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Family Outdoor Movie Nights in Arkansas


Outdoor family movie nights have become incredibly popular lately, and it’s no wonder why. They combine the magic of watching movies with the great outdoors, creating an unforgettable experience for everyone. The pleasant weather in Arkansas offers the perfect backdrop for outdoor movie adventures almost year-round.

Imagine sitting under the starry sky while enjoying your favorite films with your loved ones. It’s a fun family or neighborhood event that will create lasting memories while also offering a break from the usual indoor routines and screens. So, grab your popcorn and blankets and experience outdoor movie magic in Arkansas!

Backyard Family Movies

Years ago, my husband and I were vacationing in Florida, and the resort played movies on a big screen by the swimming pool every Friday and Saturday night. We would sit on our balcony and people-watch as everyone swam, splashed and enjoyed a family-friendly movie. We didn’t have kids then, but it looked fun. I knew Arkansas nights were mild and perfect for something similar, so I filed the idea in my brain for another time.

Fast forward to 2023 when I discovered that purchasing a quality movie projector for under one hundred dollars was possible! Not only are they affordable, but they can also easily connect to a DVD player, a phone, a Roku or another streaming device. Pair that with a 6-year-old who loves family movie night, and a new backyard tradition was born.

Setting up movie night isn’t difficult, and you don’t need much more than a projector. You can project the movie onto the side of your house, a sheet, or like we did, the back of our camper. Then simply grab some chairs, a blanket and plenty of popcorn and you are ready for an unforgettable movie night.

The best part is that the setup is portable. All you need is access to electricity, and you can watch movies almost anywhere. We recently watched a movie at our campsite on Greers Ferry Lake, but my favorite was the night we played a movie while we swam in our pool.

Drive-In Movies

Drive-In theaters are a classic way to enjoy a movie outside and require less investment than purchasing a projector. The Kenda Drive-In in Marshall and the Stone Drive-In in Mountain View have been showing movies for nearly 60 years. You can take your kids to enjoy a movie in the same setting as their parents, grandparents and maybe even great-grandparents did. You can bring your own snacks or visit the snack bar.

Outdoor Movies in the Park

If making your own backyard movie night isn’t feasible, cities across Arkansas offer free movies in parks throughout the summer and fall months. This list is a sampling of many offerings across the state. Check with your local parks department if your city isn’t listed below.

Searcy Movies in the Park – Through August 11
Depot Park State – Russellville – Through October
ASU-Newport Movies in the Park – Through September
Loberg Park – Hardy – Through November
Little Rock Movies in the Park – Through July 29
Arkansas State Parks – Dates and times vary by park
Movies In Pocket Park – Little Rock
Mountain Home Movies in the Park

Movie night is always fun, even if you enjoy the movie in your living room. It’s more about spending time with family and making memories but enjoying a movie outdoors is a way to make it truly memorable.

Cover photo courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.

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Julie Kohl works from home as a writer and teaches art part-time at a local private school. A former Yankee who was "converted" to the south by her husband, Julie has grasped on to rural life in a sleepy, blink-your-eyes-and-you'll-miss-it town in central Arkansas where they raise chickens, farm hay and bake bread. Julie loves adventure and sharing it with her husband and son. They frequent the trails, campgrounds and parks of Arkansas, always on the hunt for new adventures and new stories to share. Learn more on her blog Seek Adventures Media.

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