Our Favorite Movie Theaters That Cater to Kids

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Sometimes we feel like having kids means resigning ourselves to a lifetime of Netflix and Redbox rentals or worse — watching the Academy Awards and having no idea about the nominated films (gasp!). We think you deserve a night out that doesn’t involve getting cozy on the couch in your pajamas as your kids wiggle around under the blankets so we’ve come up with our favorite kid-friendly movie theaters in the Bay Area. Some of the theaters cater to babies, while others are for the older set. Take a look — there’s a showing for every age and movie taste and we promise if your child has a sudden melt down (been there) you won’t be judged.

Baby Brigade at the New Parkway Theater in Oakland
Crying babies have got nothing on the New Parkway Theater, which boasts Baby Brigade evenings just for parents and their antsy kiddos. On Mondays at 4:30pm and 6:30pm, you don’t have to worry about your crying kid upsetting fellow patrons because let’s face it — they’ll likely have the same problem on their hands. While your child (hopefully) snoozes, you can enjoy a movie ($6 admission) along with popcorn, beer, wine and diner fare. Or, you can opt for family classic nights where your kids (recommended for the older set) can enjoy kid-friendly flicks and food (wine, beer, and diner fare for you). The Family Classic Nights take place Fridays at 4:00pm and Saturdays at 11:00am.

Bringing Up Baby at the Rialto Cinema in El Cerrito
Wait, a movie night that welcomes kids under the age of one?! Baby-friendly nights at the Cerrito Theater are a hometown tradition. Once known as the “Baby Brigade,” this event spans back years, offering housebound parents caring for little ones a year old and under an opportunity to watch a new release and enjoy some pizza and salad in the comfy auditorium while the baby naps (hopefully). Bringing Up Baby takes place the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 6:45pm. The next showing is of Silver Linings Playbook (Bradley Cooper anyone?) on Tuesday, February 12 at 6:45pm.

Moms and Babies Movie at the Presidio Theater in San Francisco
Not only is this event a great opportunity to meet other neighborhood parents and catch a new release – it’s also free (huzzah!). Thank local mothers and real estate professionals, Jill Russo and Lorianne Daluz, who spearheaded this monthly matinee showing in conjunction with the Presidio Theater. Moms and Babies Movie takes place the second Thursday of each month. Check the website the Tuesday prior for details.

Solano 2 Drive-In Family Fun Night in Concord
We think your kids will be totally thrilled with the idea of a drive-in movie night. Your kids in the backseat can’t crawl down the theater aisles, and their chatter won’t disturb other moviegoers. Kids under 5 are free, and those up to age 11 are just $1.00. Not bad for a new release. Family fun nights take place on Tuesdays. And if you’re based in the South Bay, there’s a sister drive-in at West Wind Capital 6 in San Jose.

Diaper Days and Date Nights at Camera Cinemas in Campbell
The Camera Cinemas offer new meaning to “diaper days,” with the latest kids’ releases at the forefront of this first and third-Wednesday event. Tickets are only $7.50 with kids 4 and under admitted free. Those who want to enjoy some nighttime fun may opt for Diaper Date Night instead, which includes a screening on the first Tuesday of every month. While strollers aren’t permitted because of space constraints in the auditorium (there’s a designated place to park your wheels in the lobby), you’re encouraged to bring Baby Bjorns, infant carriers and slings. Plus, the theatre is baby safe lighting and sound levels, as well as changing tables in both the men and women’s restrooms.

Mommy and Me Mondays at the Alameda Theater
Current movies? Check. Kid and toddler friendly seating? Check. Designated stroller parking? Check. Throw in a reduced movie volume and still visible lighting, and you’ve got a recipe for a great day at the movies between mommy and kiddo. All of their showings are on their website, and clearly designated as “Mommy and Me” on certain Mondays. While they discourage bringing little ones to anything other than G or PG rated films, most films rotate through their “Mommy and Me” discount, so be sure to check before heading to the theater.

Have you ever been so daring as to take your kids to the movie theater? Where do you like to go?

–Renee Macalino Rutledge

photo courtesy of Unrealitymag