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Your guide to movie theater parking

San Diego's prime cinema parking real estate

Find the parking less traveled
Find the parking less traveled

The impetus for this public service announcement began two weeks ago when I was trying to attend a 10:30 a.m. screening at Arclight La Jolla. A mall without a multiplex is as useless as a restaurant that shows movies. Until UTC decided to add a cinema to their already overbuilt shopping facility, there was no pressing need to familiarize myself with the lay of this plot of Westfield earth.

Being the only one in the county not hip to the fact that their parking lot had recently been reduced to rubble to make way for a new outdoor structure, I arrived at 10:10, thinking there’d be ample time to grab a Starbucks en route to the screening. At 10:35 — after parking close to Sears and huffing and puffing my way toward the theater — I found myself standing before a locked gate with a sign in place that read, “This Gate Must Remain Unlocked at All Times.”

Securing a spot at UTC has always been a bear, but until the time comes when the cyclone fences are down and the gravel is smoothly tarred over, when visiting Arclight it’s best that you park at AMC La Jolla and walk.

What follows is a list of prime parking real estate at the dozen cinemas that I frequent most. Know of any sneak spots at other theaters? Your cartographic comments are welcome.


Place

AMC Fashion Valley

7037 Friars Road, San Diego

AMC Fashion Valley 18

Try Parking Structure B just south of the theater. If it’s not too sunny, park on the roof. In the event of a scorcher, try one floor below and hop the stairs.

Place

AMC La Jolla

8657 Villa La Jolla Drive, San Diego

AMC La Jolla

Follow the Nobel Drive exit and take your first left (between Islands and California Pizza Kitchen) into the La Jolla Village Square. Do not waste your time looking for an outdoor space, particularly anywhere near the Ralph’s. Turn right into the underground facility and park near the Best Buy.

Sponsored
Sponsored
Place

AMC Mission Valley

1640 Camino del Rio North, San Diego

AMC Mission Valley

Enter the parking lot from Camino Del Rio North and veer to the left. If no one’s looking, ignore the sign, hang a U-turn just before entering the underground structure, and turn right. If you’re not the thrill-seeking type, enter the garage legally and turn left. All roads lead to Aisle Y. Look for the metal stairway at the end of the row and park as close to it as possible. When the movie lets out, use the exit door closest to theater 19. If everything goes as planned, your car awaits at the foot of the stairs.

Place

Angelika Film Center and Café

11620 Carmel Mountain Road, San Diego

Angelika Film Center

Take the Carmel Mountain road exit off the 15. Hang a left at the second stoplight (Rancho Carmel Drive). Proceed to the second entrance on your right. Once inside Carmel Mountain Plaza, turn left and park next to the theater. When the movie’s over, exit through the side door.

Place

Edwards Mira Mesa

10733 Westview Parkway, San Diego

Edwards Mira Mesa 18

Avoid the Mira Mesa exit off the 15 at all costs; one can finish Moby Dick in the time it takes to make a left turn into the mall. Use Carroll Canyon as a substitute. Follow it to Black Mountain Road and turn right. Proceed to Hillery Drive and turn right. You’ll pass the Home Depot and turn left onto Westview Parkway. Just past the Legacy Apartment Homes and before the Old Navy, you’ll find an entrance on your right. Follow it and park in back on the side of the theater.

Place

Landmark Hillcrest

3965 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

Landmark Hillcrest Cinemas

Enter the parking facility on the Fifth Avenue side. After the machine spits out a ticket, you’ll come to a dead end. Unlike the rest of the lost lambs, you’ll want to make a left to find parking.

Place

Landmark Ken

4061 Adams Avenue, San Diego

Landmark’s Ken Cinema

Street parking. You’re on your own.

Place

Digital Gym Cinema

1100 Market Street, Ste 326, San Diego


Media Arts Center Digital Gym

See above.

Place

Reading Cinemas Grossmont with TITAN XC

5500 Grossmont Center Drive, La Mesa

Reading Cinema Grossmont 15

You’re going to have to work a little harder to gain access to the county’s largest screens, but it’s worth it.

Grossmont Center Drive is a must to avoid. Exit the 8 at Jackson Drive and head north to Center Drive. Turn right and follow it until right before you hit Grossmont Center Drive (look for the Bank of America) and turn right into the mall. The theater is located at the opposite end of the lot.

Place

Reading Cinemas Town Square

4665 Clairemont Drive, San Diego

Reading Cinema Town Square

Take Clairemont Mesa Boulevard to Clairemont Drive and head north. Turn right on Lakehurst Avenue followed by another quick right and look for a space. The entrance to the mall is located at the south end of the lot.

Place

United Artists Horton Plaza

475 Horton Plaza, San Diego

UA Horton Plaza 8

Access the Garage of Fruits and Vegetables on the Fourth Street side and veer to the left. Follow the coiling path to Red Onion, Level 6, and pull up a stall.

Place

UltraStar Mission Valley at Hazard Center

7510 Hazard Center Drive, San Diego

UltraStar Mission Valley at Hazard Center

Take the Friar’s Road East exit off the 163 to Frazee and turn right. Turn right just past B.J.’s and park by the Starbucks. In the event of a Chargers game, stay home and watch it on the radio.

