Gear Up For the Air & Water Show

54th annual show scheduled for August 18-19th

An estimated 1 million people are expected to trek to the lakefront August 18-19th for the 54th annual Air & Water Show. The show will be held between 10 a.m.-3 p.m. both days.

North Avenue Beach will be the most crowded spot -- even if you're able to get there early enough to carve out your own space -- but nearby beaches such as Oak Street, Belmont Harbor and Diversey Harbor also traditionally provide stellar views.

Getting there doesn't have to be hassle -- especially if you take public transportation.

The CTA has extra buses and trains running all weekend, with the #72 North and #151 Sheridan buses working overtime.

Five routes have been detoured from Inner Drive to keep things flowing throughout the weekend. 

Extra Red Line trains will be available, with the Chicago/State or Clark/Division offering the closest walk to the beaches.

Extra Metra service will also be available from 10 am-3 pm Saturday and Sunday with CTA shuttles available to take passengers to North Avenue or Oak Street beach from Millenium Park or Union stations.

If you're willing to shell out some cash for a reserved spot, start with Castaways Bar & Grill, located directly on the beach. Castaways offers $160 individual tickets from 9 a.m.-4 a.m. each day, which includes breakfast, lunch and an open bar. The same deal is available for the Friday practice day for $100 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Email for tickets.

Castaways is also offering a pop-up Sand Bar Beer Garden Friday through Sunday at the Northeast corner of the North Avenue Beach Boat House. The reserved space offers unlimited food and drinks -- the only spot where alcohol is allowed within beach confines. Tickets are $60 Friday and $75 on the weekend and available here.

Party on a boat by hopping aboard The Odyssey, Spirit of Chicago or Mystic Blue at Navy Pier. Each vessel is offering cruises all weekend, which include buffets and entertainment. Click here for schedules and pricing.

Oak Street Beach Food + Drink is offering a $95 VIP tented seating area with food and drink specials both days, along with first-come first-serve seating.

The Signature Room in the Hancock Tower is always a popular spot to see the show and a couple of new nearby rooftop lounges -- The J. Parker atop Hotel Lincoln and Drumbar in the Hotel Raffaello -- are sure to be popular spots.

This year's headliners at the show include the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights and the U.S. Navy Parachute Team Leap Frogs.

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