Best Summer Movies for Kids & Families

When you think of summer, you probably think of working outside on long, hot days, catching fireflies on warm, starlit nights, kicking up sand on the beach or splashing around in a lake.

However, not all the great things about summer happen outdoors. Summertime also lends itself nicely to some great movies, particularly coming-of-age and teen summer movies.

Over the years, there have been some really great summer movies for kids that perfectly encapsulate what it’s like to be a child or teenager, enjoying the summer at an age where it feels like you’ll live forever and that those summer days will never end.

Some of these films were huge blockbusters, while others received less critical acclaim but just as great. With this list, we’ve tried to narrow down the 25 Best Summer Movies for kids.

With few exceptions, we left out all the best summer camp movies. There are just so many of them that we felt they needed their very own list, so if you’re looking specifically for movies about summer camp, check out our “Best Summer Camp Movies” article here.

For Young Children (5-7)

Moana (2016)

Alice in Wonderland (1951)

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (2018)

Lilo & Stitch (2002)

Rio (2011)

Dolphin Tale (2011)

For Big Kids (8-9)

The Sandlot (1993)

The Jungle Book (2016)

The Baby Sitters Club (1995)

The Little Rascals (1994)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (2012)

Wonder Park (2019)

For Pre-Teens (10-12)

The Goonies (1985)

Now and Then (1995)

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)

Rated: PG | Ages: 12+ | Time: 1h 59min

At 21, I was much too old to enjoy this movie when it first came out, but that didn’t matter because I adored it anyway and still do to this day. This is a typical coming-of-age summer flick for teens, particularly teen girls, and it has it all. Four friends who’ve never spent a summer apart are about to go their separate ways for summer vacation. They go out for a girl’s shopping trip beforehand, and despite their wildly different bodies, they find a single pair of pants that somehow “magically” fits them all. They agree to buy them and share them for good luck on their summer adventures.

Each girl goes her own way – one to Greece to visit distant relatives, one to South Carolina to be a part of her dad’s wedding, one to soccer camp and one to work at a department store – and each has her own powerful, relevant experience that teaches her an important lesson about life. In one way or another, the pants help them through these experiences and give them the strength to do what they need to do while wearing them.

While it’s true that the concept is somewhat ridiculous and unbelievable, the movie explores real themes of rushed and regretted sexual encounters, loneliness while surrounded by new “family,” budding love that’s nevertheless real and even death. It’s an absolutely beautiful movie, and I highly recommend you watch it with your older kids this summer. (Plus, the summer scenes in Greece are gorgeous!)

My Girl (1991)

The Karate Kid (1984)

Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Gidget (1959)

For Teens (13+)

Stand By Me (1986)

Jaws (1975)

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Grease (1978)

(500) Days of Summer (2009)

Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead (1991)

Blue Crush (2002)

The Bad News Bears (2005)

Clueless (1995)

Dirty Dancing (1987)

The Way Way Back (2013)

Summer Blockbuster Actions Movies For Kids

Some summer movies aren’t “summer movies” because they’re set in the summer, take place on a beach or feature a lot of typical summer sun, fun and adventure. Instead, some summer movies are considered summer movies because they’re huge blockbuster movies that originally premiered in the summertime, which is, of course, the best time to release a new movie that you want to do well.

These movies may not strictly stick to summer themes and settings, but they’re great films nonetheless. They’re full of fun, adventure and excitement, just like anyone’s summer should be, and they always end with a promise of hope for the future. You won’t find any sad-sack endings in a true summer blockbuster. These are the kinds of movies you can watch over and over again, but they’re best watched outside on a warm summer evening under the stars, staring up at a huge projector screen.

So if you have a projector, call the neighbors, grab some blankets to lie on, and throw a summer blockbuster block party for the whole street right in your backyard. We’ve even provided you with a list of some of the very best summer blockbusters to show.

Independence Day (1996)

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Superman: The Movie (1978)

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Jurassic Park (1993)

Wonder Woman (2017)

The Princess Bride (1987)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)

Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019)

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) & Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)

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