The UItimate Summer Family Movie List

Three days into summer break and I’m all, “Wait, why was this cool again?”

Can we swim? Can you make me a sandwich? I’m thirsty. Can you tie this? Can you fix this? I’m hungry. Sophie peed. I need a towel. I need a cup. I need a napkin. I’m bored. 

I forgot how quickly it escalates.

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I’m happy to report summer enthusiasm still measures in the upper quartile though. I figured we simply could not move forward with summer festivities though without a good list of summer family movies, and Friday’s a perfectly good day to get it done. One of my favorite summer rituals is watching movies when we’re trapped in the cabin on a rainy day up north, and up there we do it old school style–not pulled from Netflix or streamed from Amazon, but…wait for it…we insert a DVD into a player. Gasp. And half the fun is rifling through the stack of DVDS–summer favorites that have been collected for rainy days and quiet nights.

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With no further ado…

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And why yes, I do have a thing for old Lindsay Lohan movies.

Wanna make your summer movie night even better? Try these:

1. Move all the furniture in the family room and throw pillows, couch cushions and sleeping bags on the floor. Make a movie fort.
2. Lead up to movie night. Make “Movie Night” flyers and hang them around the house before the event and pass out homemade tickets (kids love these jobs!)
3. Make individual popcorn bags (cute little red and white stripe bags seen in above photo, perfectly sized for toddler portions, available in the dollar section at Target currently)
4. Pajama prerequisite.
5. Make S’mores sundaes. Chocolate ice cream, drizzled with chocolate sauce, sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs and those freeze-dried marshmallows (you can buy them in the hot cocoa aisle).

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6. Drag movie setup outside, hang twinkle lights, invite neighbors and throw a big outdoor movie party. This one’s a lot, I know. So, also okay if you think about it, pretend you did it and then don’t.

Did I miss an amazing summer movie on my list? Have a summer movie ritual that we just have to try? Tell me, tell me!


Leave a Comment
  1. Many gems you are missing!

    The Apple Dumpling Gang
    The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again
    Hot Lead and Cold Feet
    The Ugly Dachshund ( Dean Jones — so many wonderful family movies!)
    Support Your Local Sheriff!
    Swiss Family Robinson
    Homeward Bound
    Honey I Shrunk the Kids

    And many more — old movies are the best for family movie night!

  2. The Sandlot!!! :)

  3. dallimomma says:

    This would be for when your kids are a little older but my kids watched the heck out of “Wild Hears Can’t be Broken”. So good.

  4. Great list! I would add Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer :) it’s a favorite around here with my four and inspires Big Foot hunts and art shows! Also, all of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies are a hit 😉

    I love the idea of hanging flyers and having tickets! Totally doing this, thank you! I think I’ll also add a concession stand and give the kids fake money to buy their snacks and drinks!

  5. Oh oh two more! I forgot The Sandlot and Angels in the Outfield! Holy childhood crushes, haha!

  6. Sandlot!! Goonies, Night at the Museum….love them all!

  7. Love this list. We do family movie night every Saturday night, but these are great ideas to ramp it up for summer. I’d also add: Annie (the original), Goonies, Wizard of Oz, and The Princess Bride.

  8. Meet me in St. Louis
    Hello Dolly

  9. Stephanie says:

    City of Ember is a good one, too. Snowball Express, Spirit, Jump In, Akeelah and the Bee, Curious George, Hannah Montana the Movie, Eight Below, The Tale of Despereaux…

  10. I think this sounds like one of the easier events you have ever shared. I have introduced my grandkids to the Shirley Temple, Mary Poppins movies. You make it much more a time of anticipation and I’m going to do that for the next time they are coming

  11. I noticed you forgot Sandlot. Honest mistake I’m sure. :)

    The last few summers our athletic department has done a summer movie night the beginning of August before football starts. Families are invited to bring blankets, and they have popcorn, and we watch a movie on the jumbotron. It’s pretty amazing. Last summer was Sandlot and it was a perfect summer night.

  12. I don’t have small children anymore (29 & 26! My 29 year old has Down Syndrome.), but I’m ready to pull these movies out to watch myself! Your list is great. We liked Dunston Checks In and for an old movie, The Music Man.

  13. cindy cole says:

    More movie favorites from the archives: Harriet the Spy!!! Matilda…..It’s a little scary but my 3 littles watched (I can’t believe I let them–haha) it and we still talk about that movie–they are grown now….It’s just crazy good.
    Dennis the Menis!!
    James and the Giant peach!
    The Borrowers
    All great movies!!

  14. At ages 18 and 16, our kids still look forward to Family Movie Night. I agree on Matilda – both kids loved that one. Don’t forget Camp Rock – decent little Disney one – and Uncle Buck. Might as well introduce them to John Hughes at an early age! 😉

  15. bedknobs and broomsticks!

  16. second Sandlot – lovely great movie –
    and who don’t have the GOONIES listed?? That is classic!!
    Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Dick Van Dyke hysterical!!
    Sound of MUSIC – long movie can split over naps
    Heidi ??
    Anne of Green Gables???

    ya gots to add some sista!!

