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San Diego Free Outdoor Summer Movies 2011

May 20, 2011

San Diego Free Outdoor Summer Movies 2011 (Photo Courtesy: Balboa Park - Screen on the Green at the San Diego Museum of Art)

Summer movies are known to be big box office blockbusters for Hollywood producers and studios. In San Diego, the mild summer nights provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor movie watching. Best of all, most of the outdoor summer movie screenings are FREE and are usually located in public spaces.

We have selected some of our favorite outdoor summer movie venues for your viewing pleasure.

Please note that the very popular Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills is not part of this list because they charge admission and this article is about free movie screenings. But, you can still click on the link above to get to that movie series.

We know that we might have missed a few free movie series. If we did, please feel free to share that information with the rest of the class in the comment section below.

San Diego Free Outdoor Summer Movies 2011

NEW! The USS Midway offers a FREE movie, “Independence Day”, July 2nd on the flight deck of the USS Midway. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. Movie starts at 8:30 p.m.

County of San Diego Summer Movies in the Park Series  Once again, the County of San Diego is hosting the region’s largest free outdoor summer movies series. The movie series goes from June 3, 2011 to September 17, 2011. Over 40 family-friendly films will be screened outdoors at public venues all over San Diego County. The San Diego County Department of Parks and Recreation has teamed up with the cities of San Diego, National City, La Mesa, San Marcos, Oceanside, Poway and Lemon Grove and the U.S.S. Midway to put on the big show.

Various locations. Please check this link for the full schedule.

Stone Late Night Movie Series – Beer and a movie sure sounds good doesn’t it? How about having a great craft beer in your hand as you swill and watch movies under the stars of Escondido? On Wednesday nights from June 1 – August 31, 2011, the good folks at Stone Brewing are hosting a free, summer-long outdoor cinema screening series.

The screenings start at either 8:00 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. (unless otherwise noted) and are geared for folks ages 21 and up (unless noted). Why the 21 and up rule? Because Stone would like you to enjoy the film with a pint of beer in your hand. Buying beer and food is the least you can do, right? The movies at Stone Brewing cross many genres and styles ranging from “The Princess Bride” to “Blazing Saddles” to the crowd favorite, “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”

Important Tips: Bring lawn chairs and blankets since it can get a bit chilly and there aren’t enough chairs to go around at Stone. Plan to arrive fairly early to the venue since spaces get filled up quickly. Stone distributes wristbands at the host stand in the afternoon, and then beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the top of the stairs.

The list of movies is quite long. Here is a quick link to Stone Brewing’s free movie schedule for the summer.

Stone Brewing is located at 1999 Citracado Parkway in Escondido.

Need Directions?


San Diego Museum of Art Screen on the Green – The San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA) is celebrating its 11th year of offering this popular free summer movie series in Balboa Park. Screen on the Green offers three film screenings that take place at sunset in the heart of Balboa Park. Viewers are invited to “pack a picnic, grab a blanket, and bring their friends” to enjoy a leisurely evening on the east lawn. Traditionally, more than 800 viewers attend each film. This program is free to the public. The art exhibit-related film series begins on July 22nd, continues on August 5th, and concludes on August 19, 2011. All three movies start at 8:00 p.m. and go until 10:00 p.m. The movies are screened on the East Lawn located near the Botanical Building and the Casa del Prado in Balboa Park.

This communal outdoor event is free, and it is very popular with the locals. Be sure to arrive early so you can relax while others scurry and scootch for a good spot later. Be sure to either pack a blanket or your low-level beach chairs so that you are not sitting on the lawn all evening. Remember that bugs live in the grass and itching may occur. Be sure to bring your favorite movie snack with you and why not bring some to share with your movie neighbors?

2011 Screen on the Green Schedule

“The Fountainhead” (1949) – July 22nd
Presented in conjunction with Gustav Stickley and the American Arts and Crafts Movement.

“The Train” (1964) – August 5th
Presented in conjunction with the San Diego Museum of Art’s Permanent Collection.

TBA – August 19th
This film will be presented in collaboration with the San Diego Asian Film Foundation, and will celebrate the Museum’s renowned collection of Asian Art.

The San Diego Museum of Art is located at 1450 El Prado in Balboa Park.


City of La Mesa Summer Movies – The Jewel in the Hills is sponsoring a Dive-In movie on July 15, 2011 and a Movie in the Park on July 29, 2011.

Dive-In Movie – July 15, 2011 at 8:00 p.m.
“Toy Story 3” – La Mesa Municipal Pool, 5100 Memorial Drive

Movie in the Park on July 29, 2011 at 8:00 p.m.
“Despicable Me” – La Mesita Park, 8855 Dallas Street


Santee Lakes Movies by the Lake – This year ’round recreation area located in and around a man-made lake sponsors a very popular summer movie series. Since the climate is hotter as you head east, summer nights by the lake sound very nice to folks who don’t want to chill out too much. The cost? A nominal charge for parking IF you are NOT a resident of Santee.

Movies by the Lakes – 2011

‘Yogi Bear’ – June 24th

“Open Season 3” – July 8th

“The Ant Bully” – July 22nd

“Tangled” – August 5th

“Toy Story 3”- August 19th

Santee Lakes is located at 9310 Fanita Parkway in Santee.

Need directions?

Did we miss your favorite outdoor summer movie screening? If so, please send us a comment and we’ll update this posting.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Josh permalink
    May 31, 2011 3:27 pm

    It’s a shame that if you don’t have kids, or are not a fan of kids films, there are no other options aside from the tiny Stone Canyon Brewery or “Screen on the Green.” SOTG used to be fantastic and ran almost all summer long. Unfortunately, the city has whittled it down to almost nothing. It’s too bad that San Diego can’t get it together like New York, Chicago, San Francisco and most other major cities.

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