Drive-in theater lot full of cars

The big picture: 8 of Phoenix’s coolest movie theaters

From state-of-the-art offerings to classic drive-ins, Phoenix offers plenty of ways to take in a show.

Going to the movies is fun again! While the last three years put a damper on the big screen, the last half of 2023 saw Hollywood roar back with a vengeance, thanks to culture-defining events like “Barbenheimer.” Throughout 2024, a slew of action-packed flicks and big-name projects are scheduled to keep moviegoers hooked.  

Of course, a great film deserves a great theatrical experience. The Phoenix area is home to more than three dozen theaters, ranging from large chain multiplexes to independent cinemas — there’s even a drive-in for a fun retro night out under the stars. 

Whether you’re into the latest Hollywood megahit, arthouse foreign films, or midnight B-movie horror bonanzas, this city has it all. Here are eight of the best places in the Valley to get your film fix.

Get the best of Localite right to your inbox.
Kid cheering at a bowling alley.

Fat Cats Mesa

5846 E. Longbow Parkway, Mesa, AZ 85215

More than just a movie theater, Fat Cats is a one-stop playground for family entertainment. Just like other theaters, the eight state-of-the-art auditoriums show first-run films, from G-rated kids’ flicks to R-rated thrillers. But that’s where the similarities stop. Fat Cats also offers an indoor arcade with two-player and virtual reality games, a bowling alley with 20 lanes, and glow-in-the-dark mini golf. Spend an afternoon partaking in some friendly competition, then order dinner at the concession stand — the menu includes kid favorites such as pizza, burgers, and chicken tenders, along with adult-worthy salads, sandwiches, and cauliflower-crust pizzas. Also, Fat Cats Mesa is a Certified Autism Center that fosters an inclusive environment.

Harkins Arizona Mills 18 w/ IMAX 

5000 S. Arizona Mills Circle, Tempe, AZ 85282

This massive theater complex houses 18 auditoriums, all with stadium-style seating and plush electronic reclining lounge chairs. But the biggest attraction here is the six-story-tall IMAX screen — the only 70mm IMAX in Arizona. The giant screen’s advanced digital projection delivers lifelike, crystal-clear 2D and 3D images. 

Harkins Moonlight Cinema

7014 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Arizonans love winter’s cooler weather. And the Harkins Theatres’ Moonlight Cinema series offers a one-of-a-kind movie experience under the stars. The theater hosts an open-air cinema concept on its rooftop every Friday and Saturday during the fall and winter months. Award-winning movies from recent years are projected onto a huge screen while guests recline in beach chairs and listen through high-fidelity stereo headphones. All of the theater’s concessions, including its signature Big Screen Burger, flatbreads, fresh-baked cookies, popcorn, and beverages, are available for purchase. 

Landmark Scottsdale Quarter Theatre

15257 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 230, Scottsdale, AZ 85254

Celebrating 50 years in 2024, this eight-screen theater showcases Hollywood’s hottest hits, but it is best known for its film series and special screenings of indie and foreign films. Movie buffs can rejoice in seeing epic movies, such as “The Godfather,” “Jaws,” “Serpico,” and “Easy Rider,” on the big screen. Also, there are regular midnight showings of camp classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” complete with a live shadow cast.

Majestic Tempe 9

1140 E. Baseline Road, Tempe, AZ 85283

This multiplex, with additional locations in Chandler and Gilbert, regularly showcases repertory films alongside new releases. In addition to cult favorites, anime, and black-and-white film canon staples, the theater chain also screens horror classics as part of its weekly Cinematery series. The food and drink menu offers traditional items, including pizzas, burgers, quesadillas, and nachos. Popcorn flavors range from truffle parmesan and spicy cheddar to churro, while larger dishes include meatballs and goat cheese, Hatch green chile pork stew, and all-day brunch.

Pollack Tempe Cinemas

1825 E. Elliot Road, Tempe, AZ 85284

At Pollack Tempe Cinemas, you can see various films, from recent blockbusters to second-run dramas and family-friendly classics — all for $3.50 per ticket! And Discount Thursdays are only $2.95. The theater recently underwent a $1 million renovation, with upgrades including a remodeled snack bar, games in the lobby, life-size holograms of celebrities, and an extensive collection of movie memorabilia on display. It’s no wonder this theater has been named one of the “Coolest Movie Theaters Across America.”

