Sunset Cinema: Family-Friendly Outdoor Movies Around Puget Sound
Reasons to keep the kids up late: Drive-ins, movies with a view, dog-friendly films and more
Seattle's late sunsets create a challenge for families with younger children who want to enjoy a movie outdoors. But if bedtimes slip in the summer, or your kids are a little older, summer breezes add something to the movie experience that you just can't get from the chill of an air-conditioned theater. Whether you prefer campy classics or animated musicals, raucous crowds or kid-centered sing-alongs, there is an outdoor movie series in the Puget Sound region for you.
Tips: Because this is Seattle, bring both sunscreen and jackets. Blankets can provide seating or warmth, and cushions or low chairs are recommended for those who don't want to sit on the ground. Opening times vary by event, but all outdoor movie screenings begin at sunset. (For sunset times, look up the date here)
Seattle outdoor movie series
Seattle Outdoor Movies at Magnuson Park, Thursdays
Where: Athletic fields at Seattle's Magnuson Park, use the entrance at 7400 Sand Point Way N.E. or at NE 65th St. and Sand Point Way N.E.
Cost: Children five and under enter for free; all others cost $5.
Schedule: July 9 Back to the Future; July 16 Crazy, Stupid Love; July 23 Big Hero Six; July 30 Zoolander; August 6 10 Things I Hate About You; August 13 UP; August 20 Guardians of the Galaxy; August 27 The Princess Bride
What: The series at Magnuson Park runs on Thursday evenings, rain or shine. Seating begins at 7 p.m. (6:30 p.m. later in the season). Live performances and trivia games fill the gap between seating and showing. Food trucks offer concessions, but families can bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages. Well-behaved, leashed dogs are welcome.
Insider tip: Magnuson Park contains both a dog park and a playground, so there's something everyone in the family. Come in the afternoon and enjoy the park before settling in for the movie and getting dinner from a food truck.
Fremont Outdoor Cinema, Saturdays
Where: 3501 Phinney Ave N. in Seattle. Street parking only; consider taking the bus.
Schedule: July 10, Elf (free); July 18, Talladega Nights; July 24, Predator; July 25, Monty Python and the Holy Grail; August 7, South Park; August 15, Ghostbusters; August 29, Lego Movie
Cost: Tickets for most screenings are $5 advance, or $10 at the door (if available). Gates open at 7 p.m.; most seats are taken by 8 p.m. Movies may be canceled in the event of rain.
What: Seattle's oldest outdoor cinema series, Fremont Outdoor Cinema prides itself on wackiness. Some of the wildest games are reserved for their 21+ theme nights, and the movie selections all summer skew a bit older than some series, but families with older kids can count on a good time with live music or trivia on weekend nights. Beer is only available in the beer garden; concessions are provided by food trucks. Come early and picnic during the pre-show entertainment (outside food is welcome, but no alcohol) or stake out a spot when gates open and then explore Fremont until closer to screening.
Insider tip: The movies are screened in a parking lot instead of a park, so you'll want to bring more than just blankets to sit on. Since it's Fremont, creativity is encouraged as long as you don't block the view for others.
Where: Mural Amphitheatre at Seattle Center. Budget $10- $20 for parking in one of many nearby lots, or consider taking the bus.
Schedule: July 25, Goonies; August 1, Selma; August 8, Back to the Future; August 15, Guardians of the Galaxy; August 22, Into the Woods
What: The Mural's Saturday night series ranges from 80s classics to serious dramas. Seating is free, and available first-come, first-served on the amphitheater lawn. Families are invited to bring a picnic or purchase food at the adjacent Armory (formerly the Center House). Movies may be canceled in the event of rain.
Insider tip: Get the most for your parking dollar: pair your movie with a visit to the Pacific Science Center's Grossology exhibit or the Experience Music Project (which is hosting exhibits on Looney Tunes animation and Star Wars costumes this summer).
Best for: Due to the eclectic movie selection, age appropriateness varies by week.
West Seattle Outdoor Movies, Saturday
Where: In the courtyard by Hotwire Online Coffeehouse
What: Seating for this Saturday series is free and first-come, first-served. Variety acts provide entertainment until the movie starts at dusk. On-site concessions and raffles at each movie benefit local charities. Movies will be canceled in the event of rain.
