Free Movie Nights at Whole Foods & Around Town

Films at Whole Foods, Arbor Trails
A small, manageable crowd

Free movie nights — one of the best ways to enjoy our pretty town in the summertime — are here again! Whole Foods at Arbor Trails is showing family-friendly films for the next few weeks, along with plenty of other (non-Whole Foods) venues — more on those in a bit.

Last Friday, my husband and I took the kids to see Honey, I Shrunk the Kids at the Whole Foods at Arbor Trails (the shopping center located on the southbound side of Mopac at William Cannon). I was super excited for our outing, so the off-and-on rain that day made me worry our plans would get canceled. Fortunately, the show must go on, as they say; I called Whole Foods (512-358-2460 for the Arbor Trails location) that evening to make sure the film was still happening, and the man I spoke to said everything was still a go. So we packed up the kids along with our blanket, chairs-in-a-bag, snacks and water bottles, and hit the road!

Setting up with Mopac at his back

The Whole Foods at Arbor Trails is a surprisingly pretty spot for enjoying an outdoor movie. The screen is set up on the little park area that’s sandwiched between Mopac and the Whole Foods parking lot, so you can hear the hum of the highway and see a ribbon of road through the trees — but these don’t detract from the prettiness of the setting or disturb the movie experience.

Pretty trails to explore
right next to the film site

There are also some lovely trails to walk while you’re waiting for the film to start, after you’ve set up your blanket and chairs. We got there pretty early, and soon the kids were getting restless, so Pearl and I took off down this pretty path and ended up exploring the nearby drainage culvert. We climbed down over rocks to the tunnels below and tried yelling into them. Our voices didn’t really echo much, but it was still fun.

By the time we walked back up to where my husband and Zeph were waiting, things were about to get going. There were plenty of other people there, but not too many; it never felt crowded. I liked that there was a wide variety of folks there to enjoy the film — families of all kinds and sizes; couples cuddling on blankets; people all by themselves, stretching out and snacking on dinner; one woman even brought her cute dog, who dined on zucchini and chicken with her along with his own kibble!

You can even bring your
well-behaved dog!

The film schedule posted at the entrance to the Whole Foods said the films begin at sunset. My literal brain immediately thought, “Sunset? But that time changes every day…” So I’d called ahead to ask what the actual start time was. The man I spoke to said the films generally get going right around 8 PM, so we got there at 7:45, thinking we’d need to be early to get a good spot. The film didn’t actually start until dusk, however — closer to 8:30.

There were only a couple of other people there when we arrived, so we got to choose right where we wanted to lay out our blanket and set up our chairs. There was ample parking right next to the movie spot, too, and this was true well into the movie; this was nice, since it’s always good to have only a short walk back to the car in the dark while carrying tired kids, chairs, blankets and other gear.

Pearl enjoying her water while
waiting for the film to begin

A couple other bonuses to this particular film spot: There was a nice little picnic table right across from the spot where they erected the film screen that would be a perfect dinner spot if you wanted to eat at an actual table before settling in for the film. Also, Whole Foods has a grill set up outside the store where they make burgers and other foods you can purchase. You can head inside, of course, for a choice of all kinds of good eats and other treats to bring with you to the film site, or just bring your own from home.

Ample parking

I’m not sure how films at other Whole Foods locations might compare — if they’re more popular than the one at Arbor Walk, for example, it might be smart to get a prime spot even earlier than we did. But regardless, a few basic tips apply whether you’re going to a free film hosted by Whole Foods or any other entity:

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids!
  • If the weather is iffy, call ahead to make sure it’s definitely happening.
  • Bring a blanket for the ground, or better yet, bring portable chairs and a blanket.
  • Bring bug spray — the mosquitoes are out in full effect these days.
  • Wear closed-toed shoes to protect against rocks, dirt and other rubble as you’re walking in the dark.
  • Bring your favorite snacks in air-tight containers so you won’t attract ants.
  • Bring wipes for faces and hands! (Zeph kept crawling to the edge of the blanket and eating dirt…)

2014 Film schedule for Whole Foods at Arbor Trails:

Phone: 512-358-2460

Time: Sunset 

It’s fun to watch the blow-up screen spring to full size
Pearl waiting for the movie to start
Zeph liked eating dirt


Catherine A. Morris is a writer as well as a once-and-future teacher, musician, jogger and triathlete living in southwest Austin, Texas. Yes, most of her former passions and pastimes have given way, at least for now, to her current, main passion and pastime: caring for her two kids, toddler Pearl and baby Zephyr. Pearl and Zeph make Catherine and her husband laugh (and cry) on a daily basis, and give Catherine plenty of good reasons to seek out free, fun activities to keep everyone alive, engaged and happy from one moment to the next.

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