Expert Tips for a Great Outdoor Movie Adventure

Exploring local parks, trying new things, getting out to interact with your community—all these things make excellent summer activities with the family. Why not combine them all for a family-friendly outdoor movie night? 

Many venues offer movie nights throughout the summer, featuring films that appeal to a wide range of ages. Rather than curling up on the couch again, head out for an adventure and see a new movie on the big (outdoor) screen! Before you head out, ensure you’re prepared to make the most of the evening with these tips.


Choose Your Event Wisely

Date and Time

If your area offers various experiences, choose one where the date and time don’t interfere too much with your other plans. Kids can have lots of fun staying up late, but if they have summer school bright and early the following day, it’ll be challenging to recover. However, a showing in the middle of the week might be less crowded, so weigh your options.


Not all outdoor movie locations are created equal. If you’re looking in your area, chances are you’re familiar with the venue options. Does the proposed park have a lot of hills that will get in the way of the screen? Does the open space back up to the interstate, thus ruining your pleasant experience? Are there restrooms or a spot for portable toilets to set up? Just because an outdoor movie is offered in a location doesn’t mean it’s going to be successful, so choose wisely. If you’re unsure, try to scope out the potential venues ahead of time.


Different experiences will offer different films, and just because they’re all rated as “family friendly” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t investigate further. Think about what your kids can handle and choose an appropriate film. Similarly, if the plot is complicated and your child likes to ask a million “What’s happening now? Who’s that?” questions, consider covering the basics ahead of time so that everyone can enjoy the movie when you’re there.


Get There Early


If the event is popular, chances are good that parking will be very crowded. Instead of parking as close as possible to the field, choose a spot about equidistant between where you’ll be sitting and the parking area exit. That way, you’ll get to your car and exit a bit faster than those who chose to be close to only one or the other. Back into your spot if you can for an even quicker getaway.


Depending on your family’s needs, you may want to sit closer to the screen, the bathrooms, or the emptier area where fewer people sit. For wiggly little kids, having some space close by to run around when the movie gets boring can be helpful. On the other hand, sitting closer to the screen can make the experience more immersive for the older kids looking forward to a family adventure. If you get there early enough, you’ll have your pick of spots.

While You Wait

Since you’re arriving early, you’ll want to have planned activities to do while you wait. Many parks have playgrounds that can entertain the kids. Otherwise, bring a few small activity packs that can help keep everyone occupied. A deck of cards is great for older kids, coloring books for little ones, and even a scavenger hunt page to get everyone up and moving around the area is an excellent idea for staying active pre-movie.


Pack for Comfort

Food and Drinks

Most venues allow you to bring your own food and drinks. Check regulations. If this is an option, you’ll save time and money by skipping the concession lines. Pack special items for your kids to add to the memorable experience, and make sure to include a small trash bag to keep your area clean. Include some protein in the snacks so small tummies make it through the night without a meltdown.


Depending on the event location, blankets or folding chairs might be more appropriate for seating options, so check the suggestions from the venue. While chairs are more comfortable, be aware that you might block those sitting behind you if you choose a spot close to the screen. Think about how much gear you can carry back and forth from the car, too.

Clothing and Other Comfort Items

Most movie nights happen at dusk or after dark. So, pack a light jacket for everyone to wear when it gets chilly. Earplugs or cotton balls can help dampen the noise if your kids are bothered by the movie or the crowds, and a flashlight enables you to find your way back to the car at the end of the night.

With a little preparation, you’ll be able to enjoy a family movie night outdoors in your local area this summer and early fall!


This content is brought to you by Metroparks. One of America’s premier metropolitan park systems, the Huron-Clinton Metroparks have served the people of Southeast Michigan since 1940. Managed by the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority, the Metroparks are made up of 13 properties in Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties. The Metroparks are open 365 days a year and encompass 25,000 acres of nature and recreational facilities. Each year more than 1.5 million people engage with the Metroparks to enjoy amenities such as picnicking, fishing, swimming, boating, hiking, nature study, biking, golf, disc golf, cross country skiing, sledding, snowshoeing and a diversity of outdoor programs and special events. The Metroparks also provide educational resources on science, nature, history and the environment. Learn more at

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