Navy Pier, Chicago
Navy Pier, Chicago offers up a variety of lakefront entertainment options for the whole family to enjoy. With more than 50 acres of shops, parks, restaurants and amusement park rides and it’s no wonder that the Navy Pier is the most visited tourist attraction in the Midwest.
Opened as an entertainment destination in 1995, Navy Pier is nestled against Lake Michigan near downtown Chicago. When approaching the Pier, the attraction you will likely notice first is the picturesque Navy Pier Ferris Wheel. Standing an impressive 150-ft. tall, the high-riding attraction is reminiscent of the world’s first Ferris wheel, which debuted at Chicago’s World’s Fair in 1893.
Whether you’ve got kids, or are a simply a kid at heart, there are plenty of other thrilling Navy Pier attractions. A musical carousel and Wave Swinger carnival ride deliver additional fun at Pier Park. For more leisurely kid-friendly entertainment, a miniature golf course and remote control boat rentals can both be found near the base of the Ferris wheel. The Chicago Children’s Museum is also located at the Pier, and delivers three stories of hands-on learning adventures.
For those looking for less active entertainment, Navy Pier also delivers a wide range of theater-style entertainment. Take the kids to the IMAX Theater for a 6-story movie experience. Or, take in some live theatre entertainment at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. A variety of other venues, such as the Beer Garden and Skyline Stage, offer up music concerts, circus acts, jugglers and a variety of other shows.
Given the prime lakefront property, it should come as no surprise that there is plenty of opportunities for visitors to get out onto the water. Pleasure boats line the Pier, and offer tourists and locals alike the opportunity to embark on a short adventure at sea. Different boats deliver different cruise experiences. Cruiser yachts serve as an upscale setting for brunch, lunch or dinner. The 4-masted Tall Ship Windy offers a more historically themed boat cruise environment. The famous Architectural River Cruise and the Shoreline Skyline Boat Tour both depart from the Ogden Slip at Navy pier. For the thrill-seeker, speedboat tours are also available.
Navy Pier also boasts a wide array of on-shore dining and shopping opportunities. For a quick bite, check out the Navy Pier Food Court, which serves up a variety of fast food options, from burgers and pizza to Chicago-style hot dogs and gourmet sandwiches. Full-service restaurants are also aplenty, with options that include the Dock Street Café, Capi’s Italian Kitchen and Charlie’s Ale House. The dozens of shops that dot the Pier’s Family Pavilion offer a perfect opportunity to pick up a Chicago souvenir, with postcards, sunglasses, trinkets, clothing and toys all available.
Though Navy Pier offers fun and excitement all year long, seasonal events ensure new experiences every time you visit. Fireworks displays light up the night sky on certain days during the summer. Free entertainment on Dock Street is also offered throughout the hot summer months. During the winter, the Pier plays host to an open-air ice skating rink.