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Everyone loves a good Netflix and chill, but that’s so last season (and, by that, we mean winter). Summer is here and that means outdoor movie nights! If you have never planned a date to an outdoor movie screening in your area, you are really missing out. An outdoor movie night is the perfect recipe for a romantic date imagine snuggling up under the stars, sipping a boozy drink, and watching one of your favorite films. Plus, it is a great group or double date night option – if you have some other couples you like to go out with.

While there are hundreds of places that offer outdoor movies in the summer, some just have that extra special vibe – whether it’s an amazing view, unique atmosphere, or fantastic food and drink options. Lucky for you, we’ve done the research and have compiled the best of the best options for a romantic outdoor movie night in dozens of cities across the U.S. From am open-air cinema to drive-ins and even some extra-unique dive-ins.

And the best part? With multiple free or inexpensive outdoor screenings, this can definitely fit into your date budget – without feeling like a cheap option. Your S.O is going to be so impressed, we promise.

Unique Outdoor Movie Nights Across the U.S. 1
Bryant Park Movie Night. Photo Credit: Angelito Jusay Photography

Best Open-Air Outdoor Movie Nights

From beaches to parks to city centers – and even rooftops, summer is the perfect time to snuggle up and watch a movie under the stars. Many of these options are free – just bring a blanket or some chairs!

Long Beach, California – Granada Beach

Unique Outdoor Movie Nights Across the U.S. 2

This beach-side movie watching location is a can’t-miss for couples. Arrive before sunset with a blanket and snacks, slide your toes into the sand, and enjoy the sound of the waves while you catch a classic film. They also have two other locations Nautilus Shell Shoreline Village and Cherry Beach. And at each Moonlight Movies on the Beach event, they’ll be collecting donated items for various charities.

  • Dates: Tuesdays in June through August
    • Some highlights of the 2019 line-up include:
      • June 18: The Sand Lot
      • July 9: The Little Mermaid
      • Aug. 1: E.T.
      • Aug. 20: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  • Why it’s romantic: Sunset on the beach, followed by a moonlight film. This could be a new summer tradition for you and your partner.
  • Price: Free!
  • Learn more: Click here for more movie date night options and info.

New York City, New York – Bryant Park

Bryant Park New York Movie night
Photo Credit: Angelito Jusay Photography

Boasting the city’s best food vendors, as well as curated food and wine options, this screening location surrounded by skyscrapers makes for a fantastic date night. Get there early to claim your blanket spot and enjoy a night out on the lawn of this epic outdoor movie theatre.

  • Dates: Mondays in June through August
    • Some highlights of the 2019 line-up include:
      • June 17: Big Daddy
      • July 8: Carrie (1976)
      • July 29: Goodfellas
  • Why it’s romantic: A unique option to take a break from the city hustle, with delicious food and drink options. Cheers!
  • Price: Free!
  • Learn more: Click here for more movie date night options and info.

Denver, Colorado – Red Rocks Amphitheater

film on the rocks, red rocks amphitheatre, denver,co | outdoor movie night
Photo used with permission from Denver Film Society.

Known worldwide as an epic concert venue, most people don’t know this iconic location also doubles as an outdoor cinema and hosts summer movies during their annual ‘Film on the Rocks’ series. What better place for an outdoor movie night than in a one-of-a-kind ‘acoustically perfect’ and naturally formed amphitheater?

  • Dates: Various weekdays May through August
    • Some highlights of the 2019 line-up include:
      • May 28: Bohemian Rhapsody
      • June 17: Mean Girls
      • Aug. 19: Free Solo
  • Price: $16 per person, plus taxes + fees
  • Why it’s romantic: Sitting under the stars in the crisp mountain air, surrounded by ancient rock formations, with the city lights twinkling in the distance … and the very real chance of catching a contact high. Could a couple ask for much more?
  • Learn more: Click here for Film on the Rocks info and tickets.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana – Baton Rouge Gallery

Baton Rouge, Loisiana outdoor movie night
Photo used with permission from Baton Rouge Gallery.

One of the more unique options on this outdoor movie night list … this location screens classic silent films paired with the music of local bands. ‘Movies and Music on the Lawn’ is a perfect fit for couples who love cinema and tunes. They are known to put together some interesting combos with music such as Indie rock bands to DJs.

