5 outdoor movie theaters in San Diego, CA

Next time you’re in the mood for a movie, try a local drive-in, rooftop, or park.

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Beginning on July 23, Rooftop Cinema club will start its Leo Season Series by screening movies made by or starring Leos. | Photo by Eric Scire

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Pass the popcorn, please. Nothing screams “summer” like hitting the town for a bit of nighttime cinema under the stars, stretched out on the grass or kicking back in the bed of a truck.

Whether you’re looking for a romantic date night activity — like a scene out of your favorite rom-com — or just want to hang out with friends, we’ve got you covered with five outdoor movie theaters that will have you feeling like the star in your own motion picture.

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The Rooftop Cinema Club is located on the fourth floor of the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego. | Photo by Eric Scire

Rooftop Cinema Club

  • Location: Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
  • Open: Summer season runs through Labor Day; expect fresh screenings in the fall — and those downtown skyline views year-round.
  • Upcoming showings: Check the schedule — tickets for the 2024 season are now on sale.
  • Ticket prices: $19.50-$25.50
  • Fun features: All seats include wireless headphones. The box office sells concessions like popcorn and candy (with vegan options), and features a full bar and food menu whipped up by the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego.

Summer Movies in the Park

  • Location: Varies
  • Open: May-October
  • Upcoming showings: We’ve got our eyes peeled for the 2024 schedule.
  • Ticket prices: Free
  • Fun features: Some events begin as early as 6 p.m. but the movie start time will typically take place ~15 minutes after sunset.

South Bay Drive-In Theatres

  • Location: 2170 Coronado Ave. (south of Chula Vista)
  • Open: Year-round, Friday-Tuesday
  • Upcoming showings: Peep the “Coming Soon” schedule.
  • Ticket prices: $10 adults, $1 for kids ages 5-9
  • Additional features: Each ticket gets you admission to two movies. There’s a snack bar, too, and sometimes you can snag a coupon.

Cinema Under the Stars

  • Location: 4040 Goldfinch St.
  • Open: Year-round, days vary by season
  • Upcoming showings: The schedule changes weekly, so keep watch on the website.
  • Ticket prices: $17 members, $18 box office, $20 online reservation
  • Additional features: Becoming a member of Cinema Under the Stars has its perks. For a $125 annual fee, members get first pick on seats, no reservation fees, and discounted tickets for guests.

The Santee Drive-In has been open since 1958. | Photo by SDtoday

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

Santee Drive-In

  • Location: 10990 Woodside Ave. N., Santee
  • Open: Year-round, daily — although it’s last day in operation is Dec. 31, 2023.
  • Ticket prices: $12 adults ages 13+, $6 kids ages 4-12, kids 3 and under are free
  • Fun features: Santee Drive-In has 1,000+ spots for cars and two screens — and two movies are included in your ticket price. Don’t miss the snack bar.
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