5 outdoor movie theaters in San Diego, CA

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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

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 Sept. 5, 2022; expect fresh screenings in the fall
  • Upcoming showings: “Pitch Perfect” at 4:15 p.m. on Sat., July 23, for “Wooftop” — a dog-friendly screening + “10 Things I Hate About You” at 8:30 p.m. on Mon., July 25
  • Ticket prices: $17.50-$24.50
  • Additional features: All seats are socially distanced + include wireless headphones and views of the big screen. 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.
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The Santee Drive-In has been open since 1958. | Photo by SDtoday

🎬 Santee Drive-In

  • Location: 10990 Woodside Ave. N., Santee
  • Open: Year-round
  • Upcoming showings: “Nope” begins showing on Fri., July 22 + “DC League of Super-Pets” begins showing on Fri., July 29
  • Ticket prices: $12 adults ages 13+, $5 kids ages 5-12, kids 4 and under are free
  • Additional features: Santee Drive-In has 1,000+ spots for cars and two screens with state-of-the-art digital projectors — and two movies are included in your ticket price. Bonus: This site hosts a Santee Swap Meet — a flea market-style sale — every Saturday + Sunday featuring vintage products, collectibles, electronics, clothing, toys, and more.

🎬 Summer Movies in the Park

  • Location: Varies
  • Open: Until Sat., Oct. 29
  • Upcoming showings: “Encanto” on Fri., July 22, at 8 p.m. at Linda Vista Community Park + “The Princess Bride” on Fri., Aug. 26, at 6 p.m. at San Dieguito County Park in Del Mar
  • Ticket prices: Free
  • Additional 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 Theatre

  • Location: 2170 Coronado Ave. (south of Chula Vista)
  • Open: Year-round
  • Upcoming showings: “Where The Crawdads Sing” and “Bullet Train” are coming soon
  • Ticket prices: $1 kids ages 5-9, $10 adults
  • Additional features: Each ticket gets you admission to two movies playing on the screen. That’s right, you get to see two movies for the price of one here, too.

🎬 Cinema Under the Stars

  • Location: 4040 Goldfinch St.
  • Open: Year-round
  • Upcoming showings: “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” at 8 p.m. on Fri., July 29-Sun., July 31
  • 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 discounted ticket rates, first pick on seats, no reservation fees, and discounted tickets for guests.
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