Outdoor and drive-in movies have experienced a renaissance during the age of Covid. What follows is a list of where to catch a flick outdoors this summer in the Washington region. Did we miss one? Please let us know by sending an email to email@example.com.
Enjoy some sci-fi classics at Congressional Cemetery, which bills itself as “America’s Hippest Cemetery.” Settle in among the headstones with your own blanket, food, and alcohol. Cinematery shows films at sunset on the first Friday of every month for just $10. August’s film is Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; September’s film is Space Balls.
The LOC’s fifth annual Summer Movies on the Lawn film festival features movies from the National Film Registry until August 4. The film on July 28, Mary Poppins, will include a singalong, if you’re feeling down for some karaoke. (Every movie is shown with live captions.) Live music will also be available ahead of the showings. Other movies this summer include Rocky and Wall-E.
DowntownDC Summer Flicks scores films with an original music soundtrack mixed by weekly guest DJs. You can also enjoy live music from Shaolin Jazz’s DJ 2-Tone Jones and other guests ahead of the movie. Movies are on Tuesdays and are free, but registration is required. Upcoming films: Black Widow and Rush Hour.
The Parks is offering free movies (and blankets to borrow) on the Great Lawn. There will be cider, beer, ice cream, tacos, quesadillas, and more sold by different vendors. Parking is limited, so biking is recommended. Upcoming films: Hidden Figures and Goonies.
From August 2 until September 6, watch a free film with a view of the Potomac River at Georgetown Waterfront Park. Movies will have closed captioning. Upcoming films: The Goonies and Encanto.
NoMa’s Business Improvement District’s free outdoor movie series in Alethia Tanner Park is on hiatus for the summer, but they’ll be back in September on Wednesday nights. The theme for September is “CiNoMagic,” and you can vote on NoMa BID’s website starting July 12 on which movie you want to see.
The Drive-In at Union Market advertises “better than average concessions,” and you will find British classics by AboveGround, Japanese comfort food and ramen from UZU, creative cocktails from Suburbia, along with other Union Market favorites. Each movie is $20 per car, but you can also show up on foot. Upcoming films: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Dirty Dancing.
Located at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Films at the Stone is the only film series held at a National Mall memorial. The films, which are meant to embody the ideals of MLK Jr., are free and open to the public, no registration necessary. Upcoming films: Encanto and Just Mercy.
Grab drinks and snacks from the Cantina Bambina concession window and catch a free movie on Transit Pier. You can also bring in food from any Wharf restaurant—just no outside drinks. No reservations or tickets needed. Upcoming films: Top Gun and Crazy Rich Asians.
Find a seat on a wooden bench or get settled on the grass at the UDC Amphitheater. Outside food and drink, including alcohol, are allowed. Upcoming films: Space Jam: A New Legacy and Encanto.
See free movies at the outdoor plazas of Arlington Mill Community Center on Fridays and Penrose Square on Saturdays. Parking is free at both locations, and the movies are shown in English with Spanish subtitles. Alcohol is not allowed, but leashed pets are welcome. Upcoming flicks at Arlington Mill include Mulan and Encanto, and Penrose Square will be showing Spiderman: No Way Home and Minari.
Restaurants on the Westpost plaza will feature food and drink specials through August during the movies, and complimentary popcorn will be available. Movies include Coco hosted by Banditos Tacos & Tequila and Crazy Rich Asians hosted by Sparrow Room and Bun’d Up.
Complimentary popcorn will be provided at George Mason University’s free summer movie series held at Mason Square. Upcoming films: The Goonies and Legally Blonde.
Catch a free film in Mosaic District’s Strawberry Park on Thursday nights, rain or shine. Movies are shown with open captions. Upcoming films: In the Heights and Spiderman: No Way Home.
Starting in August, Fairfax County’s free drive-in film series will show movies on Saturdays at Trinity Centre. Upcoming films: Luca and Encanto.
Middle River, Maryland
Looking for not just a big screen, but the biggest possible screen? Bengies offers the largest movie theater screen in America for just $12.50 per adult and $7 per child (children 4 years and younger are free). Make sure you arrive early: No one is allowed in after the box office closes. Upcoming showings include a double feature of Thor: Love & Thunder and Lightyear.
National Harbor is hosting its free Movies on the Potomac event all throughout summer, with food-focused movies in July, musicals in August, and America-themed movies in September. Sundays are family-friendly movie nights and Thursdays are date nights. Upcoming films: Ratatouille and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.
Grab dinner from one of the many restaurants at Woodmont Triangle and head to the corner of Norfolk and Auburn avenues around 9 pm on July 28, 29, or 30 to catch a free movie. A limited number of chairs will be provided, so if you have your own lawn chair, feel free to bring it. Upcoming films: Mamma Mia! and Knives Out.
Baltimore and Bethesda
Bark Social, a dog-friendly bar and park, offers a complimentary pupsicle if you RSVP to their outdoor movie nights. Benches and chairs are provided. Dogs must be registered with Bark Social to ensure their vaccination status, and if you’re not a member, you’ll need to purchase a day pass for $9.99 on weekdays and $14.99 on weekends (it’s an extra $4.99 for a second dog). If you go without a dog, entry is free. Movie nights at their Baltimore location are monthly, while Bethesda’s are twice a month. Baltimore’s Bark Social is showing Dream Girls this month and Bethesda is showing Sandlot.
The American Visionary Art Museum is showing free films on Federal Hill every Thursday in July, starting at sundown. Upcoming films: Soul and Jurassic Park.
On Friday nights once a month, BlackRock Center for the Arts is hosting free films at 8:30 p.m. No outside drinks are allowed, but concessions are available. Bring a blanket or a lawn chair. Upcoming films: In The Heights and Encanto.
Check your local community plazas and parks for free outdoor movie nights too. A few suggestions: The monthly Friday films at Tysons Corner Center, Rockville’s Movies in the Parks held at different parks throughout the summer, Annapolis Town Center’s movie nights in August and September, and a monthly cinema night at Mitchell Park in Kalorama.