On The Town

Top Places to Catch an Outdoor Movie This Summer

Unwind from a day in the sun with a flick under the stars.

These days we’re used to watching movies on much smaller screens, but there’s something inherently classic about open-air cinema. With warm breezes, ambient city sounds, and the requisite abundance of salty snacks, outdoor film fests are an ideal way to spend a summer night. Whether you’re hoping to catch a family-friendly flick on the water or an action-packed thriller at a drive-in, grab a blanket and head to any one of these community outposts to enjoy an entertaining evening after dark.

Summer Movies at The Wine Bin
May 27- Oct. 29:
Post up in the parking lot at The Wine Bin in Ellicott City Saturday nights this summer to enjoy timeless titles like Sixteen Candles and Top Gun as well as more modern comedies like Chef and Pitch Perfect. As an added perk, the shop offers a special wine tasting if you show up early, before the black-and-white countdown starts to circle onscreen. 8390 Main St., Ellicott City, Free, 410-465-7804

Pics in the Park
May 28-Sept. 24:
Kick off your flip-flops and relax on the lawn in Center Plaza at this Saturday-evening soiree hosted by the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore. Pack a chair, picnic under the stars, and enjoy titles like ’80s knee-slapper Caddyshack and action-adventure Avengers: Age of Ultron. 222 N. Charles St., Free, 410-244-1030

Bengies Drive-In
May 30-Sept. 5:
Now celebrating its 60th anniversary, this Eastside mainstay boasts the biggest screen in the country. Complete with an old-school marquee, radio-broadcast sound system, double and triple features, and time-honored snack prices (candy starts at 40 cents), the landmark screams nostalgia. Summer showings vary, and this weekend’s featured flicks include the likes of Now You See Me 2, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and X-Men: Apocalypse. 3417 Eastern Blvd., $5-10, 410-687-5627

Family-Friendly Movies in Downtown Bel Air
June 10-Aug. 26: With tykes in tow, pack up your lawn chairs and claim a spot for these Friday-night films at Shamrock Park in Bel Air. The family-friendly screenings feature pre-movie entertainment (think Taekwondo and Irish dancing lessons) and free popcorn for all. Pan, The Good Dinosaur, and Zootopia are among the movies to look forward to this season. Lee Way and North Hickory Ave., Bel Air, Free, 443-823-1797

Summer Moonlight Movie Series
June 10-Aug. 19:
Though The Shops at Kenilworth is in the midst of a major renovation (the site will soon house a new food marketplace and the relocated Trader Joe’s), its moonlight screenings will still be in full effect this summer. The Friday-night lineup lists family-friendly films like Minions, Inside Out, and Zootopia alongside more edge-of-your-seat picks like Jurassic World and Star Wars-The Force Awakens. 800 Kenilworth Dr., Towson, Free, 410-321-1909

TGIF Movie Night
June 10-Aug. 26:
Family-run Basignani Winery is bringing this Friday-night film fest back to its vineyard in Sparks this summer, with lighthearted pics like Aloha, Under the Tuscan Sun, A League of their Own, and The Intern scheduled to play on its inflatable pop-up screen. The price of admission includes theatre-style popcorn and samples of the winery’s seasonal blends. The staff also sells made-to-order wood-fired pizzas if you forget to pack a picnic. 15722 Falls Rd., Sparks, $12, 410-472-0703

Movie Night on Carroll Creek
June 17-Oct. 21:
Head to the picturesque Carroll Creek amphitheater, which has its own stadium-style seating built-in, to enjoy a monthly lineup of oldies-but-goodies like The Goonies, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Back to the Future. Mark your calendar for Halloween in October, when the park will close out the series with a double feature of creepy classics Hocus Pocus and Beetlejuice. 47 E. All Saints St., Frederick, Free, 301-698-8118

Little Italy Open Air Film Fest
July 1-Aug. 26:
One of Little Italy’s most popular events, this summer series annually displays classics like Moonstruck and Cinema Paradiso onto the side of Ciao Bella Restaurant. The festival originated in 1999 after late neighborhood icon “Mr. John” Pente graciously agreed to let the community set up a projector on the third floor of his home across the street. Dine al fresco at one of the neighboring eateries before heading to the Da Mimmo parking lot to munch on free popcorn and watch flicks like Goldfinger, Star Wars, and Baltimore classic Diner every Friday through July and August. 217 S. High St., Free, 410-727-6876

AVAM Flicks from the Hill
July 7-Aug. 25: In keeping with its innovative spirit, the American Visionary Art museum transforms Federal Hill into a natural amphitheater for its annual film fest. Dubbed one of the “World’s Best Free Things to Do” by Travel + Leisure magazine, the museum stations a 30-foot widescreen on the side of the building that is visible to movie-goers seated on the hill. Thursdays in July and August, catch films like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Karate Kid, and American Graffiti—which are all inspired by the AVAM’s current collections. 800 Key Hwy., Free, 410-244-1900

Free Movies at Mount Vernon Place
Aug. 3-24:
Wednesday nights in August, stick around Mt. Vernon Place after dark to enjoy this community get-together. With the Washington Monument as its backdrop, the film fest takes place on the conservancy’s West Square. Beloved blockbusters on-deck this season include recent Oscar nominees Brooklyn, Joy, and The Martian. 699 Washington Pl., Free, 410-962-5070

Films on The Pier
July 6-24:
In the heart of Fells Point, with the glow of the Domino Sugar sign in the distance and the sound of water taxis whizzing by, grab a few friends and assemble on Broadway Pier to catch a movie on the waterfront. The annual event—habitually hosted by The Sound Garden on Wednesday nights throughout the summer—will project fan-favorite films like Mad Max: Fury Road, Creed, Deadpool, Trainwreck, and The Revenent on a 300-foot jumbo screen stationed at the edge of the pier. Here’s hoping that the sound of construction from Kevin Plank’s in-the-works Sagamore Pendry Hotel doesn’t take away from the action unfolding onscreen. 1600 Thames St., 410-563-901