So everyone knows that I’m a huge fan of FREE events right? I was a bit taken aback about this weekends festivities taking place right on Daytona Beach. As it turns out, the birthplace of speed is also the home to the very best air show I have been to yet! Hosted by Embry Riddle Aeronautical University (yes they are all about aviation), hosts the Wings and Waves Air Show annually and a spectator couldn’t ask for more!
Spanning two days annually in early October, this event has grown from a small show to a wild ride of fun and excitement! I’ll be the first to admit, I didn’t do any pre planning for this adventure, but instead packed up my oldest and swung by my sister’s house to pickup a few more passengers. After paying $5 for parking behind the Ocean Center, we walked a few blocks to the beach and settled in for an awesome show.
Any other air shows I have been to have been at airports. Seems logical right? The Wings and Waves airshow is unique in that it is literally right on the beach. The main focus of the show is the Hilton where the spectators lined up on the beach itself, on the boardwalk, and even on the hotel balconies. Getting a hotel room this year wasn’t in the cards as it was over $300 a night, and despite being spanned across two days, you would probably want to stay two nights to make sure you aren’t kicked out of your primo viewing post. That’s not exactly frugal… Instead we grabbed folding camping chairs and setup under the shade of a palm tree between the beach and the hotel. We had perfect viewing spots and could see all the action!
My oldest lately has been all about airplanes. Partially because of the movies, but partially because we have been to other air show events in the past. Previously, we walked around other event checking out the planes on the ground, but never really stopping to watch the acrobatics or delighting in the fact that the US Air Force Thunderbirds are a real treat to watch. The ERAU Wings and Waves Air Show is different because you don’t get up close and personal, instead it’s all about the stunts. I think that is my my kid’s eyes were glued to the sky for the first hour and a half. He would wave to the planes as they flew up and did their tricks across his view. All this was going on while kids and families relaxed on the beach and played in the water.
The venue itself is actually pretty cool. There are no admission fees, and since it was an open venue, you could bring your own coolers, hairs and of course lunch! Next year I think we’ll bring our little guy’s wagon and pack for the entire afternoon. The festivities started around 11:45 and went until 4PM or so. Unfortunately he didn’t last long enough to watch the Thunderbirds, so we’ll have to catch them at next year’s Wings and Waves Air Show. While the weather was absolutely beautiful, a two year old in the Florida heat can be a bit of a crap shoot. It tired him out very quickly despite being in the shade. The Mrs. stayed home with the baby, which was actually a bit of a blessing. It would have been much too hot for him and we wouldn’t have been able to stay very long.
Our hats definitely go off to Embry Riddle who was the main sponsor of the Wings and Waves Air Show, and we look forward to coming back again next year. A few additional thoughts for planning:
- Timing is everything with this event. If you get there early, you could get great parking on roof of the municipal parking garage across the street from the hotel and cool off in the car if things get too hot. The main events like the USAF Thunderbirds usually are later in the afternoon, so if you want to go for the second half, it may be difficult to find parking, but not impossible. As we left around 1:30, the Ocean Center lots had multiple open ins, you would just need to drive around quite a bit.
- Bring sunscreen. Remember Daytona Beach can be “touristy” so if you forget yours, be prepared to drop an absurd amount of money for a tube of sunblock.
- Don’t get ripped off with parking scams! There was one lot sandwiched between two city lots that was charging $20! The Ocean Center lots were only $5, and I believe the parking garage was $10, but don’t quote me on that.
- Bring your own food and drinks. I know it’s a pain to lug from the car, but the food vending was a little on the high side. Starting at around $6 for a hotdog and chips and $3 for drinks seems a bit high to me.
- There is alcohol at this event, although security was excellent so I didn’t see anyone getting unruly. In fact it was probably the most polite crowd I have run into in quite awhile. Filled with a mix of people from families looking for free entertainment to die hard aviation buffs, everyone was polite and made room in the shade as they could.
- If you can afford it, book early s soon as the date are announced for local hotels. You don’t need to be at the Hilton, but it is “Center Stage”. Those rooms were over $300 a night, but could be worth it if you split the room a few ways with friends wanting to watch the air show.
- The Thunderbird pilots were actually hanging out at the wings and waves air show and were very cool to talk to! They were very approachable and loved talking with the kids!
Wings and Waves Air Show Details:
|Date(s):||Early October Annually||Time(s):||11-4 ish|
|Address:||100 NORTH ATLANTIC AVENUE,DAYTONA BEACH, FL 32118|
|Estimated Cost For A Family of 4:||Only Parking|
|Bring your own
food and drinks to save money!