  • Dates: Four showing dates from May through August
    • May 31: Buster Keaton & Captain Green
    • June 29: ‘The Last Laugh’ & Wumbo
    • July 27: ‘The Phantom Carriage’ & Hartman/Madere/Livingston
    • Aug. 30: Kid’s Night (a good kid-friendly date night, maybe?)
  • Price: $7 per person and includes free popcorn!
  • Why it’s romantic: With bands playing one-of-a-kind music alongside a classic movie, it is a unique mix of old and new that is sure to leave a lasting impression.
  • Learn more: Click here for more details.

Raleigh, North Carolina – Little Theatre

Raleigh North Carolina, Little Theatre
Photo used with permission from the Little Theatre in Raleigh, North Carolina,

‘Movies in the Garden’ … this place is basically made for date night. The movie screening location is next to the rose garden, with food trucks and beverages from Raleigh Brewing available.

  • Dates: Thursdays in July through August
    • Some highlights of the 2019 line-up include:
      • July 11: Mary Poppins Returns
      • July 25: Beetlejuice
      • Aug. 8: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
  • Price: Free!
  • Why it’s romantic: Movies in a garden with local beer and food trucks. That’s about as romantic as it gets.
  • Learn more: Click here for other movie date night options and info.

Chicago, Illinois – Millennium Park

couple drinking at a picnic

Nestled among the uniquely beautiful downtown cityscape, the 40-foot LED screen of this outdoor movie theater is a show-starter. The iconic Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park is the perfect place to pack a picnic for a free date night out.

  • Dates: Tuesdays, June through August
    • Some highlights of the 2019 line-up include:
      • June 25: Wonder Woman
      • July 9: 10 Things I Hate About You
      • August 20: My Big Fat Greek Wedding
  • Why it’s romantic: Picnic in the park surrounded by city lights … oh yes, please.
  • Price: Free!
  • Learn more: Click here for more movie date night options and info.

Houston, Texas – Rooftop Cinema Club

Rooftop Cinema Club outdoor movie night, Houston.
Photo used with permission fro m Rooftop Cinema Club.

This is actually a unique chain of outdoor movie locations that also has showings in Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, and London (UK). They have comfy chairs already set up, wireless headphones, and the option for bottomless snacks included in the admission price! There is a bar and additional food options available also. And it is 18+ only! Hallelujah! They really know how to throw an epic rooftop movie night.

  • Dates: Multiple showings per week during the summer
    • Some highlights of the 2019 line-up include:
      • May 30: Love & Basketball
      • June 9: A Star is Born
      • June 26: Dirty Dancing
  • Why it’s romantic: An adults-only rooftop viewing experience where all you have to bring is yourself and a date to snuggle with? Umm why is this not in every city yet? Plus, they have love seat options that are 2.5-size black reclinable deckchairs with headrests to make the experience extra romantic.
  • Price: $17-24 (student discount also available with ID)
  • Learn more: Click here for more movie date night options and info.

Other Great Open-Air Movie Night Options

Raleigh North Carolina, Little Theatre
Photo used with permission from the Little Theatre in Raleigh, North Carolina,

Tips for a Great Open-Air Movie Date Night

Sitting outside under the stars is very romantic. BUT if you don’t come prepared to make it cozy for you and your date, it could ruin the experience. Here are some essentials you’ll want to bring with you for a great outdoor movie night.

  • Something to sit on. If watching on a lawn, be sure to bring a big blanket to snuggle up on or some short chairs. If sitting on hard benches (like at Red Rocks), a padded seat cushion will be a butt saver!
  • Food and drinks. If outside food and drinks are allowed, pack a picnic basket or backpack with everything you may want. Don’t forget beer and/or wine openers if you’ll need them, as well as utensils.
  • Cash. If there are vendors, they may not accept credit cards. Even if you bring your own snacks, having some cash on hand when the fresh popcorn calls your name is a good idea.
  • Bug spray. Summer often means mosquitos at dusk. If this is true in your area, don’t forget this!
  • Jackets or extra blankets. For when those temps drop with the sun.
film on the rocks, red rocks amphitheatre, denver,co
Photo used with permission from Denver Film Society.

