Free & Cheap Summer Movies w/Kids

Looking for inexpensive family entertainment this summer? San Diego’s summer movie specials make it easy to build memories with your kids without busting your wallet.

You can catch free and cheap kid-friendly movies all over town and in all kinds of places, from outdoor movies on the beach to movies on the Midway. Enjoy movies from your lawn chair at the lake or snuggle into a luxury lounge chair to catch a family-friendly flick.

Movies in a Pool

Photo Credit: City of Poway Parks Department

Summer Movies in the Pool

The Summer Movies in the Park series includes movies in municipal pools. This summer families can enjoy FREE movies while floating. On July 7th The Lion King will be shown in the Las Palmas Pool, National City and Moana will be shown on July 20th at the La Mesa Pool.

Kroc Center Dive-in Movies

Free to Kroc Center members and just $10 per person to non members, enjoy swimming and movie watching on Wednesdays throughout the summer. The event kicks off on Wednesday, June 20 with the screening of Hotel Transylvania 2, followed by Wednesday, July 25: Finding Dory and Wednesday, August 15 with a showing of Wreck It Ralph

Movies at the Lake

Photo Credit: Santee Lakes

Santee Lakes hosts a summer movie series and this Friday’s film is LEGO Batman. The pre-movie fun starts at 6 p.m. with games and crafts for the kids.

Bring your blanket and enjoy this movie under the stars! Parking is $10 per carload. We like to make it a day, playing at the splash grounds, feeding the ducks and having a picnic dinner. 🙂


Movies on the Beach

Photo Credit: Catamaran Hotel

The Catamaran Hotel’s Summer Movies on the Bay continues tomorrow with a sunset showing of Inside Out. These free movies are shown on the north side of the pier overlooking the bay each Monday, Wednesday and Sunday.

The Hotel Del’s Movies on the Beach series gives viewers a few different ways to watch under the stars. General admission beach chairs are available for $20 per person. There is also a VIP family movie package available including a private beach bonfire, s’mores for 4 people, two Del Beach beach chairs and a Del Beach daybed. This package must be reserved in advance. Cost is $300.

The Hotel Del movie lineup includes  The Lego Ninjago Movie on July 7th,  Coco on July 14th and Star Wars – The Last Jedi on July 21st.


Movies in the Theater

Luxury cinemas are typically not in the picture when it comes to bringing my kids to the movies, but thanks to the Cinepolis Summer Kids Series movies like Paddington 2, Despicable Me and The Emoji Movie are just $3 per ticket. You do need to purchase the tickets in advance, but how fun is this idea for a summer play date?

Of course we love, love, love our traditional theaters that also offer sweet movies all summer long for only $1 per ticket!

Regal’s Summer Movie Express shows films like Sing, Hop and Alvin and the Chipmunks for just $1 every Tuesday and Thursday.

Ultrastar Cinemas in Mission Valley also offers a Summer Kids Series with $1 movies each week, Monday through Thursday. Upcoming showings include Boss Baby, Ferdinand and Captain Underpants.

Reading Cinemas in Clairemont is hosting its Reel Kids Summer Movie Festival now with $1 summer films as well. Happy Feet, Kung Fu Panda and Shrek 2 are on the roster.

Movies in the Park

San Diego parks from Oceanside to OB participate in the Summer Movies in the Park series. Each park handles their movie night a little differently. We have loved being on the USS Midway for a movie (next up, Hidden Figures on July 13), checking out the snakes and animal pelts on display at Sweetwater Regional Park before the start of their movies, and enjoying the pre-movie jumpies and faces painting at Scripps Ranch Community Park.

All movies are free and there are more than 100 shown from the end of May into October. Find the full list here.

And if you can’t find something you want to see through the parks department programs, check out the Liberty Station Outdoor Movie Series on the second Saturday of each month from May through October. The six curated films reflect the diverse arts and culture offerings at the growing Arts District at Liberty Station and appeal to film lovers of all ages. Evenings feature surprise pop-up performances or activities along with curated shorts preceding the feature film. Next up is Wonder Woman on July 14th.



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