People enjoying a movie the the theater.

Roadhouse Cinemas

9090 E. Talking Stick Way, Scottsdale, AZ 85250

The Scottsdale location of this Arizona-owned and -operated modern multiplex offers in-seat dining but also has a full-service restaurant and bar, where guests can dine before or after a movie. The eight intimate auditoriums plus three tiny screening rooms feature comfortable leather recliners, and food and drinks are brought to your seat with the push of a button. The menu includes a range of comfort dishes, including appetizers, sandwiches, pizza, and desserts. During the cooler fall and winter months, Roadhouse’s outdoor patio transforms into an open-air cinema, with free showings of classic movies every Saturday night.

West Wind Glendale 9 Drive-In

5650 N. 55th Ave., Glendale, AZ 85301

In the mid-20th century, Greater Phoenix was home to more than 20 drive-in theaters, thanks to an abundance of open land and year-round mild temps. Today, only one remains, the West Wind Glendale 9. Part of a family-owned and -operated chain with additional theaters in California and Nevada, it opened in 1979 and continues to show first-run movies. Nine screens display crystal-clear digital images, and audio is beamed directly into your car stereo. Audience members can watch while in their cars or enjoy the fresh air while relaxing on folding chairs. A concession stand in the center of the property offers candy, popcorn, sodas, and light bites.

Get the best of Phoenix entertainment delivered straight to your inbox. Subscribe to the Localite newsletter.

Get the best of Localite right to your inbox.

Dog and owner sitting at an outdoor table

8 most dog-friendly patios in Phoenix

There’s no need for your four-legged BFF to stay home alone.

Phoenix is known for being a dog-friendly town — it’s normal to see pups on leashes milling around Biltmore Fashion Park, Scottsdale Quarter, Kierland Commons, and at a slew of local resorts. But there are even more places you can bring your dog besides these shopping centers, hotel properties, and various dog parks: restaurants with awesome patios.

Some of the most popular restaurants in the Valley with dog-friendly patios include:

O.H.S.O. Brewery

Spent grain from the restaurant’s craft brewing process at the Arcadia location is used to make homemade biscuits, so you and your dog can nibble on the same treat while you kick back on the perfect patio. The locations in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Paradise Valley all welcome your canines as you enjoy craft brews and great happy hour deals. 

The Sicilian Butcher

This neighborhood restaurant (with locations in Phoenix, Peoria, and Chandler) developed by celebrity chef Joey Maggiore is centered on a build-your-own meatball meal experience with hand-rolled meatballs made daily (what dog can resist?), made-from-scratch pasta, and Sicilian-style charcuterie boards. 

Get the best of Localite right to your inbox.

Birdcall

Birdcall in Phoenix has a great dog-friendly patio where you can enjoy a chicken sandwich or tenders and offers whipped cream pup cups served with a bone-shaped baked peanut butter dog treat. The spacious outdoor patio has misters to keep you cool even during the dog days of summer and a vibrant Instagram-worthy mural. 

Eat Up Drive In

Feel at home while dining at this quaint restaurant, relaxing on its shaded patio with picnic tables large enough to fit the whole family. You can indulge in prime dip sandwiches, braised BBQ short ribs, and mac and cheese; your four-legged friend will drool over their special dog menu of wood-grilled beef patties, chicken breast, steak, and Good Boi Treats from local vendors. 

FEZ

This restaurant and bar exudes contemporary, mid century-modern décor while serving American fare with Moroccan flare. It’s known for award-winning cuisine, and the strongest and biggest martinis downtown, and its location on Central is just steps from Roosevelt Row. 

Postino WineCafé 

There’s no better deal in town than Postino’s early week special: Monday or Tuesday after 8 p.m., get any house bottle of wine plus a board of bruschetta for around $20. And for your pooch, there are endless water bowl refills and plenty of affection. There are five dog-friendly locations throughout the Greater Phoenix region, all occupying trendily restored neighborhood buildings. 

Cibo Pizzeria

Want to pretend you’re in Italy for a few hours? The Neapolitan-style pizza at Cibo will definitely transport your taste buds — and the lush patio experience under the trees and globe lights will make your dog happy, too. Between the ambiance and wine options, you’ll both want to stay a while in this slice of urban respite.  

