Where to see the Chicago Air and Water Show with your family

The iconic Chicago Air and Water Show is back for more fun on Lake Michigan. This free event takes place from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 17-18. Now, where are you supposed to catch the action? Chicago has plenty of lakeshore real estate. 

Here are some spots we recommend your family check out. 

Chicago beaches

While the beaches will be crowded all weekend long, make a plan to get there early! We love the views from Montrose Beach, Oak Street Beach and 12th Street Beach.

Various locations in the city

Skydeck Chicago

As the tallest building in the city, Willis Tower won’t disappoint when it comes to spotting the Chicago Air & Water Show. The best part? You’ll enjoy the event with air conditioning! 

233 S. Wacker Drive, Chicago

Miller Lite Beer Garden at Navy Pier

Situated at the end of Navy Pier, this beer garden offers up live music and one of the best seats to enjoy the show. The live music kicks off around 2 p.m. 

600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago

360 Chicago

Families can check out the 94th-floor observatory to get some close-up views of their favorite jets and planes. If you’re feeling a rush of adrenaline, step on the TILT attraction while you’re there.

875 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago

The Odyssey Cruise

The Odyssey is hosting a series of sails throughout the weekend, with brunch and lunch cruises on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets start at $69.90. 

Milton Lee Olive Park

If you’re not feeling a beach day, head to Milton Lee Olive Park right beside Ohio Street Beach. The park will get you a different angle of the show and you might have better luck to snag a spot for your family. 

East Ohio Street, Chicago 

Seadog Lakefront Speedboat Tour

Cruise along Lake Michigan for your own thrill ride on Seadog’s speedboat tours. It’s a great option for families who want a view from the water! Tickets start at $20.95. 


Some restaurants offer some hefty prices to see the show. But, if you’re looking to splurge, Cité offers a buffet brunch with reasonable prices for Chicago families (and of course, great views of airplanes). Tickets are $65 for adults, $35 for kids ages 4-10, and kids 3 and under are free. 

Quick tips for families

The Air and Water Show is basically an all-day event out in the elements. It’s crucial to protect yourself. Don’t forget to pack the following: 

  1. Sunscreen, sun hats and sunglasses: Apply sunblock liberally and frequently. Try to use the highest protection factor you can find. Don’t forget the back of the neck, ears and backs of legs! 
  2. Shade tent: If you grab a seat along the beach, it’s helpful to set up a shaded tent like this for your kids. 
  3. Kid’s protective earmuffs: Fighter jets and the like are pretty loud. Protect your kiddos’ ears with earplugs or protective noise-canceling headphones. 
  4. Binoculars: Perhaps you didn’t grab a great seat? Binoculars can help bring the show to life and help kids see the show more clearly. 

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This article was originally published on Aug. 14, 2017. It has been updated with the most recent information.

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