Thursday, June 22, 2023

LA's Best Outdoor Movie Venues

Pack a picnic, grab a blanket – outdoor movie season is here! Ever since the first drive-in movie theatre opened in New Jersey in 1933, movies under the stars have been a favorite summer tradition. Today, outdoor movies are more popular than ever, with parks, rooftops, and even a cemetery popping up screens, many just a short distance from Circa. A handful of Southern California’s iconic vintage drive-ins are still open for business, retrofitted for today’s audience with state-of-the art projectors and sound systems. Many venues offer food trucks and concession stands, or you can bring your own moveable feast. Check websites for movie schedules and other details.

Rooftop Cinema Club DTLA outdoor movies near Circa residences in downtown Los Angeles

Rooftop Cinema Club DTLA 888 S Olive St. 4th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90014

Thanks to a new projector, Rooftop Cinema Club DTLA is now able to screen the newest releases, including some films still in theaters as part of their hand-picked program, Once you book your screening, arrive early to take in the sun setting over downtown LA. Select your seats and treat yourself to classic cinema concessions including fresh popcorn (vegan), candy and soft drinks. For a more substantial fare, they also offer food such as hot dogs, pretzels, and nachos. When the movie starts, you’ll be able to live completely in those movie moments with state-of-the-art wireless headphones and an amazing view of the big screen. 

Rooftop Cinema Club Arts District outdoor movies near Circa residences in downtown Los Angeles

Rooftop Cinema Club Arts District ROW DTLA Building 1, 777 S Alameda St. Los Angeles, CA 90021

Enjoy the ultimate open-air cinema experience in the heart of DTLA’s Arts District. With skyline views from a 5th floor terrace, this is the perfect place for cinema with a cityscape. Doors open 30 minutes before the screening, allowing plenty of time to grab your headphones, select a seat and enjoy the rooftop experience. Treat yourself to cinema snack favorites from the concessions stand, including fresh popcorn (vegan), pretzels, candy and soft drinks. For more substantial fare, Pikunico restaurant is offering a special take-out perk for Rooftop Cinema Club attendees, and Hi-Lo Liquor is bringing the best of the local craft beer scene, regional wines, hard kombuchas and refreshing spritz and mocktail concoctions to the cinema.

The Hollywood Roosevelt outdoor movies near Circa residences in downtown Los Angeles

Tropicana Movie Nights The Hollywood Roosevelt 7000 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028

The iconic Hockney hand-painted pool under the neon sign at The Hollywood Roosevelt provides a unique screening experience for their famous Movie Nights. Immerse yourself in this “Dive-in” movie atmosphere when you purchase your spot at the Tropicana Pool, Food and beverage are available to order at the bar to be delivered to your table. Advanced ticket purchase required, with all sales final 8 hours prior to showtime. 

Cinespia Hollywood Forever Cemetery outdoor movies near Circa residences in downtown Los Angeles

Cinespia Hollywood Forever Cemetery 6000 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90038

Movie screenings are held outdoors on Fairbanks Lawn, an open grassy field inside Hollywood Forever Cemetery. A DJ will be spinning music as the sun sets, and again after the movie. Bring blankets, pillows or low chairs that have a seat that rests on the ground with a low back. A small tarp underneath your blanket is recommended since the ground can get damp. Restrooms are available on-site. You are welcome to pack your own picnic with food, beer and wine, but no hard liquor is permitted. They will also sell food onsite. Sorry – only ESA and service dogs on leashes are welcome at the screenings.

Street Food Cinema outdoor movies near Circa residences in downtown Los Angeles

Street Food Cinema Various Locations

Street Food Cinema, LA’s largest outdoor cinema and music series, is back for its 12th outdoor season. More than just a movie screening, the series showcases local food trucks and live bands, and includes interactive audience games, concessions, themed photo ops, local vendors, and special guest appearances. Most locations also feature a full bar and offer a dog-friendly atmosphere!

Melrose Rooftop Theatre outdoor movies near Circa residences in downtown Los Angeles

Melrose Rooftop Theatre 603 N La Cienega Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90069

Melrose Rooftop Theatre (MRT) is a unique outdoor cinema experience in the heart of West Hollywood’s fashion and design precinct. The theatre is located on the rooftop of E.P. & L.P. with entry at 603 N La Cienega Blvd. MRT rotates through an extensive movie catalog consisting of cult classics and new releases alike. The cinema utilizes wireless technology with each guest receiving individual headsets and a personal beanbag chair to maximize the complete cinematic experience. They also offer a variety of ticketing options that allow you to turn movie night into a full evening experience, such as Dinner & A Movie and Movie Night for Two.

Rubidoux Drive-In outdoor movies near Circa residences in downtown Los Angeles

Rubidoux Drive-In 3770 Opal St. Riverside, CA 92509

The Rubidoux, with its original 1948 screen tower still standing tall, is one of the last classic drive-in theaters remaining in Southern California. Though it retains much of its original character, time has transformed this gem into a thoroughly modern outdoor theater. The incorporation of FM transmitters and Technalight digital projection ensures the best possible picture and sound available. The box office and snack bar have gotten a new treatment as well, and are now reminiscent of the theatre’s original postwar Route 66 heritage.

Van Buren Drive-In Theatre Photo credit Inland Empire dot com outdoor movies near Circa residences in downtown Los Angeles

Van Buren Drive-In Theater 3035 Van Buren Blvd. Riverside, CA 92503

Built on the site of a former orange ranch and named for its location on Van Buren Blvd. in the historic Arlington district of Riverside, the Van Buren Drive-in Theater opened in 1964 with a single screen. Today, the theater has been completely renovated, featuring the latest drive-in theater technology including FM transmitters, Technalight, and a state-of-the-art projection system. The most striking element of this restoration is the art mural displayed on the original screen tower depicting a vista of 1930s era Riverside, reminiscent of vintage orange crate labels so prized by collectors today.

Vineland Drive-in / Photo credit Cinema Treasures outdoor movies near Circa residences in downtown Los Angeles

Vineland Drive-in 443 Vineland Ave. City of Industry, CA 91746

A real Southern California icon, the Vineland Drive-In opened in 1955 with James Mason in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and in 1981, it expanded to become a 4-screen theatre with a car capacity of 1,700. In order to listen to your movie, an FM radio is needed. (Car radio or portable radio). A full concession stand is available with all your favorite movie snacks including pizza, hot dogs, nachos, burgers, and popcorn.

Photo Credits:

Photo #1 Street Food Cinema 

Photo #2: Rooftop Cinema Club DTLA 

Photo #3: Rooftop Cinema Club Arts District

Photo #4: The Hollywood Roosevelt

Photo #5: Cinespia

Photo #6: Street Food Cinema

Photo #7: Melrose Rooftop Theatre

Photo #8: Rubidoux Drive-In

Photo #9: Van Buren Drive-In Theatre / Inland Empire dot com

Photo #10: Vineland Drive-in / Cinema Treasures


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