Insider tip: The courtyard fills up fast, so arrive right when gates open to find a spot.
Best For: Middle grade and up, depending on the week's movie selection.
Where: Cascade Playground, 333 Pontius Ave N. Seattle. Street parking is limited; consider taking the bus.
Cost: Free, plus free popcorn and Sno-cones
What: Cascade is a neighborhood in transition, and old-timers may be surprised to see this park filled with young families and neighborhood kids. You might do some shopping at the REI flagship store before you visit the park, or pick up dinner at one of the neighborhood's many restaurants. Picnics and games are encouraged, and well-behaved, leashed dogs are welcome. Pre-movie activities are still being arranged, but in recognition of the underserved communities residing in the neighborhood, back-to-school preparation will share space with chess and hula hoops. Movies are free and so is the popcorn and the sno-cones. Well-behaved, leashed dogs are welcome. Movies will be canceled in the event of rain.
Schedule: August 21, Big Hero 6; August 28, Paddington; September 4, Grease; September 11, Annie
Insider tip: If you come early, you might catch a game of the local kickball league.
Best for: Elementary school age.
Where: Bell Street Park, 3rd and Bell Street. Street parking is limited; consider taking the bus.
What: If you haven't been to Belltown lately, you might not have seen its new boulevard park yet. Bell Street Park is a pedestrian plaza that runs along four blocks of Bell Street, which turns into a car-free space for special events and festivals. Into the Woods is shown on one of the park's Family Fun Days, when Bell Street Park will be filled with chalk art activities, giant games, the imagination playground and more between Second and Third avenues. 101 Dalmations takes place during Dog Days, when you can expect to see as many dogs as people participating in dog-centric activities like agility courses, licensing, dog training demonstrations and more. Movies are free. Well-behaved, leashed dogs are welcome on both days (and a small off-leash park shares a boundary with the park). Movies will be canceled in the event of rain.
Schedule: August 8, Into the Woods; August 15, 101 Dalmatians
Insider tip: Don't pack a picnic. Belltown has more restaurants per block than any neighborhood in Puget Sound. Rocco's Pizza (next door to long-lived Mama's Mexican Kitchen) is not to be missed.
More in Seattle:
Jefferson Community Center Outdoor Movie Series: 3801 Beacon Ave S, at Jefferson Park. Call 206-684-7481 for details. Schedule: 7/10 Toy Story II; 7/17 Back to the Future; 7/24 Toy Story III; 8/7 Back to the Future II; 8/27 Back to the Future III
Three Dollar Bill Cinema: Cal Anderson Park 1635 11th Ave, in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. Parking is limited, especially on weekend nights; consider taking the bus. Schedule: August 7, Princess Bride; August 14, Adventures in Babysitting; August 21, Edward Scissorhands; August 28, The Neverending Story
Movies at the Marina: Shilshole Bay Marina in Seattle, 7001 Seaview Ave. N.W., free parking in the lot and limited street parking for overflow. Free guest mooring is available by reservation if you want to come by boat. Schedule: August 14, Finding Nemo; August 21, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
SEEDArts Cinema: Rainier Valley Cultural Center, 3515 S Alaska St, Seattle. Small lot can accommodate 15 cars; additional parking is available on-street and in commercial parking lots nearby on Rainier Avenue. Schedule: July 18, Penguins of Madagascar; August 15, Big Hero 6
Eastside Outdoor Movie Series
Movies at Marymoor, Wednesdays
Where: On the grass at MacNair Field in Marymoor Park in Redmond. Enter the park from the east entrance at 176th Ave NE & NE 65th Street or the west entrance off West Lake Sammamish Pkw NE.
Cost: Children 5 and under enter for free; all others cost $5; parking costs $5.
What: The series at Marymoor Park runs weekly (usually on Wednesday evenings) from July 8–August 26. Rain or shine, seating begins at 7 p.m. (6:30 p.m. later in the season). Trivia games and live performances will fill the gap between seating and showing. Food trucks offer concessions, but families are welcome to bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages. Well-behaved, leashed dogs are welcome.
