“I feel the need … the need for speed!” Yeah, we know it’s actually a famous line from the first film, but whenever one discusses “Top Gun” in all of its glory, that line and visions of volleyball ought to be part of the discussion. Tom Cruise’s “Top Gun: Maverick” is credited with saving the movie industry during the height of Covid. It brought people back to movie theater seats and is, in so many different ways, a superior film to the first. That, in and of itself, is a rare feat for any movie. So, where was “Top Gun: Maverick” filmed?

Exploring the Stunning Locations Where ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Filmed

Fans of the original 1986 film were eager to experience the high-octane thrill of high-flying action and adrenaline-fueled drama that is the “Top Gun” franchise. One aspect that added to the excitement is the film’s visually striking locations, which serve as the backdrop for the intense aerial maneuvers and emotional moments.

The film’s production team embarked on a global journey to find the perfect locales that would capture the essence of the story while providing breathtaking visuals. A mix of practical filming and clever use of CGI brought these locations to life, creating a sense of realism that immersed the audience in the high-stakes world of naval aviation and top-performing aerial combat pilots.

Naval Air Station North Island, Coronado, California

NAS North Island in San Diego is a beautiful film location from the film Top Gun. 
pictured: The sandy coast of NAS North Island with visitors enjoying the California sun off in the distance

Fast Facts:

  • Key Scenes: Flight training, briefing rooms, hangars, runways
  • Best Times to Visit: Year-round, avoid air shows for less crowds
  • Transportation: Use the Coronado Ferry or San Diego Trolley

A significant portion of “Top Gun: Maverick” was filmed at the Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island in San Diego, California. Affectionately known as “Fightertown USA,” this base, located on the picturesque Coronado peninsula, served as the primary filming location for the training sequences and base scenes. It also served as the location of filming for the first film and, in real life, housed the “Top Gun” program both films are named after. The program has since been shut down after the release of the first movie, but aerial combat training continues to be taught there to this day. The use of the real-life naval base provided an authentic atmosphere, allowing the actors to immerse themselves in their roles as pilots and personnel.

Things to Do: The USS Midway Museum, San Diego Zoo, and NAS North Island Visitors Center all offer fun interactive activities in San Diego. 

Where to Eat: Jeune et Jolie is a popular San Diego restaurant that mixes French-inspired cuisine with a SoCal twist. 

Where to Stay: The Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel is highly rated and is centrally located. 

Lake Tahoe, California

Lake Tahoe is a popular destination and filming location of the newest Top Gun film.
pictured: The turquoise waters of Lake Tahoe with snowy mountains in the distance

Fast Facts:

  • Key Scenes: Aerial dogfight sequences
  • Best Times to Visit: Summer for weather and activities, Fall for foliage
  • Transportation: Rental car or shuttle bus

The film’s production team didn’t limit themselves to traditional military locations. Lake Tahoe, with its stunning blue waters and surrounding mountains, provided a unique backdrop for several scenes. While not a typical setting for naval aviation, the juxtaposition of the pristine lake against the high-powered aircraft added a layer of visual interest to the film.

Things to Do: During ski season, generally from November through April, travelers enjoy the snow-covered mountains of Lake Tahoe. During warmer months visitors can visit the beach, jet ski, fish, or even paddle board on the lake. 

Where to Eat: The Divided Sky is a local favorite bar that provides live music and tasty bites in southern Lake Tahoe. 

Where to Stay: The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa, and Casino is four-star accommodation with a private beach and shuttle bus. 

Point Mugu, Oxnard, California

California's Point Mugu was an important filming location for the second Top Gun film.
pictured: The edge of a mountain in Point Mugu State Park and the tranquil coastal waters of the beach

Fast Facts:

  • Key Scenes: Aircraft carrier maneuvers
  • Best Times to Visit: Weekdays, avoid large-scale military training operations and drills
  • Transportation: Amtrak Pacific Surfliner or rental car

The rugged coastline of Point Mugu, California, was another essential filming location for “Top Gun: Maverick.” This location was used to capture some of the intense flying sequences over the ocean. The natural beauty of the area, with its towering cliffs and crashing waves, created a dramatic contrast to the sleek fighter jets slicing through the sky.

Things to Do: The Point Mugu State Park and Beach are the most popular attractions in the area. Travelers should be sure not to miss the stunning views of the rocky coast and mountainous park. 