Best Drive-In Outdoor Movie Nights

Couples have been going to drive-in movies for decades, it’s a classic date night option that is also easy on your budget. They usually play the same movies as in the traditional theaters as well – with double or even triple feature options. Some allow outside food and drinks, while others only allow their on-site options. Plus, you can usually bring your favorite furry friends, so it’s a pet-friendly option as well.

Fort Worth, Texas – Coyote Drive-In

houston drive-in
Photo used with permission from the Coyote Drive-In.

While outside food and drink are not permitted, they do have many options for purchase. Overall, it’s a great, unique budget date night option that is pet-friendly, too!

  • Dates: Open most nights, seasonally.
  • Price: $6 per adult for a double feature, $5 on Tuesdays
  • Why it’s romantic: The throwback nature of a drive-in makes it feel like you are in high school again, making out in your first car. But this time, you can buy booze legally at the nearby Coyote Canteen.
  • Learn more: Click here for more info about this Texas drive-in.

Montclair, California – Mission Tiki

Mission-tiki-drive-in outdoor movie | budget date night
Photo used with permission from Mission Tiki.

Opened in 1956 and refurbished in 2006, this theatre is a classic California date night spot with the newest technology. It has a cute and distinct ‘tiki’ theme that makes it stand out from other drive-ins.

  • Dates: Open nightly.
  • Price: $9 per adult (check the coupons tab on the site for deals!)
  • Why it’s romantic: Admire the mountains as the sun sets, then enjoy the night sky as you snuggle up and watch a film. Yes, please!
  • Learn more: Click here for more info about this Cali drive-in.

Middle River, Maryland – Bengies Drive-In

Bengies drive-in
Photo used with permission from Bengies Drive-In.

Boasting the ‘biggest movie theatre screen in the USA’ at 52-ft high and 120-ft wide, it allows you to see the entire picture with no cropping. For the budget savvy, they have a triple feature most Friday and Saturday nights, plus a double feature on Sunday. And they even play all night shows from dusk to dawn on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

  • Dates: Open most nights from early spring to late fall.
  • Price: $5-10 per adult depending on time and feature.
  • Why it’s romantic: Oh the nostalgia! Even if you didn’t grow up at the time when these were all the rage, it is nice to imagine what a simpler life was like – while munching on some snacks with your sweetie.
  • Learn more: Click here for more info about this drive-in.

Amenia, New York – Four Brothers Drive-In

four brothers drive in new york outdoor movie night | budget date ideas
Photo used with permission from Four Brothers Drive-In Theatre.

While many drive-ins have that old school feel, Four Brothers mixes it up by throwing in some modern conveniences – like electric car charging stations. It is actually known as ‘the newest drive-in theatre in America.’ So, they are happy to take on the task of giving this classic date night an update.

Other Great Drive-In Movie Night Options

  • Coldwater, Michigan: Capri Drive-In ($10 per adult)
  • Wellfleet, Massachusettes: Wellfleet Theatres ($12 per adult)
  • Belleville, Illinois: Skyview Drive-In ($11 per adult)
  • Springfield, Illinois: Route 66 Drive-In Theater ($8 per adult)
  • Lexington, Virginia: Hull’s Drive-In ($7 per adult)
  • Lubbock, Texas: Stars & Stripes Drive-In ($8 per adult)
  • San Diego, California: South Bay Drive-In ($9 per adult)
  • Liberty Center, OH: Field of Dreams Drive-In ($8 per adult)
  • Litchfield, Minnesota: Starlite Drive-In ($8 per adult)
  • Pueblo, Colorado: Mesa Drive-In ($10 per adult)
  • Montrose, Colorado: Star Drive-In Theatre ($8.50 per adult)
  • Kansas City, Kansas: Boulevard Drive-In ($10 per adult)
  • West Valley City, Utah: Redwood Drive-In ($9 per adult)

Check out this article by Travel & Leisure for even more drive-in options!

drive in theatre sign
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Tips for a Great Drive-In Movie Date Night

