Dine and Drink During the Chicago Air & Water Show

In case the thunderous planes rocketing through the sky don’t give it away, the Air & Water Show is an unmistakable harbinger of late-summer fun in Chicago. Taking place August 20 and 21 this year, coupled with preceding days of "practice runs," it's pretty impossible to avoid the show no matter where you are. But if you really want to do it right and drink it in proper than you need a fitting al fresco setting. Because nothing says "summer in Chicago" like patios and fighter planes. Here's where to dine and drink with a view this weekend:


LondonHouse; photo by Nicholas James

LondonHouse: One of the hottest openings of the year so far, the LondonHouse hotel boasts the city’s first tri-level rooftop, with the bulk of the scene positioned on the hotel’s 23rd floor. Get there early, aka immediately upon opening, because this place fills up fast. That being said, it’s well worth the extra effort, considering the impeccable views of the Chicago River and downtown. And considering the high-soaring vista, it’s an apt spot to sip some cocktails (try the Scotch cocktail infused with edible charcoal) and marvel at the planes roaring overhead. 

The Signature Room: Get high at The Signature Room. And by that I mean ascend 95 stories in the air to marvel at the air and water display from one of the ultimate vistas in the city. The restaurant is hosting a special Chicago Air & Water Show viewing party from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. This high-flying fete includes picture-perfect seating, a gourmet buffet, and a bar stocked with cocktails. Tickets cost $150 per person and can be purchased by calling the restaurant. 

Streeterville Social at the Loews Hotel Chicago: Perched on the third floor of the Loews Hotel, Streeterville Social is not only the largest rooftop terrace in town, but it affords amazing views without any of the terrifying fears of heights. An enormous makeshift lawn on north side of the rooftop is a great spot to spread out, relax, and look up into the sky at the action. There’s also lawn games, comfortable al fresco chairs, and an action-packed bar churning out reliable beers, wines, and summery cocktails. 

Harry Caray’s Tavern: With its location right on Navy Pier, Harry Caray’s Tavern has a front-row seat to all the sea and sky action. The menu is perfect for lingering and noshing all afternoon long too, with comfort foods of all kinds, like pizza, burgers, meatloaf, chicken wings, and more. 

Castaways: What Castaways lacks in height, it more than makes up for in front-row seating. Located smack dab on the sands of North Avenue beach, amidst the nexus of the festivities, Castaways is prime seating all weekend long. In special celebration of the events, Castaways is offering $120 tickets for a special practice day event on Friday, August 14, which includes a breakfast and lunch buffet and an open bar from 9:00 a.m. until the end of the show. On August 16, Castaways is at it again with $175 tickets for the same spread, available 9:00 a.m. until show's end. Tickets can be purchased by emailing Colleen Quinlan at cquinlan@stefanigroup.com. 

The J. Parker: For a bit of a different view, head to Lincoln Park's Hotel Lincoln and ride the elevator up to the J. Parker. Here, on the 13th floor of the boutique hotel, you'll revel in awe-inspiring views of Lincoln Park proper, the downtown skyline, and of course the shores of Lake Michigan. It's a beautifully apt spot to marvel at the Air & Water Show all weekend long. The rooftop bar will also be holding a few select tables on a first-come, first-serve basis for hotel guests. Locals can make table reservations by calling the bar ahead of time.

- Matt Kirouac