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Find the parking less traveled
Find the parking less traveled

The impetus for this public service announcement began two weeks ago when I was trying to attend a 10:30 a.m. screening at Arclight La Jolla. A mall without a multiplex is as useless as a restaurant that shows movies. Until UTC decided to add a cinema to their already overbuilt shopping facility, there was no pressing need to familiarize myself with the lay of this plot of Westfield earth.

Being the only one in the county not hip to the fact that their parking lot had recently been reduced to rubble to make way for a new outdoor structure, I arrived at 10:10, thinking there’d be ample time to grab a Starbucks en route to the screening. At 10:35 — after parking close to Sears and huffing and puffing my way toward the theater — I found myself standing before a locked gate with a sign in place that read, “This Gate Must Remain Unlocked at All Times.”

Securing a spot at UTC has always been a bear, but until the time comes when the cyclone fences are down and the gravel is smoothly tarred over, when visiting Arclight it’s best that you park at AMC La Jolla and walk.

What follows is a list of prime parking real estate at the dozen cinemas that I frequent most. Know of any sneak spots at other theaters? Your cartographic comments are welcome.


Place

AMC Fashion Valley

7037 Friars Road, San Diego

AMC Fashion Valley 18

Try Parking Structure B just south of the theater. If it’s not too sunny, park on the roof. In the event of a scorcher, try one floor below and hop the stairs.

Place

AMC La Jolla

8657 Villa La Jolla Drive, San Diego

AMC La Jolla

Follow the Nobel Drive exit and take your first left (between Islands and California Pizza Kitchen) into the La Jolla Village Square. Do not waste your time looking for an outdoor space, particularly anywhere near the Ralph’s. Turn right into the underground facility and park near the Best Buy.

Sponsored
Sponsored
Place

AMC Mission Valley

1640 Camino del Rio North, San Diego

AMC Mission Valley

Enter the parking lot from Camino Del Rio North and veer to the left. If no one’s looking, ignore the sign, hang a U-turn just before entering the underground structure, and turn right. If you’re not the thrill-seeking type, enter the garage legally and turn left. All roads lead to Aisle Y. Look for the metal stairway at the end of the row and park as close to it as possible. When the movie lets out, use the exit door closest to theater 19. If everything goes as planned, your car awaits at the foot of the stairs.

Place

Angelika Film Center and Café

11620 Carmel Mountain Road, San Diego

Angelika Film Center

Take the Carmel Mountain road exit off the 15. Hang a left at the second stoplight (Rancho Carmel Drive). Proceed to the second entrance on your right. Once inside Carmel Mountain Plaza, turn left and park next to the theater. When the movie’s over, exit through the side door.

Place

Edwards Mira Mesa

10733 Westview Parkway, San Diego

Edwards Mira Mesa 18

Avoid the Mira Mesa exit off the 15 at all costs; one can finish Moby Dick in the time it takes to make a left turn into the mall. Use Carroll Canyon as a substitute. Follow it to Black Mountain Road and turn right. Proceed to Hillery Drive and turn right. You’ll pass the Home Depot and turn left onto Westview Parkway. Just past the Legacy Apartment Homes and before the Old Navy, you’ll find an entrance on your right. Follow it and park in back on the side of the theater.

Place

Landmark Hillcrest

3965 Fifth Avenue, San Diego

Landmark Hillcrest Cinemas

Enter the parking facility on the Fifth Avenue side. After the machine spits out a ticket, you’ll come to a dead end. Unlike the rest of the lost lambs, you’ll want to make a left to find parking.

Place

Landmark Ken

4061 Adams Avenue, San Diego

Landmark’s Ken Cinema

Street parking. You’re on your own.

Place

Digital Gym Cinema

1100 Market Street, Ste 326, San Diego


Media Arts Center Digital Gym

See above.

Place

Reading Cinemas Grossmont with TITAN XC

5500 Grossmont Center Drive, La Mesa

Reading Cinema Grossmont 15

You’re going to have to work a little harder to gain access to the county’s largest screens, but it’s worth it.

Grossmont Center Drive is a must to avoid. Exit the 8 at Jackson Drive and head north to Center Drive. Turn right and follow it until right before you hit Grossmont Center Drive (look for the Bank of America) and turn right into the mall. The theater is located at the opposite end of the lot.

Place

Reading Cinemas Town Square

4665 Clairemont Drive, San Diego

Reading Cinema Town Square

Take Clairemont Mesa Boulevard to Clairemont Drive and head north. Turn right on Lakehurst Avenue followed by another quick right and look for a space. The entrance to the mall is located at the south end of the lot.

Place

United Artists Horton Plaza

475 Horton Plaza, San Diego

UA Horton Plaza 8

Access the Garage of Fruits and Vegetables on the Fourth Street side and veer to the left. Follow the coiling path to Red Onion, Level 6, and pull up a stall.

Place

UltraStar Mission Valley at Hazard Center

7510 Hazard Center Drive, San Diego

UltraStar Mission Valley at Hazard Center

Take the Friar’s Road East exit off the 163 to Frazee and turn right. Turn right just past B.J.’s and park by the Starbucks. In the event of a Chargers game, stay home and watch it on the radio.

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