Me playing piano from Top Gun in San Diego

Visiting Top Gun Movie Sites in San Diego

Top Gun movie sites in San Diego are easy to find and tour around. It’s a fun way to spend a day and reminisce this great movie!

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On our recent road trip we stayed in San Diego for a couple days. We have been in San Diego multiple times and each time we find something new to see or do. And the weather has always been amazing!

Among other things, we decided to check out a few film locations I had heard about regarding Top Gun. Since the new Top Gun movie came out some spots have been renovated and don’t look as they did in the movie anymore. But they are still pretty fun to visit.

The movie was mostly filmed at Miramar Naval Air Station but there are a few treats for the fans in San Diego. In this post I will take you on a tour of Top Gun film locations anyone can visit while in Southern California.

Top Gun was first released in May 1986 and it quickly became a worldwide sensation. It was the highest-grossing film of the year even though the critics gave it mixed reviews.

It also made Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis and Val Kilmer famous. Who wouldn’t remember Iceman or Maverick, right?! Top Gun tells about the Naval Fighter Weapons School where the best army pilots go to refresh their skills.

This is a movie that was such a big part of my youth, but my kids will likely never really even know about it. Even though they went on this tour with me, one was four years old and other was still in my belly.

After 36 years the Top Gun fans finally got a sequel; Top Gun: Maverick. It was released in 2022 and it received six nominations at the Academy Awards winning and Oscar in Best Sound. Multiple original actors returned to the movies such as Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer and Ed Harris.

VISIT THESE TOP GUN MOVIE SITES WHILE IN SAN DIEGO

Viper’s House

By visiting Viper’s House you will get to see two sights at once. It is actually located right by the Cabrillo National Monument. And the views there are just amazing! You can see all the way to the city of San Diego, the naval base, the beautiful ocean and even all the way down to Mexico if the weather is clear.

There are two lighthouses by the monument. The older one you can go into for a visit, but the other one is a little harder to find. The New Point Loma Lighthouse is down by the tide pools and it replaced the old light station in 1891 which was having trouble operating in heavy fog.

Right next to the New Point Loma Lighthouse are some houses now used by the coast guard. One of those houses was featured as Viper’s house (Tom Skerritt) in Top Gun. In the movie there is a scene where Maverick (Tom Cruise) visits Viper at his house.

Unfortunately you can’t visit the New Point Loma Lighthouse or the houses down by the coast line, but you can at least see them from the monument.

Cabrillo National Monument with some houses and the New Point Loma Lighthouse in San Diego.

Address: 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr, San Diego, CA 92106.

Mission Beach Plunge

The Plunge (formerly known as Mission City Plunge) is one of those places that was closed while we were in San Diego, but basically it used to be a fitness club with a huge pool.

You might remember a locker room scene in Top Gun where Iceman reprimands Maverick. This scene was filmed at The Plunge. The pool was closed for years due to a law suit and renovation, but is now back up and running. Today it’s managed by Belmont Park, so it’s open to the public.

Address: 3115 Ocean Front Walk, San Diego, CA 92109

Liberty Station

The houses in this area are seen in several scenes of Top Gun. During the filming Liberty Station was still a Naval Training Center. Now, most of the historical buildings are shops, art galleries, restaurants and such.

For example, buildings similar to the ones at Historic Decatur Road are seen in Top Gun.

Address: 2640 Historic Decatur Road, San Diego, CA 92106

Kansas City Barbeque

Another place to visit is Kansas City Barbeque in the Harbor District of San Diego. It’s a fun little place to stop by and maybe even have lunch or dinner while visiting.

It was first opened in 1983 by Kansas City native Martin Blair. Getting into the movie was pure luck to them as one day a director from Paramount Studios stopped there for a beer. He later came back bringing the Top Gun director Tony Scott with him.

They both really liked the restaurant and thought it would be a perfect fit for their movie. The restaurant closed for one day for filming and little did they know at that point, but the movie would become such a success. The story of the filming used to be on the restaurant’s webpage, but it has since been removed.

