Here’s a stunning fact: The Great Pacific Airshow is the largest airshow in United States of America. Here’s another fact: It’s happening this weekend (Oct. 19-21, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. each day) along the windblown shores of our beach. Yes, it’s traditionally known as a Huntington Beach event but the planes fly pretty far, and the airshow is a fun event, even from Newport Beach. (It’s true the small planes that tumble toward Huntington Pier might be hard to see but the jets? Those will be whizzing by all afternoon.)
Of course, if you’re more of an airshow traditionalist, opt for buying actual tickets to The Great Pacific Airshow. VIP and pier seating packages are available, along with catered Flight Line Club reserved tables. Flight Line Club tickets include beer and wine, and VIP passes afford access to a no-host beer, wine and soda bar. (Hot tip for out-of-towners: You can stream the 2018 Great Pacific Airshow here.)
But OK, you’re a go-with-the-flow airshow viewer and also don’t feel like battling PCH traffic traveling Northbound to Huntington Beach at 10 a.m. on a Saturday. Well, cool and welcome to this West Oceanfront article because Newport Beach has plenty of unobstructed spots to view the exact same show. If you’re wondering where to go for the best airshow views, here are five of our favorite places to catch all the aerial acrobatics this weekend, peppered with photos from last year’s event because even if the Blue Angels aren’t flying this year, the photos are still cool:
Newport Dog Beach
Where it is: Set your GPS to 7482 Seashore Dr., Newport Beach, CA 92663 and you’ll find it.
Why it’s awesome: This might be a kind of hidden gem among airshow-viewing locations but year after year, the Newport Dog Beach provides the best, oh-my-gosh-that-plane-just-flew-over-my-head-and-it’s-so-loud views. Watch as the jets soar toward Huntington Beach and that cute, big FedEx plane does its cute, big thing.
Where it is: 70 Newport Pier, Newport Beach, CA 92663
Why it’s awesome: A more crowded option to be sure (get to the pier around 8 a.m. for prime, lean-against-the-pier viewing) but still a worthy choice to add to this list. As expected, it’s completely free to hang at the pier and it’s also elevated from the beach, so you’ll be treated to some awesome airshow awesomeness. The planes and jets generally loop back around toward Huntington Beach in the skies above the pier, so you’ll see and the twisty, topsy-turvy action up close. Remember, the show is long and your spot can be taken if you move, so bring snacks.
The Blue Beet Rooftop
Where it is: 107 21st Pl, Newport Beach, CA 92663
Why it’s awesome: Yes, Blue Beet is an obvious go-to for airshow fun but can you really beat (or beet, hehe) sipping on a cold brew, sitting at a hightop, rooftop table and watching the planes go by? Blue Beet’s rooftop is small and seating is limited, so arrive early unless you’re cool with standing around with your head affixed toward the heavens above. Plus, there’s food. (Hot tip: Order the wings because that’s totally on brand for the day.)
Topside Bar, Lido House
Where it is: 3300 Newport Blvd, Newport Beach, CA 92663
Why it’s awesome: Again, another rooftop dining locale that will provide an elevated vantage point from which to check out the jetting jets and soaring Thunderbirds. Topside is found, most appropriately, on the top of Lido House, and is by far the chicest option on the list, and also the one with the most cocktail and food variety. (For a breakdown of what to expect at Lido House’s Topside, click here.)
A Duffy Boat
Where it is: On the water!
Why it’s awesome: Click here to check out a rundown of our favorite Duffy rental spots. Electric Boat Rentals and OC Boat Rentals both offer excellent and affordable options for renting Duffys and watching the air while sailing the ocean seas of Newport Bay. Be sure not to travel too far; the airshow loops around by Newport Pier and also reserve a Duffy ASAP. Boats are limited!
Your Porch, Your Friend’s Porch, Your Friend’s Friend’s Porch
Where it is: Literally anywhere you want it to be
Why it’s awesome: Insert “rooftop” for “porch” and this idea works just the same. The best tip we can give you about viewing the Great Pacific Airshow is that the sky is quite large, which means you can practically see the show while taking your garbage out in the back alley of your own Balboa Peninsula home. If you REALLY want an exclusive experience that includes just your best buddies and you taking in the planes together, find a friend who has the closest porch/rooftop to the beach, grab a few beers (Pavilions has quite the craft collection at the moment) and enjoy. Because while The Great Pacific Airshow will no doubt live up to the greatness in its name, the best part about it, after all, is that it’s always completely free.