Where to Eat: Local restaurants like Twenty88 Bistro serve fresh and locally sourced seafood. Twenty88 Bistro is located around eight miles from Point Mugu State Park

Where to Stay: There are plenty of accommodations near the Point Mugu State Park, which will make commuting to the beach much easier. Point Mugu Lodging and Del Playa Inn are nearby accommodations that are affordable and quaint. 

Naval Support Activity (NSA) Mid-South, Tennessee

NSA Mid-South in Tennessee is a great destination that was used as a a filming location for the new Top Gun movie. 
pictured: The Tennessee mountains during fall on a cloudy day

Fast Facts:

  • Key Scenes: Flight training and aerial stunts
  • Best Times to Visit: Year-round 
  • Transportation Options: NSA Mid-South is located 10 miles north of Memphis, yet it is three hours away (by car) from Tennessee’s capital city, Nashville. The Memphis Airport is the closest and travelers can take the airport shuttle directly to the Navy base. 

In addition to California, the filmmakers turned to the NSA Mid-South in Millington, Tennessee, for some of the training and flight sequences. This diverse range of locations showcases the versatility of the film’s production team and their ability to create a seamless narrative despite the varied settings.

Things to Do: There are many recreational activities happening around the NSA Mid-South (both on and off base) like canoeing, paintballing and putting at the Stonebridge Golf Course.

Where to Eat: Local base restaurants like the Eagles Peak Grill and Bar offer casual dining options. 

Where to Stay: The Hampton Inn and Suites Millington offers visitors an affordable and modern stay and a short drive to the Navy base.  

NAS Whidbey Island, Washington

NAS Whidbey Island in Washington is a location that helped bring the film "Top Gun: Maverick" onto the big screen.
pictured: Whidbey Island Beach with secluded shores and clear skies

Fast Facts:

  • Key Scenes: Outdoor shots of nature for background
  • Best Times to Visit: Springtime, to avoid the long winters
  • Transportation Options: It takes two hours to get to NAS Whidbey Island from the local airport via a rental vehicle or shuttle

Washington state’s NAS Whidbey Island played a vital role in the filming of “Top Gun: Maverick.” This location offered a different aesthetic, with its lush forests and rugged terrain. The use of such varied settings contributes to the film’s dynamic visual experience, keeping viewers engaged as the story unfolds.

Things to Do: All civilian visitors are required to register for a temporary visitor pass before they are allowed entry into NASWI. The Costen -Turner Recreation Area and Dugualla State Park are some of the best places to visit in the area. Hikers will enjoy the challenge of the elevated waterside path.

Where to Eat: Kegler’s Bar and Grill is one of the most popular local eateries that offers casual lunch and happy hour offerings.

Where to Stay: Whidbey Island has plenty of options to choose from, but Saratoga Inn is by far one of the best places to stay. The tranquil cabin-styled accommodation sits in a seaside village. 

Virtual Cinematography

While many of the film’s locations are tangible, it’s worth mentioning the incredible strides made in virtual cinematography. Advanced CGI technology was employed to enhance the aerial scenes, allowing for heart-pounding dogfights and stunning flyovers that would have been nearly impossible to capture practically. This marriage of real-world locations and digital innovation is a testament to the evolving landscape of filmmaking.

You Can Be My Wingman Anytime

For anyone wondering, “Where was ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ filmed?” the true answer comes down to a blend of practical cinematography and computer-generated imagery. The filming locations of “Top Gun: Maverick” span the United States, showcasing the breathtaking landscapes and versatile settings that contribute to the film’s visual appeal. From the sun-soaked runways of Naval Air Station North Island to the rugged cliffs of Point Mugu, each location adds depth and authenticity to the narrative. The filmmakers’ dedication to finding the perfect settings, combined with the seamless integration of CGI, delivered a cinematic experience paying homage to the original while pushing the boundaries of modern filmmaking.

More Frequently Asked Questions

Where was the beach scene in“Top Gun: Maverick filmed? Breakers Beach is a very private military beach located in San Diego, California; near the Coronado Air Station and is also a part of North Island Naval Air Station, which also houses the Top Gun base.

Where is the uranium plant in “Top Gun: Maverick?” The uranium enrichment plant is located in the middle of a clearing in snowy mountains with not only an ocean nearby but also a forest. This particular plant is actually an underground bunker located at the end of a canyon.

Where did they film “Top Gun: Maverick” bar? The I-Bar is located at the Navy’s North Island Naval Air Station.