The Farm Kitchen at The Farm at South Mountain

Soak up some sunny weather on a delicious picnic you don’t have to pack yourself. The Farm Kitchen provides a fresh basket of food, picnic tables, and beautiful scenery for your pup to frolic in. Leashed dogs are welcome to sit with you in the farm’s pecan grove (save room for dessert, as the pecan pie is made from scratch). 

Sign up for the Localite newsletter and we’ll send you more great spots and hidden gems to explore in Phoenix.

Get the best of Localite right to your inbox.


Woman Strolling Through an Art Gallery

Just 7 interesting facts that show ATL has always been a cultural juggernaut

The South has always had something to say.

Atlanta was recently ranked the most creative city in the U.S., which is no surprise to those who have immersed themselves in the music festivals, art galleries, and creative spaces that dot the city. Yet for all of Atlanta’s recent recognition, there have always been creative firsts and momentous arts moments in the city, spanning decades and genres. We look at a few fun facts that reflect just a portion of the deep arts foundation that helped make Atlanta the cultural juggernaut it is today.

Atlanta had its own Woodstock moments.

On July Fourth weekend in 1969, just two months before Woodstock, the Atlanta International Pop Festival brought iconic performers like Led Zeppelin, Sweetwater, The Staple Singers, Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Booker T. and the M.G.’s, and more. Unlike the breakdowns that occurred at Woodstock, the event went off without a hitch. According to the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s headline from the event was “Music Fans Stay Orderly Despite Heat, Wine, Drugs.” The following year, the event returned, and Jimi Hendrix even played a version of his iconic “The Star-Spangled Banner” while fireworks illuminated the performance. 

Large Crowd of People Passionately Singing Along at an Outdoor Music Festival

Atlanta is more punk than you might think. 

While Atlanta is perhaps best known for southern rock and hip-hop, other genres have always percolated in the creative scene, though not always to the same fanfare. Sure, the Sex Pistols played their first U.S. show right here in Atlanta in 1978, which is a notable first but hardly the only one. Other local groups — including RuPaul’s entry into the entertainment world via an early ‘80s Atlanta-based punk band — helped shape the cultural scene. Clubs like 688 Spring Street Club ignited a love for the punk spirit, which is carried through with popular Atlanta originals like The Coathangers and The Black Lips. 

Atlanta’s worked hard to earn rap respect.

NPR recently hailed Atlanta as “the center of the rap universe,” but the city wasn’t always given due respect. After all, Andre 3000 of the homegrown duo Outkast first introduced the world to the famous words, “The South’s got something to say” at the 1995 Source Awards, in the midst of the East Coast/West Coast battles when middle America was largely ignored. According to NPR, “In retrospect, the moment is a clear turning point, for the South and for Atlanta in particular … “ 

The Atlanta visual arts scene is led by young people.

Like most big cities, Atlanta boasts a formidable slate of art museums, from clusters of up-and-coming galleries to independent artists-in-residency to long-running institutions like the High Museum of Art. What makes the city different? The High director told ArtNet that over half of the museum’s visitors are under 35, and nearly three-quarters are under 55. The younger generation is helping to reenergize and modernize visual arts experiences throughout the city.

Atlanta doesn’t just create big movies — it puts up big numbers.

Due to a wide array of production infrastructure and film-friendly tax incentives in Georgia, it’s a cost-effective city for large-scale TV and film productions, and many of the most famous, like “Stranger Things” and numerous Marvel movies, are well known to citizens. Less known is the massive scope of the industry. In fact, in 2022 alone, 412 productions were shot in Georgia, bringing approximately $4.4 billion into the region. 

Spike Lee’s start has roots in Atlanta.

Speaking of big things in the movie world, Spike Lee made his first film, “Last Hustle in Brooklyn,” while at Morehouse College, where it was screened at the Atlanta Film Festival. It won a prize of $25. The win encouraged Lee to pursue a career as a filmmaker, and he has since won an Oscar and multiple prestigious awards. How’s that for inspiration to make it big in the city of Atlanta?

One of the hippest art scenes has roots in Prohibition.

Underground Atlanta — originally used for materials storage during the Civil War, reconstruction became a series of speakeasies and juke joints during Prohibition, an entertainment district in the ’60s, a shopping mall from the ‘80s through the 2000s, and is now being reimagined as an indie arts center, showing that Atlanta will always find creative uses for all of its spaces.