  17. Heather says:

    My nieces are 11 and 13. They spend some time with me after school once or twice a week and a day here or there during the summer. My house is strictly veg out in front of the tv time for them as their parents are really active folks. They are developing a love for musicals so I try to record classical old musicals for them to watch. Last Summer I gave them nightmares over Little Shop of Horrors. I had costumed the musical on stage so I didn’t think about how graphic the movie version was. Oops. For the past six months though, they mostly want to watch Hey Jessie… I think it’s a Disney show. I just roll with it.

  18. Jenny L. says:

    You make everything so fun. I wish I still had little ones to entertain with your great ideas. And totally off subject – Lainey is starting to look at lot like her big brothers and Nella is the image of you. Dash has to grow a little before you get my opinion on who he looks like (because my opinion is so important, ha!). Always love your blog and beautiful family!

  19. Matilda. We can watch it over and over.

  20. Carolyn says:

    Harry and the hendersons❤️

  21. Stacey Muller says:

    ALL of the American Girl movies! May not keep Dash’s attention, but I am sure Lainey will love them!!

  22. If you can get your hands on the Anne of Green Gables movies, do it. Lainey is perfect age for the first two in the series. My kids are now in their 20’s and we still watch them every year. “Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it. “

  23. Some Like it Hot (skip the first part in Chicago, and skip the shooting in Florida – other than that, totally child-proof!). My 9 and 10 year old girls LOVE it and can watch it over and overa again.

  24. Throw in The Long Long Trailer with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz and you’ll be great. Pretend, if you need to, that you are camping in the longest trailer in the USA…..never been camping that we have not watched it. My now 13 year old grandson loves to scream TRAILER BRAKES! TRAILER BRAKES!!!!
    You will be blessed.

  25. My grandkids 7,9 and 11 have discovered Dennis the Menace (kind of old with grumpy old men actor) and they love it. It’s hilarious. Also I would recommend the little princess, even the boys like it. (Though they first complained). Then, Now and Then (a girlfriend sweet movie), Monkey Trouble, (all would love), Uncle Buck, Camp Nowwhere, Adventures in Babysitting, Homeward Bound, Old Yeller, but my grandson kind of cried a bit over that, Pollyanna, and for Lainey… Maybe in a year or? My Father the Hero is hilarious. Something about the old 80-90s movie. My older children who are 36 and 38 have 5&6 children. They are having so much fun resurrecting their old favourite which they found they still love. Oh another fabulous, Fly Away where girl find saves and teaches orphaned geese to fly… Home Alone and Prancer (who doesn’t like a reindeer movie in July!)

  26. Haha! We still do it the “old fashioned” way all year long….we frequent the public library at least two times a week and you can find all the DVD’s listed above and many more, and the selection of books is amazing….can find just about anything you want there, plus new releases. We always have stacks of books, books on CD and DVD’s walking out of the library…and it’s FREE. We don’t have cable, Netflix,or any of those. Our wifi is not strong enough for streaming (on purpose). We are a homeschooling family, so this is us all year. :)

  27. sue fleming says:

    High School Musical!!!! 1 and 2!!! Your kids are soooooooo ready for it and it will change your world, like Shopkins! You’ll be rocking out the songs in no time!!!

  28. sue fleming says:

    p.s We are another Lindsay Lohan household with love for Shopkins so trust me on this one!!

  29. The ultimate family movie: The Princess Bride

  30. All the Herbie movies are great, especially for boys. Herbie Fully Loaded with Lindsay Lohan is great.

  31. Don’t forget Ghostbusters and Nim’s Island.

  32. Gidget is always fun with the surfing and good time. If not the movie than the tv show with sally field is just adorable and totally age appropriate.
    One of my favorites growing up was all the Disney movies with Kurt Russell – The computer who wore tennis shoes, etc as well as Uncle Buck and the Great Outdoors, though some of those more entertaining for slightly older kids than toddlers. So much fun on a rainy day.

  33. Jennyroo says:

    My favourites from when I was a kid? Candleshoe starring a very young Jodie Foster and the original Parent Trap (starring Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills). Classics!

  34. One of my childhood favs is Bugsy Malone. (Jodie Foster is in it as a teenager!) Think of it as a gangster movie/musical starting kids with adult dubbed singing voices. It has great songs, tommy guns that shoot whipped cream, funny lines, and dancing.

  35. Northeastern District – Barbershop Harmony Society

  36. A few of my grandkids favorites:
    A Little Princess
    Fly Away Home
    Anne of Green Gables
    The Princess Bride
    The Secret Garden
    The Neverending Story
    Milo & Otis

  37. Catherine says:

    So many great movies but so many I don’t have. Where is the best place to find them now that rental places are few and far between? Sadly Red Box did not survive where I live. :(

  38. Great Suggestions! A few more I thought of. :)
    Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
    The Never-ending Story (when they are a bit older)
    All the Buddy Movies (Treasure Buddies, Snow Buddies, etc.)

  39. Some of my kids favorites:
    The Princess Bride
    The Neverending Story
    Fly Away Home
    A Little Princess
    Milo & Otis
    Nanny McFee
    And Anne of Green Gables could

  40. My family’s summer must-have list…
    The Goonies!!
    The Sandlot!
    The Princess Bride
    Honey I Shrunk the Kids
    Ramona and Beezus
    Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer
    Back to the Future

  41. Willy Wonka
    Charlotte’s Webb
    Princess Bride
    All the Shreks
    Shark Tale
    A dolphin tale
    Mrs Doubtfire
    Toy Story (all of them! :) )

  42. What about a fall list????

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