Coast Through San Diego’s “Top Gun” Filming Locations

On May 16, 1986, the movie “Top Gun” was released in theaters across America. Starring Tom Cruise as Maverick, the film captured the dangers and thrills of being a U.S. Naval Aviator in the “Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor” program.

On May 27, 2022, the sequel “Top Gun: Maverick” was released bringing back the favored character as an instructor at “Top Gun.” After their releases, both movies skyrocketed in sales becoming well known and enjoyed by the public. According to The Numbers, “Top Gun” was able to make $8,193,052 just on opening weekend and its sequel made $126,707,459 on opening weekend.

One sweet perk of Point Loma is its connection with the movie. Being based and filmed in San Diego, “Top Gun” features many locations just outside of campus that you do not want to miss out on. From well-known places like Miramar to the good old Point Loma Coast Guard Lighthouse, “Top Gun” has left its mark all over San Diego. For all you “Top Gun” fanatics out there, these places make for the perfect weekend adventure. 

Kansas City BBQ

One of the most memorable scenes of the movie takes place at Kansas City Barbeque off West Harbor Drive. This location is home to the famous “Great Balls of Fire” scene in the first “Top Gun.” In this scene, Goose plays the iconic song while his son and others sing along. According to Trip Savvy, the diner was chosen when the location director came in for a beer and decided they liked the setting he was in. He pitched the idea of filming there to the director. They then asked if they could use the restaurant for filming. The famous spot now serves as a popular tourist attraction in San Diego still holding the fan-favored piano along with some other information about the movie itself. 

Viper’s House

“Now what I’m about to tell you is classified” – Viper, “Top Gun.”

The Old Point Loma Coast Guard Lighthouse is home to another filming location for the movie. In the movie, the location serves as Viper’s house. In this scene, Maverick and Viper talk about how he flew with his old man. The chat helps encourage Maverick to continue his training and graduate from Top Gun. Built in 1855, the lighthouse is no longer in operation and is open as a public museum. The lighthouse watched over the entrance to the San Diego Bay for 36 years. With it being 422 feet above sea level, fog and clouds would often block the light. The Lighthouse closed in 1819 and a new one was built at the end of the point.

Miramar Air Station

The next stop on our adventure is Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Most of the filming for “Top Gun” took place at Miramar just about 25 minutes north of campus. Now in use by the United States Marine Corps, Miramar once was the home of “Top Gun.” After the Navy faced heavy losses from the failures of air-to-air missiles used in combat over North Vietnam, it was recommended that the Navy train its pilots in a more elite graduate school. In 1969, the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School was established at Naval Air Station Miramar. The results from the school were in favor of the Navy. According to the Air and Space Museum, the Navy kill-to-loss ratio was transformed from 3.7-1 to 13-1 against the North Vietnamese Air Force.

In 1996, “Top Gun” moved from Miramar to Naval Air Station Fallon. The Air Station now belongs to the United States Marine Corps and is not a place you can necessarily have easy access to. The Air Station often hosts events for the public to get involved and have access to the base. Every fall, Miramar hosts the Miramar Air Show; where civilians can get an up-close look at different jets, meet the crew, and watch the best of the best fly above base. Miramar hosts other events such as its Wings Over Miramar 5k where civilians are invited to run a 5k on its runway while having aircraft on display.  

Charlie’s House

Don’t lose that lovin’ feelin’

The last stop is Charlie’s house. Up north in Downtown Oceanside, you will find the Hie-Pie pie shop. This was the filming location for the scenes shot at Charlie’s House, only it has been transformed into a quaint pie shop facing the coast in Oceanside. The owners have kept its blue color and vintage features.

This location is the perfect spot to sit down, enjoy the energy, and eat some delicious pie. The house is decorated with photos of the loved movie couple, vintage art, and antiques. The shop serves a variety of hand pies stuffed with ice cream for your delight along with kombucha, cherry soda, and gluten-free options. “Top Gun” has left its mark all around San Diego, along with capturing its beauty and history.