A couple different scenes from the movie were filmed here. In one of them Maverick and Goose (Anthony Edwards) meet in the bar with Charlie (Kelly McGillis) and Goose’s wife Carole (Meg Ryan). They sing “Great Balls of Fire” and Goose is playing piano; the same piano that you can see in the restaurant today.

Also one of the closing scenes was filmed here.

After the movie was filmed, the owners of Kansas City Barbeque saved all the original artifacts from filming and started collecting Top Gun mementos.

Unfortunately, most of them were destroyed by a fire in 2008. The whole building was burned, most of the artifacts were gone and the piano was badly damaged.

Kansas City Barbeque was re-built to look the same as it was when they filmed Top Gun. The walls are now covered with autographed photographs and other Top Gun related gear. It is definitely easy to get a Top Gun vibe here.

Kansas City Barbeque has a Top Gun neon light on their window.
The old piano from Top Gun is still in Kansas City Barbeque.
An old picture at Kansas City Barbeque of Tom Cruise sitting at the bar.
A food portion at Kansas City Barbeque in San Diego.

Address: 600 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101

Top Gun House

A building widely known as the “Top Gun House” has since been removed from its original location before we visited San Diego. Multiple sources claimed that it had been torn down permanently, but there was also information of it just being relocated.

This Victorian-style house was seen in the movie when Maverick arrived with his motorcycle to meet Charlie at her house. Charlie was cooking and they sat in the backyard patio of the house.

The Top Gun House used to be in the city of Oceanside, about half an hour drive from downtown San Diego. For a long time the house was just sitting there empty and was boarded up. Many fans still came over to see it and take photos of it.

Well, I’m happy to tell you that it was not torn down, just moved away due to a construction project. And after couple of failed resort projects in its original location the house was relocated and completely renovated.

The Top Gun House was reopened on 2022, as a High-Pie Shop, and anyone can now visit it. They have some memorabilia from the movie and they do sell some pies in different flavors.

Original address: 102 South Pacific Street, Oceancide, CA, 92054.
New address: 250 N Pacific St, Oceanside, CA 92054

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I hope this helps you to find some Top Gun film locations while you are visiting San Diego! Also, if you know a place that should be on this list, please leave me a comment!

We love visiting different filming locations on our trips. We have also toured around Breaking Bad locations in New Mexico and the Paramount Ranch in Santa Monica Mountains. Filoli Gardens, which was seen in Dynasty and The Wedding Planner, is close to our home in San Francisco Bay Area, so we have been there multiple times.

Among the Top Gun filming sites, San Diego has so much to see. While there, you should not miss the Old Town or Mission San Diego de Alcalá. And with kids you will need one whole day to spend in Legoland! If you are traveling during the spring time The Flower Fields in Carlsbad are amazing!

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12 Comments

  1. A timeless classic like Top Gun is well worth the visit. It is pretty hard to believe that you can stand where actors stood and act out the exact scenes they portrayed. I wonder where the volleyball scene is? I hope they don’t turn the old house into a souvenir shop.

  2. Looks like a cool roadtrip! America is so vast and a road trip across cities would be such an awesome thing to do!
    Its such a special feeling when you get to really see the places where your favourite TV shows or movies were shot!

    1. I love road trips! They give you certain freedom to decide your own schedule and do what ever you want to. 🙂

  3. This a really cool thing to visit movie sites. I recently saw someone take photos of GOT locations. You can build a photo series with this topic.

    1. Thanks Gokul! Yes, sometimes it’s fun to do something totally different besides sightseeing.

  4. What a fun trip. I would love to visit all of these places from the movie. We went to Iceland last year and we were there when fast and furious was filming so every time someone mentioned the movie, we always said "we were there!" . Thanks for sharing.

  5. I love visiting movie locations, even though they are never how you’ve expected them to be 🙂 Love the movie Top Gun as well. Love that you included the clips

    1. Thank you Chiara! Me too. Although, quite often it doesn’t occur to me to check if there is some close by.

  6. What a fun trip!!! Viper’s house clearly has an amazing view and the food looked really tasty. I LOVE Top Gun!

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