10 Best Places to Catch An Outdoor Movie in New York This Summer


There's an impressive slate of blockbuster movies coming out this summer, but ensconcing to a cushy theater isn't for everyone. Outdoor screenings house bigger audiences, give more room for lounging, and above all, capitalize on some fantastic weather.

Is there anything more quintessentially New York than a Woodie Allen movie with a Bronx backdrop? No matter where you are in the city this summer, chances are you can find a pretty excellent outdoor screening nearby.

1. Coney Island

No-brainer. Coney Island is one of Brooklyn's most famous attractions, and watching a movie on the beach or boardwalk is hard to beat. The strip is host to the original Nathan's and a slew of top-notch pizza places, while screenings at Coney offer a great view of the skyline. Among the highlights this summer are a 60th anniversary screening of Little Fugitive on July 1 and partnership with the Tribeca Film Festival to show Bending Steel July 8. Ride the Cyclone after the movie if you feel so inclined.

2. Central Park

Cliche, but cliches do exist for a reason. The 11th installment of the Central Park film festival runs August 22-26, and with screenings beginning at 8 p.m., attendees have all of midtown at their disposal for dinner and drinks. Central Park has shown more than 250 films over the past century.

3. Pier 63

Host to the popular RiverFlicks series, Pier 63 stands out because of its proximity to the water. Weekly movies run from July 10 to August 21, kicking off at sundown. On the agenda this summer are Hollywood hits like ArgoThe Avengers and Silver Linings Playbook. Though seating is limited, River Flicks provides free popcorn and encourages picnicking. Pier 63 offers a brief reprieve from hectic Manhattan while still remaining close to downtown attractions. 

4. Brooklyn Bridge

The Bridge offers free weekly movies running all summer, with live DJ sets beginning at 6 p.m. and screenings following a few hours later. Movies are shown every Thursday on the Harbor View Lawn, equipped with a scintillant skyline view. Stay around Brooklyn Heights after the credits to start off the weekend.

5. Prospect Park

Get the hint? Brooklyn is prime for outdoor screenings. Prospect Park is part of the Celebrate Brooklyn! culture initiative, with free movie showings and a suggested $3 donation. Take the F/G down to Seventh Avenue and bring money for food and drink sold at the venue. On tap this summer is the Philip Glass Ensemble and violinist Kishi Bashi performing the score alongside Dracula July 13 and another live accompaniment to Beasts Of The Southern Wild August 8.

6. McCarren Park

Dubbed as "the coolest venue in the country" by Rolling Stone, McCarren park houses SummerScreen, the hippest and hottest screening series in Williamsburg. By now, you know the deal — bands start at 6, movies at sundown, like some of the other Brooklyn venues — but get there early for good spots. Can't Hardly Wait and The Goonies are just some of the movies on the lineup this year, with SummerScreen leaving the sixth and final film up to a fan vote. The musical acts will be announced soon, but you can bet that can of PBR that you haven't heard of any of them.

7. Tompkins Square Park

Every summer, the Manhattan park hosts Films on the Green, a free French festival. This year's theme is "love à la française." Screenings are free, and yes, there are English subtitles. Dig the offerings of the East Village before or after.

8. Socrates Sculpture Park

Queens makes an appearance, offering a weekly screening of international film from Chad, Mexico, South Korea and more. The slate begins July 3 with Our Nixon, which debuted last March at SXSW. Live music opens at 7 p.m.

9. Valentino Pier

Red Hook Flicks was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, but its dedicated following continues to turn up and raise money for licences and screening equipment. The first showing of the summer at Valentino Pier will be Stand By Me on July 9, running through August. Though not as hip as some other areas in Brooklyn, the nearby Red Hook Bait and Tackle has plenty on tap.

10. Bryant Park

With an HBO partnership, classic films will be screened from June to August in Manhattan's scenic Bryant Park. The summer film festival has a variety of different genres, with anticipated screenings running from Tootsie to E.T. Between 40th and 42nd Street, you won't struggle to find pre- or post-film diversions.