the week) for no extra cost, starting at 8:30pm

Here's the lineup for July:

July 19: The Upsetter, The Life & Music of Lee Scratch Perry
July 26: Underground Nation, 20 Years of Djax Up Records
July 27-28: Wild Style

You can find out what's up next here.

  • Things to do
  • City Life

Bushwick's Syndicated, known for being a one-stop shop for great food and films, is screening movies outside as well. Each night, films begin at 9pm and seating is first-come, first-served but free, but you should order something off the menu. Don't miss the crowd-pleasing wings and seasoned popcorn and the new Pink Flamingo made with Mezcal, fresh watermelon juice, ginger syrup and lemon.

Make sure to check out the extensive monthly screening lineup here.


  • Things to do
  • Queens

On the grounds of the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens-Drive-In is popping up through October. Drive-In guests can expect pre-show entertainment from live performances, talks, live demonstrations and more connected to the night’s movie theme (think climate change or real-life thrillers). Tickets will be priced starting at $35 per car (up to 4 passengers per car). Doors will open each night around 7:30pm, shows will begin at 8:30pm and end by 11pm.

See the full line-up here.

Brooklyn Drive-In at the Brooklyn Army Terminal
Photograph: Courtesy Rooftop Films via Facebook

12. Brooklyn Drive-In at the Brooklyn Army Terminal

Rooftop Films and New York City Economic Development Corporation have teamed up to create The Brooklyn Drive-In, popping up at The Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park. With film festivals shut down or postponed around the world, this series is a way to access those sought-after flicks including new and independent foreign films released this year. Tickets are priced starting at $35 per car (up to 4 passengers per car). Doors will open each night around 7:30pm, shows will begin at 8:30pm and end by 11pm.


Enjoy fan favorites, cult classics, Hollywood glamour, and more with booze, yummy bites, candy, and of course, complimentary popcorn at The Standard High Line on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. Make sure to RSVP to save your seats—they go fast.

July 18: The Wiz
July 19: Splash
July 20: Auntie Mame
July 25: An American in Paris
July 26: The Goonies
July 27: Barefoot in the Park
August 1: Empire Records
August 2: The Devil Wears Prada
August 3: How to Marry a Millionaire
August 8: Magic Mike
August 9: Little Miss Sunshine
August 10: Cabaret
August 15: Clueless
August 16: Disney’s Into The Woods
August 17: The Seven Year Itch
August 22: Some Kind of Wonderful
August 23: Rodger’s & Hammerstein’s Cinderella
August 24: Julie & Julia
August 29: All About Eve
August 30: Pretty in Pink
August 31: Grease

One Astoria-based restaurant that's been around since 1965, Bel Aire Diner, is putting on drive-in movie nights in their sizable parking lot, bringing the trend straight into the concrete jungle. For the setup, Bel Aire Diner has been using a 25-foot screen, propped up high to allow easy viewing for roughly 30 to 40 cars. Movie patrons must be inside their cars (no walkers!) and can tune in to the flick's sound on an FM radio station. Visitors can dine too, ordering food ahead of time from Bel Aire's website and just include a car color and license plate for food drop-offs from the greasy spoon. Bel Aire Diner has been working on the venture with Long Island Movie Nights, who specialize in creating pop-up drive-in events. 


Is there anything better than an outdoor barbecue? Yes, and outdoor barbecue paired with a drive-in movie! Staten Island's Juicy Lucy is hosting a new series called "A Flick & a Feast" that delivers barbecue to your window. It's $45 per car, which includes $20 toward your meal. Showtimes are Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays, at 5:15 and 7:45pm.

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