Air & Water Show viewing, dining options

Phil Vettel recommends Air & Water Show views

One of the sure signs of the end of summer (sigh) is Chicago's annual Air & Water Show, which takes place this weekend.

The focal point of the show is North Avenue Beach, where the viewing is best (and the most crowded), but there are plenty of other good places to view the planes, including a few that are happy to wine and dine you in the bargain.

Caffe Oliva. The cafe at Ohio Street Beach (adjacent to Olive Park) offers a $125 package including great views, food and open bar from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Friday (practice day), seatings are at 10:30 a.m. ($35 minimum) and 1 p.m. ($40 minimum). For tickets, contact events@caffeoliva.com.

Castaways Bar & Grill. The best view for sale is at Castaways, which sits on North Beach. Premium views, breakfast, lunch and open bar included in the $175 price Saturday and Sunday; Friday practice-day package $120. Email Andrea Frankos at afrankos@stefanigroup.com. 1603 N. Lake Shore Drive, 773-281-1200. UPDATE: Friday tickets are still available, but Saturday and Sunday are sold out.

Dec Rooftop Lounge + Bar. The 12th floor terrace in the Ritz-Carlton Chicago is offering a "Flights & Bites" menu all day Saturday and Sunday (noon to midnight). The a la carte menu will feature beer, tequila, whiskey and wine flights ($12-$19), and plated bites for $15. Plus you get skyline views and, perhaps, the occasional roar of an overhead jet. No reservations. 160 E. Pearson St., 312-573-5160.

Oak Street Beach Food + Drink. Sitting right on the beach, this spot will feature a tent with chef's tables dishing up chicken and vegetable tacos, barbecued pork and buffalo-chicken sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, Polish sausages, mini desserts and more. Bar package includes beer, wine, cocktails (some specialty cocktails cash purchase) and soft drinks. Tickets, $125, include access to secured area from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, food (served 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and bar package (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.); contact Brooke Beck at bbeck@levyrestaurants.com, or call 773-975-3614 by Thursday. UPDATE: Saturday is sold out, but some tickets for Sunday are still available.

Odyssey, Spirit of Chicago, Mystic Blue cruises. All three boats (boarding at Navy Pier) will be offering Air & Water cruises Friday through Sunday. Friday preview cruises $39.90-$64.90; Saturday and Sunday cruises $47.90-$79.90. Reservations required. 888-957-2320 (Odyssey), 888-957-2324 (Spirit), 888-333-9150 (Mystic).

The Terrace at Trump. You won't be able to reach out and touch the planes from this 16th-floor perch in Trump Tower, but there will be times when it will feel that way. The Terrace isn't doing anything out of the ordinary this weekend, but you can enjoy lobster rolls, crab cocktails and even full seafood platters while scanning the skies for the occasional glimpse of a fighter jet. The views will be great either way. No reservations. 401 N. Wabash Ave.

Wet Deck. The sixth- and seventh-floor outdoor perches in the W Chicago Lakeshore Hotel offer terrific views of the lake. $25 gets you access to the decks (the seventh-floor deck is closed Saturday), DJ music and one drink; additional drinks and light menu available. Tickets available at the door or via brownpapertickets.com. 644 N. Lake Shore Drive.

pvettel@tribune.com

CHICAGO

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