The annual Chicago Air & Water Show makes its triumphant return to North Avenue Beach on August 19th & 20th for another weekend of aerial magic and water-front stunts.

In preparation for the big event, be sure you have your viewing spot settled. The beach might seem like the most rational place to watch the show, but it can get overwhelmingly crowded on the weekend.

Keep reading for some of the city’s best places to watch the show.

From the Roof

If you’ve been in need of a reason to visit a Chicago rooftop bar, this is it. There are quite a few rooftop hangouts in Chicago that will be offering prime views of this year’s show.

Photo Credit: J. Parker (Boka Restaurant Group)

The J. Parker | Lincoln Park

Atop Hotel Lincoln is the J. Parker, a chic rooftop hangout with dazzling views of the city. Craft cocktails and seasonal small plates await you here; don’t miss the specialty cocktail, The Aviation, being served in honor of the Air & Water Show.

Cindy’s | The Loop

Perched above the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, Cindy’s rooftop in the Loop features an open-air terrace with panoramic views of Millennium Park, the Art Institute, Lake Michigan, and beyond.

The Signature Room | Streeterville

It’s not quite a rooftop setting, but the views don’t get much better than the 95th floor of the John Hancock building. For $175/person, your exclusive all-day admission treats you to premium seating, a gourmet buffet, an extensive bar package and one of the best views in the city.

From the Beach 

While the main hub of the Air & Water Show is North Avenue Beach, there are a few Chicago beaches that offer great views, and might have a little more room to spare.

Photo Credit: Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events

North Avenue BeachLincoln Park

If you’re looking to watch the show from home base, you’ll want to head to North Avenue Beach early on the 19th or 20th. Prime viewing spots are sure to be taken up early.

Oakwood Beach | South Shore

Looking to enjoy the show in a more relaxed, less-crowded setting? Oakwood Beach is the place for you.

Photo Credit: Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events

Montrose Beach | Lakeview

If you’re looking to take in the show with your furry friend, you should check out Montrose Beach. With a dog-friendly area, it’s the perfect setting for you and your pooch to enjoy the sights and sounds of this always-anticipated event.

Ohio Street BeachStreeterville

Another popular spot to catch the show is Ohio Street Beach, where you can enjoy an all-you-can-eat-and-drink package at Caffé Olivia. For more info, head here. 

From the Water

Take your beachfront view to the next level and hop on one of Chicago’s cruise lines!

Odyssey | Mystic Blue | Spirit Cruises

All three of the Chicago cruise lines will be operating throughout the weekend for people to enjoy the Air & Water Show. To learn more about pricing and the schedules, check out the links above.

Written by Mark Grossi
Mark is a Marketing Associate at @properties. Originally from Detroit, Mark has resided in Chicago for the past four years. Mark enjoys live music, hunting for vinyl records at local record shops, and trying new things.