Going to a drive-in is a unique outdoor movie night option. Although it takes a little extra planning, it’s all worth it for those romantic memories! Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Follow the rules. Since you’ll be arriving in and staying in your car, each drive-in has instructions on how to go about parking, etc. Be sure to check their instructions and rules before you plan this date night.
  • Get there early. These places can get packed! Getting there early will help you get a good spot.
  • Bring your own radio. Some places have more technologically advanced ways of listening. But a lot of classic drive-ins will have you listening through your car, which can drain the battery. Having your own radio will prevent this.
  • Bring chairs & bug spray. While sitting in your car is romantic, it may get stuffy. Having some chairs as a backup is a good idea. Having some bug spray on hand in this instance is smart as well.
  • Have cash. While bringing your own snacks can save money, going to the concession stand at a drive-in is part of the classic experience!
going to a drive-in
Photo by William Krause on Unsplash

Best Dive-In Outdoor Movie Nights

You read that right. Yes, movie nights in pools, lakes, or even hot tubs is now a thing. The crowd for this tends to be a bit more college-aged, but don’t let that stop you from dipping your toes into this unique date night idea!

Austin, Texas – Lake Travis

JAWS on the water - outdoor movie night, Texas
Photo courtesy of Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow (by www.hlkfotos.com).

Every summer, Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow puts on an epic JAWS film viewing experience on Lake Travis that ends with a fireworks show. What better way to watch this classic thriller than with your butt in the water? Apparently, scuba divers swim under and scare you as well. Your date will be in your lap in no time! A bar and food options are also available.

  • Dates: Saturdays in June through August.
  • Price: $45 per adult + taxes and fees (includes admission to the water park). Tube rentals extra, or you can bring your own.
  • Why it’s romantic: Everyone knows a scary movie is a good excuse to hold hands and laugh at each other when you inevitably jump. This turns that up a bit.
  • Learn more: Read about it here (link to buy tickets at the bottom).

Las Vegas, Nevada – The Cosmopolitan

outdoor movie night - cosmopolitan las vegas - dive in movie at boulevard pool
Dive-in movie at the Boulevard Pool. Photo used with permission from The Cosmopolitan.

Summertime in Vegas is HOT! If hanging out on the strip, you’ll likely either be inside a casino or soaking in a pool. Taking in a movie while soaking in the cool water of the Boulevard Pool at The Cosmopolitan is a great date night option for those trying to save a few dollars. Films are shown on the marquee for above the pool, so every seat is a good spot.

  • Dates: Monday evenings from May 13 to Labor Day.
    • Some highlights of the 2019 line-up include:
      • May 20: Dirty Dancing
      • July 15: The Breakfast Club
      • Aug. 12: The Notebook
  • Price: $7 for non-hotel guests, complimentary for hotel guests.
  • Why it’s romantic: The lights of the Las Vegas Strip, a relaxing soak in a fancy pool, and movie-themed cocktails. Plus, you don’t have to wear actual clothes …
  • Learn more: Read more about this unique option.

New York City, New York – Hot Tub Cinema

hot tub cinema | outdoor movie theatre
Photo copyright belongs to Hot Tub Cinema.

Coming soon! Hot tubs on a rooftop with panoramic views – the perfect idea for a group date night. This unique pop-up cinema is still in the works of becoming a regular thing. However, they had one event in May already and you can sign up for their newsletter to hear about the next event.

Other Great Dive-In Movie Night Options

Tips for a Great Dive-In Movie Night:

Soaking in water while watching a movie is sure to leave you a little wrinkly by the end, but it is a unique and relaxing way to take in a film – and a good excuse to see your date in a bathing suit. Here’s some tips for this unique movie night option:

  • Find out if you need to bring your own tube. Some venues have rentals or no need for tubing at all. Just check before you go.
  • Get with the theme. Dress up if there is a fun theme going on, like the JAWS viewing in Texas. It will make the date extra memorable!
  • Avoid sitting next to kids, if the event is not adults only. Because pee.
  • Bring a towel and/or change of clothes. Unless you like your car seats to be sopping wet.
pool-float-dive-in-movie

Have you ever been to an open-air, drive-in, dive-in or another type of outdoor film screening? Let us know your favorite place to plan an outdoor movie night date in the comments!

From drive-in movies and pool-side flicks to rooftop cinemas and movies in the park, there are hundreds of romantic outdoor movie night locations across the U.S. - an awesome budget date night option! Places like Red Rock Amphitheatre in Colorado may be well-known, but there are plenty of hidden gems you\'ve never heard of as well. Check out this list to see if there are any near you!

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