Insider tip: Take your dog to Marymoor's famous off-leash area before the movie to ensure he or she is worn out and well-behaved when you put the leash back on for the movie.
Schedule: July 8, The Goonies; July 15, Dirty Dancing; July 21 (Tuesday), Raiders of the Lost Ark; July 29, Big Hero 6; August 5, Top Gun; August 12, Grease; August 19, Tangled; August 26, Guardians of the Galaxy
Moonlight Cinema at Redhook, Woodinville, Thursdays
Where: Redhook Brewery 14300 NE 145th St. in Woodinville. Free parking.
Cost: Tickets can be purchased in advance online for $5 from Brown Paper Tickets or in person at the pub.
What: Many of the Thursday-night movies screened at Redhook Brewery are restricted to adults, but families are welcome to attend four of them. Gates open at 6 p.m. with lawn games and live music filling the gap until sundown.
Insider tip: No outside food and drink are permitted, but with concessions provided by Redhook's own pub, this is one movie you don't want to pack a picnic for.
Schedule: July 16, Spaceballs; July 30, Dumb and Dumber; August 13, Jurassic Park; August 27, The Lego Movie
Where: Hidden Valley Sports Park, Bellevue, 1905112th Ave. N.E.
Cost: The movie and popcorn are free, but each week donations will be accepted on behalf of a different charity.
What: The City of Bellevue sponsors two outdoor movie series. The first is at Hidden Valley Sports Park, running Tuesdays, July 7–Aug. 25 on Tuesdays. Pre-movie activities begin at 8 p.m. Bellevue Summer Outdoor Movies is specifically intended as a family event, and all movies are either PG or G.
Insider tip: Call 425-452-4240 regarding suggested donations and availability of “VIP and Classic Experiences,” including full meal service and a drive-in movie simulation.
Schedule: July 7, Penguins of Madagascar; July 14, How to Train Your Dragon; July 21, The Book of Life; July 28, Boxtrolls; August 4, Dolphin Tale 2; August 11, Annie; August 18, Hundred Foot Journey; August 25, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Bellevue Movies in the Park, Thursdays
Where: Crossroads Park in Bellevue 16130 N.E. Eighth St. The parking lot is on the left side of the street next to Fire Station 3, just past 160th Ave. N.E.
What: One of the most family-focused of the outdoor movie series, Movies in the Park pre-show activities include games, crafts and activities for kids beginning at 7:30 p.m. The series runs Thursdays in August and plays only family-friendly films. Movies will be canceled in the event of rain.
Insider tip: Crossroads Park has a water spray play area next to the playground. Enough said.
Schedule: August 6, Big Hero 6; August 13, Maleficent; August 20, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day; August 27, Cinderella
Outdoor Movie Nights at Carillon Point, Kirkland, Saturdays
When: The plaza at Carillon Point, 4100 Carillon Point, at the intersection of Lake Washington Blvd. and Lakeview Drive in Kirkland. Free parking.
Cost: A $5 donation to Hopelink is recommended.
What: Set up your blankets and chairs on the plaza at Carillon Point one hour before dusk for family-friendly movies on Saturday nights. Bring a picnic and enjoy the view over Lake Washington until the movie starts. Movies will be canceled in the event of rain.
Insider tip: Fill the gap between dinner and movie with a relaxed family walk along the shoreline trail. Keep an eye out for the restored salmon stream and talk to your kids about the sculptural art. Their interpretations might surprise you.
Best For: Elementary and up.
Schedule: July 11, Maleficent; July 25, Big Hero 6; August 8, Jurassic Park; August 22, Guardians of the Galaxy
South Sound Outdoor Movie Series
Auburn Summer Sounds and Cinema, Fridays
What/when: Auburn Parks and Recreation offers three Fridays of family-centered movies and live music at a different location each week. The Auburn Youth Council will be selling concessions. Well-behaved, leashed dogs are welcome, too. There will be children's activities and inflatable rides at Sunset Park; Les Gove Park will have a bouncy house in addition to children's activities. All three nights will feature live music from local performers.
