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The Best Places to Watch the Chicago Air and Water Show 2023

The Chicago Air and Water Show is one of the most popular events in the city, and for a great reason! It's a chance to see some of the world's most skilled pilots and water skiers perform incredible stunts, all set against the backdrop of the city's stunning skyline. This two-day event is truly a great end of summer celebration!


Here are the best places to watch the show:

North Avenue Beach and Oak Street Beach: Two of the best places to watch the show for free. These two beaches are right in the heart of the action, and they offer unobstructed views of the Thunderbirds, Army Parachute Team and so much more! Bring a blanket, chairs and picnic basket. For the best view, stake out a spot early.

Navy Pier: Navy Pier is another great option for viewing the show. You can choose from a variety of vantage points, including restaurants and bars with outdoor patios or take a boat ride on Lake Michigan for a bird’s-eye view.

The Signature Room: This 95th-floor restaurant at the Hancock Center offers stunning views of the city, making it the perfect place to watch the Air and Water show for a luxurious feel. Book a table with the 96th floor lounge and enjoy the show with a glass of champagne.

Aloft Mag Mile: This hotel's rooftop bar offers 360-degree views of the city, including the lakefront. Soak up the views and the excitement of the show with a cocktail in hand.

Lirica: A Latin-inspired restaurant located on Navy Pier that offers a fresh take on Spanish cuisine. The name “Lirica” means “lyric” in Spanish, and the restaurant’s menu reflects this with its focus on seasonal ingredients and creative dishes. This spot is guaranteed to provide a truly unique experience and viewing perspective for the show. 

Skydeck Chicago: This iconic observation deck on the 103rd floor of Willis Tower offers breathtaking views of the city, including the lakefront. The Skydeck is open late on the days of the Air and Water Show, so you can catch the sunset and the show in one day. The Skydeck is made up of four glass boxes that jut out from the side of the building giving you a very special view of the city and show. 

360 Chicago & Cloud Bar: This observation deck and bar on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center offers stunning views of the city, including the lakefront. The Cloud Bar is open late, so you can enjoy the views and the show after dark while savoring Cloud Bar’s specialty drinks. The Cloud Bar is known for its unique atmosphere, with clouds-inspired decor and floor-to-ceiling windows for panoramic views. 

Shoreline Sightseeing Boats: Take a boat ride on Lake Michigan and get a bird's-eye view of the show. You’ll be able to see all the action up close, including the jets, water skiers and skydivers.

City Cruises: This company offers a variety of boat tours, including one that cruises right along the lakefront, where you can get a one-of-a-kind view of the show. 

Chicago Winery: This winery offers a rooftop patio with stunning panoramic views of the city, including the lakefront. Enjoy a glass of wine and watch the show from a tranquil setting.

NoMI: Enjoy a modern American menu rooted in French techniques and sweeping views of Lake Michigan. Enjoy fabulous cocktails while taking in the sights of the 64th annual Chicago Air & Water Show.

No matter where you choose to watch the show, you're sure to have a great time. So, grab your friends and family and downtown for a day of fun and excitement!

Here are some additional tips for watching the Chicago Air and Water Show:

  1. Arrive early to get a good spot. The show is very popular, and the beaches and piers can get crowded.
  2. Bring a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. It can get hot and sunny on the lakefront.
  3. Bring a camera to capture all the excitement.

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