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7 Tips to Enjoying the 2021 Atlantic City Air Show Thunder Over the Boardwalk

Initially published in 2013 but we update our tips to enjoying the 2021 Atlantic City Air Show Thunder Over the Boardwalk annually.

Every year nearly 1,000,000 people visit the beaches of Atlantic City to enjoy the Atlantic City Air Show Thunder Over the Boardwalk. It’s the best FREE air show in New Jersey.

The Atlantic City Air Show Thunder Over the Boardwalk is held annually in August. This year, the Atlantic City Air Show will be Wednesday, August 18, 2021. This year’s Atlantic City air show activities are expected to last from 11:30 am to 3:20 pm.

Atlantic City air show 2 fighter jets diving

I’ve been taking my kids to the Atlantic City Air Show Thunder Over the Boardwalk for nearly 10 years and I have some tips to make the Atlantic City Air Show Thunder Over the Boardwalk more manageable for parents. After all, it is a once-a-year event and we want you to be there when the Atlantic City Air Show returns.

The 2021 Atlantic City Air Show, Thunder Over the Boardwalk, will be on August 18, 2021.

Tips to enjoying AC Air Show

7 Tips to enjoying Atlantic City’s Air Show Thunder Over the Boardwalk

Know where there is parking for the Atlantic City Air Show Thunder Over the Boardwalk

Take advantage of public transportation, shuttles, or the Jitney service. There WILL NOT BE A complimentary round-trip shuttle service to Brighton Park and the boardwalk from Borgata.

Atlantic City casinos offer parking, rates vary. In previous years, parking in some Atlantic City garages went as high as $25-$30.

Consider also the traffic in Atlantic City, there’s a lot of stop and go and many missed the beginning of the show because they were sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Even better take the train into Atlantic City, kids under 5 ride free on New Jersey Transit.

If you’ll be shopping at Tanger Outlets, eating at Applebee’s or Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse you may be able to get free or reduced parking.

24-hour Parking: New York Avenue Garage – 19 South New York Avenue, Click here for rates

Check this site for more parking lot locations.

Arrive early for the Atlantic City Air Show

Yes, admission is FREE. Tickets aren’t required. But trust me you are going to want to get there early.

Whether you want to sit on the beach, on the boardwalk, or you’ve bought a VIP seat in a tent, get there early to claim your spot. The show usually starts between 11 -11:30 am, but families will start arriving much earlier than that.

AC Air Show

Find your own spot on the beach

Bypass the VIP tent. Park yourself on the beach.  That whole grass is greener on the other side is kind of funny. Don’t be jealous of the VIPs in the tent. It’s not always a better seat. The food in the media tent is good but the view not so much. With umbrellas and chairs all around us when we did it, the view was blocked and my kids didn’t have much room to move around. 

Thunder over the Boardwalk Atlantic City Airshow Media tent

Park your family on the beach, the kids will love playing in the sand and water in between the jets, blimps, and aerial acts and you won’t hear complaints of them being bored or have to worry about the non-family-friendly adults. Plus it’s the best view, many jets will fly right in front of your eyes. You can’t see them when you’re back in a tent behind umbrellas.

Locate where the bathrooms are BEFORE you sit down for Thunder over the Boardwalk

Nope, you don’t have to go trek into a casino when your child has to go potty. Behind the tents there are port-o-potties. They are spaced out, there was one every couple of feet.

Make sure you have your flip-flops, sliders, or sandals on. Underneath the blaring sand, the sun gets incredibly hot to walk on. I was reminded of this the hard way one year when my littlest had to go to the bathroom and we tried to make the walk barefoot. It was an incredibly painful walk, even more so when I carried him the rest of the way.

Eat on the beach at the Atlantic City Air Show

Pack lunch and snacks – You’ve found your spot on the beach. You’re comfortable. The kids are good. Do you really want to trek all the way up the beach to stand in lines for overpriced food? Enough said. Moms, dads, grownups, and grandparents you know what I mean.

Thunder Over the Boardwalk Atlantic City Air Show
One of my favorite pictures of my baby at the beach.

Pack, pack, and pack again

Atlantic City Air Show Thunder Over the Boardwalk, will run from 11:30 am – 3 pm (time to be confirmed) on Wednesday, August 18, 2021. If you arrive early that can be a long day in the sun for the kids. Make sure you are prepared.

