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
  • Upcoming showings: “She’s All That” on Tuesday, July 18, as part of this year’s Y2K Tuesdays lineup, and “The Greatest Showman” on Sunday, Aug. 6, as part of its dog-friendly Wooftop series.
  • 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.

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

Santee Drive-In

  • Location: 10990 Woodside Ave. N., Santee
  • Open: Year-round, daily
  • Upcoming showings: The schedule varies weekly, so keep an eye on this website — we spy these flicks running through at least Thursday, June 29: “The Flash,” “Spider-Man: Across the Universe,” “Elemental,” and “The Little Mermaid.”
  • 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.

Summer Movies in the Park

  • Location: Varies
  • Open: Until Sat., Oct. 28
  • Upcoming showings: “Top Gun: Maverick” at Brengle Terrace Park on Saturday, July 15, “Turning Red” at Cesar Chavez Community Center on Friday, July 21, and “The Sandlot” at Robb Athletic Field on Saturday, Aug. 5. See the full 2023 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 — we see “Barbie” and “Haunted Mansion” in our future.
  • 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.
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