Insider tip: Active older kids might want to bring a skateboard to Sunset or Lea Hill Parks, which both features a space for skating. Les Gove Park features a barrier-free playground for children of all ages and abilities and a wonderful splash park.
Schedule: July 31, Big Hero 6, Lea Hill Park; August 7, Frozen (sing-along) Sunset Park; August 14 Planes: Fire and Rescue, Les Gove Park
LeMay Car Museum Drive-in Movie Series, Saturdays
Where: Haub Family Showfield at 2702 East D. St. in Tacoma.
Cost: Visit the website for a variety of ticket pricing options (kids ages 5 and under are free).
What: On four Saturdays this summer, your family can relive the drive-in movie experience. Parking begins at 4:30. You can watch from your car or from the lawn. The event is free, but donations are accepted. You can really relive the 20th century experience by swinging through the drive-through on the way there (Sonic Burger; Tacoma Legendz; Burger Ranch are are all fairly close by). You can also purchase picnic concessions onsite. Well-behaved, leashed dogs are welcome. Movies will be canceled in the event of rain.
Insider tip: The LeMay Car Museum is a unique family activity in itself. Families can visit the museum until 5 p.m., and then find a spot to watch the movie.
Schedule: June 27, Night at the Museum; July 11, Wild Hogs; August 8, Cars 2; August 29 People's Choice – TBD
North Sound Outdoor Movies
Popcorn in the Park, Marysville, Saturdays
Where: Jennings Memorial Park Ballfield. 6915 Armar Road Marysville. Free parking is plentiful.
Cost: Free, and free popcorn
What: Outdoor movies are presented by Marysville Parks and Recreation on six consecutive Saturday nights on the big screen at Jennings Memorial Park Ballfield. This year the big screen has been replaced by an even bigger one. Marysville Kiwanis Club provides free popcorn at each showing, while hot dogs and ice cream are available for purchase as a high-school fundraiser. At The Boxtrolls screening there will be an information table where guests can learn about the need for foster families in Washington and find out what it takes to foster a child or support the foster care system.
Insider tip: Besides the regular playground, don't forget to give your kids a chance to climb on the dinosaurs in the park's other play area, “Dinosaur Park.”
Schedule: July 11, Paddington; July 18, Strange Magic; July 25, Despicable Me 2; August 1, The Boxtrolls; August 8, Into the Woods; August 15, Big Hero 6
Cinema Under the Stars, Everett, Fridays
Where: Camp Patterson field, Thornton A. Sullivan Park, 11405 Silver Lake Rd., Everett. Free parking in a gravel lot.
What: At this free Friday series, vendors will sell snacks (cash only, but prices are low). There may also be face painting and festival toys for sale as well. Pre-movie entertainment beginning at 7:30 is kid-focused and ranges from Cap'n ARRR's pirate comedy to children's arts and crafts courtesy of Imagine Children's Museum. Movies will be canceled in the event of rain.
Insider tip: Usually there's plenty of room to spread out, but depending on the movie, the field and parking lot can get crowded. Come early to secure your spot, then spend some time at the playground behind the picnic shelters – or playing on the lake shore – before the movie starts.
Best For: Elementary school-aged.
Schedule: July 24, Big Hero 6; July 31, Frozen; August 7, Maleficent; August 14, Paddington; August 21, Cinderella
Edmonds Outdoor Movies, Fridays
Where: Frances Anderson Center Playfield 700 Main Street, Edmonds. Street parking or use the library lot next door.
What: Enjoy a free movie with a view of the water. Movie theater-style snacks will be available for sale to benefit the Gymnastics Boosters Club, but most people pack picnic dinners. With the playground right next to the movie screen, parents can enjoy the film and keep an eye on the kids at the same time. In the event of rain, the screening will be relocated to the gymnasium inside the Center, where the bathrooms will be open regardless of the weather.
Insider tip: The field is huge and crowding has never been a problem. Feel free to bring your picnics, lawn chairs and frisbees and spread out.
Best for: The July screening is always full of families. Teens especially enjoy attending the August screening with groups of friends.
Schedule: July 31, How to Train Your Dragon; August 7, The Truman Show