In Southern California, watching an outdoor movie can be a nice way to spend an evening with someone special almost any time of year.

Time Out Los Angeles maintains an up-to-date list of outdoor movies happening in Los Angeles. It’s a great resource!

Note that “outdoor” does not necessarily mean “free”.  Some of these charge entry while others don’t. Most of the time I’ve gone to these types of events, I’ve been impressed at the size of the screen and how good a view I had.  I have found that these outdoor movie events are really professional and well-run!

My Tips for a Great Outdoor Movie Viewing Experience

Here are some tips to enhance your outdoor movie experience this summer!

1. Get Your Tickets (if required) Beforehand

Many of the non-free outdoor screenings sell tickets online. You definitely want to grab them well before the event!

2. Be Prepared for the Cold

In Southern California, it’s so easy to forget that it actually can get kind of chilly at night, even if it was 80 degrees during the day.  This is compounded by the fact that you’ll be sitting still for 3-4 hours and not generating any heat.  Remember to bring jackets, blankets, or whatever else you use to keep warm.

3. Know the Seating Situation

Some venues, such as rooftops, usually offer cozy pillows in their seating areas.

But, when I went to an outdoor movie at Santa Monica High, they had it in their amphitheater.  The view of the screen was great, but the seats were cement, which got pretty uncomfortable after a while.

If the movie is at a park, it might be totally up to provide your own seating.

Remember to bring ample padding or those low beach chairs if the situation requires.  Other outdoor concerts are on grass, so all you need is a towel or low beach chair.  For the most part, do NOT bring those taller camping chairs.  They are too tall and will piss off the people behind you.

4. Know the Food Situation

Some of these events offer a great selection of food from outstanding food trucks.  Others are bring-your-own-grub. Oh, and you can never have too many napkins at these things for some reason.  Bring plenty.

Food Trucks at Santa Monica High
Food Trucks at’s outdoor movie event at Santa Monica High School

5. Don’t Be Late

This goes without saying, but if the seating is first-come-first-serve, it’s best to be on time to get decent seating. Folks usually show up well before showtime, so you should too, if you want good seats.

6. Be Prepared for the Long Haul

I naively thought that one of these events would last about two hours (the length of the movie).  The last one I went to at Santa Monica High lasted over four hours because there was an opening band.  Just be prepared, enjoy your food, and chillax.  You might even want to bring some things to distract you (games, etc.) while you wait for the movie to start.

Have fun! – Brian


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