Blogger, Writer, Urban Adventurer
When I was young, we lived overseas with very little access to television. There was a small video rental place and my parents would rent movies that we would watch together in the evenings. When we moved back to the United States, we started going to the movies as a family every Friday night. I have so many fond memories of seeing every Disney or Pixar film on the big screen.
In today’s world, you can stream just about anything, just about anywhere, but there is nothing that can replace the smell of buttery popcorn, the experience of true surround sound, and seeing a film played out larger than life in a real deal movie theater. I want our kids to have the same love of film that I do, which means taking them to the movies! These are our family’s favorite movie theaters in and around Houston to do just that.
Best lunch & a show theater: Studio Movie Grill
Studio Movie Grill City Centre822 Town and Country Blvd
Houston, TXThis theater has figured it out. Not only does Studio Movie Grill show a number of new releases, but they often have showings mid-morning, which is perfect timing for this mama. It’s suggested that you arrive 20 minutes before the show so you can get your tickets, grab a seat and place a meal order. You pay your bill as the credits start to roll. Of course, if you are not in the mood to dine, no problem. They don’t require you to purchase any food, but having that option is always nice. If you purchase your tickets ahead of time online, you can even pick your seats (lounge with tray or reclining lounge with tray)—very VIP.
Insider tip: During the summer they have $1 movies on weekdays that are fantastic for cooling off and being the “fun” mom who takes kids to the movies in the middle of the day! They also often screen older family films, so keep an eye on their website.
Best chain theater: Edwards Greenway
Edwards Greenway Grand Palace 24 & RPX3839 Weslayan St
Houston, TXSometimes, you just need to be able to hop in the car and head to a movie without much fuss. We enjoy Edwards Greenway because of its central Houston location, the 24 screens showing all manner of movies at all times during the day, and the proximity to a number of restaurants in the River Oaks/Upper Kirby area. Of course, there is also the option of ice cream just outside the theater entrance if you can’t wait for dinner. If you really, really like the idea of reserved seating, they have that option too with select films in the fancier RPX theater.
Insider tip: Edwards is part of the Regal Entertainment Group. We signed up for their free rewards card and are routinely earning free popcorn and drinks. I guess that is a perk of being a family of five, we rack up the points pretty quick!
Best artsy theater: Landmark’s River Oaks Theater
River Oaks Theatre2009 West Gray Street
Houston, TXOkay, okay. When you hear the word “artsy” you don’t often think of kids, but I love this one for a few reasons. For one, this is the place you are going to catch the non-blockbusters that will be soon talked about Oscar contenders. It is also where you will get to see documentaries like the recent, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Landmark even screens family classics from time-to-time (i.e. Beetlejuice coming this October). If you want to give your kids an intimate, small theater experience instead of that megaplex they’re used to, this spot is your best bet.
Insider tip: Occasionally, some of the movies play mid-morning, which can be a fantastic excuse to go see a “grown up film” with a friend while the kids are in school. They will never be the wiser that you played hooky from the everyday to-do-list to see a movie. Plus, no need for a babysitter if you can sneak in a showing during the day.
Best VIP experience: iPic Theaters
iPic Theaters4444 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TXI once received a gift certificate to iPic, and let me tell y’all, it was an EXPERIENCE. This luxe theater is nestled in an equally luxe outdoor shopping center in the heart of River Oaks. After picking out your seats ahead of time (choose from premium or premium plus seats), you’ll arrive, snuggle under a blanket and recline back into a seat so comfy it could almost turn into nap time (that is, if I didn’t love movies so much). In Premium Plus seating, you’ll get waiters, a full menu and the fun option of ordering adult beverages. While it’s a high dollar way to see a movie, you can simply opt for the premium seats (no reclining, no food) for a more comparable price.
Insider tip: They tend to cater to more adults than kids, but when they do have a family-friendly movie, this is a perfect splurge for a birthday or another special family occasion. It’s guaranteed to blow their little minds.
Best drive-in movie: Showboat Drive-In
Showboat Drive-In22422 Farm to Market 2920
Hockley, TXIf you want to try something truly nostalgic (and you are up for a bit of a drive), the Showboat Drive-In in Hockley just outside of Tomball is the place for you. They are only open on weekends (Friday through Sunday) and do play new releases. There are two screens featuring HD Digital Cinema, and you guessed it, audio on the radio! No drive-in would be complete without a full snack bar and diner-style kitchen, but they do ask that you do not bring in any outside food as tempting as it may be. You can bring lawn chairs to place in front of your car, or put that minivan to good use, stowing the seats for maximum drive-in effect.
Insider tip: The drive-in only offers double-features. Two movies for the price of one ticket ($6 for kids and $8 for adults)? Yes, please!
Best for cinematic events: Alamo Drafthouse
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema2707 Commercial Center Blvd
Katy, TXThis Austin-based chain has a location at LaCenterra in Katy (and Sugar Land very soon), which is lucky for local families! Alamo offers an entire suite of “Family” programming, from Kids Camp during holiday breaks (movie tickets are just $1, $3 or $5!) to download-able movie activity sheets and a My First Movie certificate. The Alamo For All program is both sensory-friendly and a great option for young families with babies who might need to move around a bit with their tyke during the film.
Insider tips: Keep an eye on the calendar for Alamo Drafthouse events. We’re talking quote-alongs, sing-alongs, screenings of retro family favorites, and fun specials like the All-You-Can-Eat-Cereal buffet paired with a morning movie screening, or movie premiere family parties, which always include games, crafts and activities before a movie hits the big screen.
Where to find sensory-friendly screenings:
Want lights up, lower sound and a little more freedom for chatter and movement? You can find it at these accommodating theaters in the area:
• ShowBiz Cinema Kingwood: 2nd Saturday of the month at 9:30am.
• AMC Theatre Sensory-Friendly Film Program (3 Houston locations): 2nd & 4th Saturdays for family movies; Tuesday evenings for adult audiences.
• Studio Movie Grill Special Needs Screening: Shown at 11am; find future dates on the Studio Movie Grill website.
• Alamo Drafthouse Alamo for All: First screening every Tuesday that starts before 2pm.
Main image: Fotolia/badahos
Originally Published on Mommy Nearest