Rooftop films in Williamsburg. (Photograph by Kevin Cooley)
What more perfect New York experience is there than pursuing the city’s favorite leisure activity on the world’s most glorious real-life soundstage? An outdoor summer film series is better than any drive-in. The best-known option, at Bryant Park, is free, fun, gorgeous—but sadly overwhelmed nowadays. So lay your blanket down at one of these less populated alternatives.
Fridays at 9 p.m., through September 3
The Old American Can Factory, 3rd Street at Third Avenue, Brooklyn
Williamsburg hipsters turn up their noses at summer blockbusters at this eclectic series of arty diversions. Short films grouped by themes like “Youth Power” or “Un-American Films” are screened against the city skyline on a scruffy Gowanus rooftop.
BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK SUMMER FILM SERIES
Thursdays at 8:45 p.m., July 8 to August 12
Empire–Fulton Ferry State Park
Other series may show no-brainer New York films like Dog Day Afternoon and Radio Days, but none offers a view of the Brooklyn Bridge or beach-chair rental. Catered by the local restaurant Rice, this series is thoroughly civilized and eco-friendly, offering free valet parking—for bikes only. But the perfect date begins with a sunset water-taxi ride from Pier 11 at South Street Seaport.
July 7 to August 27, Hudson River Park
Wednesdays at 8 p.m., Pier 54, at 13th Street
Fridays at 8 p.m., Pier 25, at North Moore Street