14 Things to Pack for the Atlantic City Air Show

  1. Masks – Even if you are fully vaccinated it can’t hurt to have a mask, for everyone, for those times you’ll be walking among crowds or visiting indoor spaces like the restrooms.
  2. FLIP FLOPS ~ Do not attempt to walk on the sand without footwear. It will be painfully hot against your bare feet.
  3. Plenty of sunscreen & hats
  4. Insect repellant – You never know when those greenheads will appear.
  5. Cash & bank/credit cards – There may be vendors on the boardwalk and ice cream vendors walking the beach. Be ready for any kind of payment method.
  6. Lunch and snacks (see above)
  7. Sand toys
  8. Swim suits & towels
  9. Water bottles
  10. Ear plugs or headphones if the sound will bother you or the kids
  11. Diapers
  12. Camera
  13. Umbrella
  14. Radio– If you are close enough to the action you will be able to hear the announcers on WPG Talk Radio 104.1 FM and 1450 AM telling you about the aircraft. If not, and you want to be able to hear there are a number of stations you can tune into to hear it.

Print the Atlantic City Air Show Schedule

  • You can access the air show schedule online for free, (will be updated as performances are confirmed) or buy one at the show. But have it with you so when your kids start asking, “What is that?” you can actually tell them.

For the performance schedule, click over to our calendar event or visit the airshow website.

Atlantic City Air Show
As your children play in the ocean they can look to the sky.

Must see Atlantic City Air Show: Thunder Over the Boardwalk performances include:

1. Geico Skytypers – Scheduled for 12:44 pm.

As their name suggests, the Skytypers do skywriting in puffs of smoke. Most planes that spell out names or create midair images do it laboriously, one letter at a time, using the craft’s thick emissions trail. “We’re the only guys in the country that do it digitally at altitude, through a computer,” says Arken. [Arken is commanding officer and lead pilot for the Geico Skytypers, a squadron of six vintage World War II aircraft that performs precision flight maneuvers at airshows around the United States.] “We can do 25 letters in a minute and a half.”

2. ChefPitts Pitts Aerobatics – Scheduled for 12:01 pm. (David Windmiller Edge 540 Aerobatics are scheduled for 1:14 pm.)

3. US Army Golden Knights Flag Jump w/National Anthem – Scheduled for 11:30 am to open the AC airshow.

Air Show
We love the planes in formation. | Photo Courtesy Jersey Family Fun

With all the great performances and fun in the sun and sand what is will your favorite one be? Would love to hear what everyone’s favorite performances are and what has been your all time favorite performance if you have gone multiple times over the years. Post a comment below or on our Facebook page!

Check out our Atlantic City Air Show pictures from earlier air shows on Facebook.

For more ideas for things to do with the kids in Atlantic City after the Air Show, please visit this link.

Have you been to the Atlantic City air show? Do you have any other tips to share?

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Wendy Franceschini

Monday 16th of August 2021

Will the show go from the ocean resort to the Tropicana?

Jennifer Auer

Tuesday 17th of August 2021

I am not sure I understand your question. The best spot to see the show is on the beach in front of Boardwalk Hall, but you will be able to see it from areas to the left and right. The further you are from Boardwalk Hall, the harder it will be. As in you'll be able to see the planes but maybe not any specific maneuvers they do. - Jenn


Monday 19th of August 2019

What time do they practice the day before?

Jennifer A.

Tuesday 20th of August 2019

Midday to afternoon.


Tuesday 23rd of July 2019

So this is something my dad wants to do and it's just me, him, and my fiance... I was thinking it would be nice as a birthday present to get him the VIP passes, do you recommend? I saw you said not the best option with kids but we're all adults.

Jennifer A.

Thursday 25th of July 2019

As adults, you would probably enjoy the VIP passes. - Jenn


Tuesday 21st of August 2018

The Thunderbirds are our favorite

Samantha Rogers

Tuesday 13th of December 2016

I would really love to take my kids to see an air show next summer. I really appreciated your suggestion to pack plenty of snacks and sunscreen. It does seem like a really fun day could be easily ruined with a hungry or sunburnt child.

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