The Chicago Air and Water Show is back from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday after being canceled in 2020 and running a scaled-down event in 2021.
The free show that runs along the lake features the US Navy’s Blue Angels executing precise maneuvers and the US Army’s paratrooper Golden Knights jumping from planes at 12,000 feet to land on North Avenue Beach. You’ll also see a variety of other military and civilian pilots piloting jets, tankers, and search and rescue vehicles.
The action stretches from Fullerton Beach to Oak Street Beach, with North Avenue Beach serving as the focal point. You can arrive early, or even check out the Friday preview, to try and secure a spot to watch, but if you plan ahead you can get a truly spectacular view. (We have a full guide to the lineup, schedule, and how to get there.)
Lakeside restaurants and bars offer special food and drink packages during the show, and you can also get a close look at a skyscraper or a boat on Lake Michigan.
The restaurant on Ohio Street Beach offers a party package that includes a buffet, cooked-to-order grills, a sundae bar, and an open bar plus a view of the action from their patio. 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 550 E. Grand Ave.; tickets $124 at cafeoliva.com
Watch the show from Lake Michigan by boarding a Spirit or Odyssey ship and hanging out on the rooftop deck. Choose between brunch during the Friday preview, brunch or lunch on Saturday or brunch on Sunday. All trips include a buffet and a DJ will provide the music. 600 E. Grand Avenue; tickets $65-$125 at cityexperiences.com
The French bistro opens its terrace early and offers a special menu including chicken liver mousse pâté ($16), shrimp cocktail ($20) and mussels and fries ($31). You’ll also find themed cocktails like the Low Flying Plane, a mix of Slow & Low rye, lillet blanc and lemon juice ($13) and Oceans 75 made with Augier l’Océanique cognac, lemon juice and lemon juice. of brut sparkling wine ($15). 1-4 p.m. Saturday at 2300 N. Lincoln Park West; RSVP to 773-348-8886
Enjoy a buffet lunch with Castaways and Avli-inspired dishes plus unlimited beer, wine, a selection of cocktails, and soft drinks on this adults-only evening. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday through Sunday at 1603 N. DuSable Lake Shore Drive; $95-$115 to castawayschicago.com/airshow
Take in the show from the 27th floor while enjoying cocktails, small plates, pizza and sushi. The hall’s retractable roof will allow you to enjoy the show in all weathers. 201 N. State St.; RSVP to 312-239-9502 or roofonthewit.com/reservations
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Party on the beach with a brunch or lunch buffet, plus an upscale open bar offering frozen cocktails and Bloody Marys. Tickets don’t guarantee seating, so you’ll want to get there early or pay extra to reserve a table or cabana. 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 1603 N. DuSable Lake Shore Drive; tickets $128-$150 at 312-635-8058 and shoreclubtickets.com
Watch planes fly from the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower, where you can also learn about Chicago’s history and test your fear of heights by stepping out on the Ledge, a glass box suspended 1,353 feet in the air . 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 233 S. Wacker Drive; tickets $35 at theskydeck.com
Board the 148-foot vessel as it closes in on the action. The vessel can leave the dock and engine center stage for the best viewing of the air show – waves permitting. A full bar and light snacks are available. 11 a.m. Sunday at 600 E. Grand Ave.; tickets $99-$119 at 312-451-2700 and tallshipwindy.com
Reserve a spot on the 3-acre lot on the shores of Lake Michigan for $10 or splurge for a $100 package including brisket, pulled pork and mac and cheese from Smoque BBQ plus an open bar with beer, wine and mixed drinks. There is plenty of seating, but you can also bring a folding chair. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 2401 N. DuSable Lake Shore Drive; tickets at 312-414-1313 and theatreonthelake.com
A party for all ages includes a brunch buffet, soft drinks for the kids, and premium cocktails, frozen drinks, wine, and beer for the adults. Seating is first come first served, but you can reserve a table, daybed, or cabana for an additional fee. Stick around after the show ends for an adults-only “Catch Flights, Not Feelings” party with giveaways and guest DJs until 9 p.m. You can also access the room without purchasing the package for $10. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 1001 N. DuSable Lake Shore Drive; tickets $150 at eventbrite.com
Samantha Nelson is a freelance writer.
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