Drew and I both grew up going to airshows as kids. Drew has always been into aviation, his major was originally aerospace engineering. He flew RC planes, took flight simulator classes, and even flew in a glider once. I grew up next to Edwards Air Force Base and we constantly got previews of the latest and greatest secret projects from the military. For years we’ve talked about going to an airshow together but we just haven’t been able to make it to one.
Finally, a free weekend allowed us to finally check out the Great Pacific Airshow in Huntington Beach. Drew was so excited to take Evelyn to her first show and let her experience one of his favorite things. It was pretty special. Evelyn had the best time enjoying the beach while catching an airshow. Unlike seeing an airshow at a military base, where there may have not been a ton of things to keep her busy and occupied, the beach is her all time favorite place. She was definitely interested in the planes, the bigger ones specifically. However, I think her favorite thing was just sharing some time with her Daddy.
1. Go on a Friday! Friday is technically a rehearsal for the Saturday and Sunday performances however the crowds are significantly smaller. Parking was an absolute breeze and NOT inflated for the event, we parked directly across the street in a parking structure. The beach was busy, but we still had about 100 feet around us from the next set of people making it perfect for our toddler to have the room to run and play where she wanted. Our favorite burger place in the area (TK Burger) wasn’t inundated with crowds at lunch time, this kid loves “burger-fries”. I think going on a Friday significantly improved our time at the show.
2. Find a good spot! We had a great spot for the show. They have tickets for sale in the grand stands that range from basic general admission to VIP private booth status but watching it from the beach is free! We wanted to be somewhat close to the bathrooms for Evelyn so we found a spot about half way between the pier and the hotels. It was a perfect spot. All of the tricks seemed to be right in front of us. We couldn’t imagine paying for better seats. Depending on your situation, you can get as close to the water as you want. We stayed farther back so that we wouldn’t be chasing Evelyn in the waves constantly while we tried to watch the show and to get a little more room between us and the pretty loud jets.
3. Bring ear protection for everyone. The first part of the show are biplanes, refueling demos, and quieter planes but by the end of the show it can get fairly loud. The jets are the main attraction basically so they usually come at the end of the show and Drew was taking a cute picture of Evelyn holding onto her shovel when the jets happened to show up. I felt so bad for not catching it before it scared her, but these fighter jets are known for sneaking up on you. That’s their whole purpose! However, as soon as we put those headphones on her, she was fine! I was so proud of her! We also brought ear plugs for Drew and I just in case. We didn’t need them, however I’m glad I had them in case it got too loud for us. Besides the loud noises, the jets were definitely the favorite of ours.
4. Be flexible. Evelyn did great with the loud jets once she had her headphones. I even figured maybe she’d sit on my lap during that part of the show however she was content to dig her sand castles and watch the show on her own. Occasionally running back to me . However, we saw many kids about Evelyn’s age freaking out and having to leave. Some even had the headphones on. These jets are intense and they are incredibly close to you. These fighter pilots are the best of the best and I was never worried about safety but to a toddler, it might be too intense and too difficult to understand. So be prepared to have to leave if your toddler isn’t feeling it.
5. Bring shade. This is one thing I wish we had done better. Thank goodness we had the Keenz with us, which by the way, it is the absolute best stroller wagon ever! It didn’t hit us that we would be sitting on a beach from 11-4:30 PM in the sun. Being in the direct sun during those hours for that long, we really could’ve used an EZ-UP or umbrellas. I was really good on the sunscreen for Evelyn (not for myself though, ouch!) and she had a blast sitting and playing inside of her Keenz when she didn’t feel like being in the sun luckily. Lesson learned though, bring shade or shelter next time. If it was cloudy and rainy, you’ll want the protection and if it’s hot and sunny, you’ll want the shade.
6. That being said, pack for the beach too! Bring the sunscreen, the sand toys, the beach chairs, snacks, water, wet wipes, swim suits, etc. There is a break between performances and that was the best time to play in the water or help build a sand castle.
7. Lastly, bring the camera! Much like anything new with toddler, I didn’t know how Evelyn was going to do with an airshow. The loud planes during the middle of her nap time could’ve easily backfired but we ended up having an amazing time together on the beach doing something special with her Daddy. Drew was in heaven capturing the moments of introducing his daughter to one of his most favorite things, he had a big goofy grin on his face most of the day.
I know this will not be the last time we do this as a family together, it was so special for Drew and I know he secretly hopes it will always be special to Evelyn. Besides lunch, all we had to pay for was parking so there really isn’t an excuse not to do our best to make this a tradition.
Location: The Great Pacific Airshow
Evelyn’s Swimsuit: Minnow Swim
Evelyn’s Headphones: Baby Banz
Stroller Wagon: Keenz Stroller Wagon
Because Oceans Tote: Unblushing Co.