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Things To Do At Navy Pier Chicago

Navy Pier Chicago is one of the most popular attractions that has continued to impress children as well as adults for years.

Hours of operation: Monday-Saturday: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Sunday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm


600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, United States

The beautiful view of the lake, the classic carousel and Ferris Wheel are only a few of the many things to do offered here.

There are also several cruises that depart from here each day for those who want to enjoy the cool breezes on the lake in the evenings. For children there are several excellent rides, the Children's Museum, fountains, vendors and educational exhibits to keep them happy and occupied for hours. Other than these attractions, Navy Pier is also an excellent location for events. Other attractions at the pier include the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and the wildly famous IMAX Theater.

Admission to Navy Pier Chicago is free, but the parking, rides, cruises and attractions cost money. Go Chicago Card allows you to save on the rides, and offers 2 discounted cruises departing from Navy Pier - the Architecture Cruise and Tall Ship Windy Cruise.

Whether you simply want to get a great first introduction to the Windy City or are looking for an educational tour, there are several excellent cruise options available. Departing each day from Navy Pier, these cruises will allow you to admire the many tourist options of Chicago from the comfort of a cruise boat.

All Boat Cruises

Photo by Blue Diamond Photography

If you are visiting Chicago for the first time, a sightseeing cruise will be a suitable option. Sightseeing cruises will provide you a glimpse of some of the most well known landmarks of Chicago such as the Grant Park, Willis Tower, Navy Pier and much more. For something a little more exciting, opt for a speedboat tour. You can learn more about the architectural and historical landmarks of Chicago and get fascinating information about the development of the city. Afterwards you can get an exciting ride aboard a speedboat on Lake Michigan.


Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in ChicagoSee All Navy Pier Chicago hotels

If you are coming from out of town and planning on sending a lot of time at this famous attraction, there many great hotels near Navy Pier Chicago, some even within walking distance. Some great hotels include W Chicago Lakeshore, Loews, Doubletree by Hilton, Embassy Suites Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile, Sheraton Grand and a few others.

Attractions At the Pier Park

The Pier Park is a fun outdoor area with a number of attractions for children as well as adults. It features the highly popular Ferris Wheel, a mini golf, carousel and much more to keep the whole family entertained.

The Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier Chicago is the most popular attraction. At a height of 150 feet, it offers beautiful views of the lakefront and the city's skyline. All of these attractions are included in the Go Chicago Card.

Attractions At the Pier Park Chicago

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Wave Swinger: The Wave Swinger is an exhilarating ride that lifts you 14 feet up in the air, whisking you around. As it towers above the water, it provides you a breathtaking view of Chicago's lakeside.

Carousel: The classic carousel at Navy Pier features a whimsical design with hand-painted horses, frogs and other animals. Recreating the historic 1920s era, the carousal also depicts the history of Navy Pier.

The Links Mini Golf: The miniature 18 hole golf course takes visitors on a tour of themed golf holes. The golf course weaves its way around the Ferris Wheel, providing visitors a fun time.

Light Tower Ride: The Light Tower Ride is an exciting attraction meant for the adventures. As you are strapped into your seat you will be bounced to the top and then down again at high speed.

Pepsi Skyline Stage

The Pepsi Skyline Stage is a rooftop venue at Navy Pier that hosts multiple events and seats 1,500 people. It hosts a number of acts during the summer months for visitors. In summer 2014, the Skyine Stage hosted Cirque Shanghai Warriors.

Photo by Charles Carper

Amazing Chicago's Funhouse Maze

Spread over 4000 square feet, the Maze at Navy Pier Chicago features interactive effects and will have you turning and twisting as you try to find your way out. This is the place where the expression "get lost" gets an entirely new meaning! The Maze attracts thousands of visitors each year, providing great fun for the entire family as they find their way through the Mirror Maze and Spinning Light Tunnel. The Maze also features Time Freak that challenges you to race against time. Designed for people of all age groups, the game requires you to push buttons with great speed as they start lighting up. In the Atomic Rush, you simply have to choose a color and then chase it throughout the game arena. The Maze at Navy Pier is definitely an attraction not to be missed.

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One of the most exciting attractions at Navy Pier Chicago are the fireworks. Scheduled every Saturday and Wednesday throughout the summer from Memorial Day to Labor Day, as well as for special holidays such as New Year's Eve, Halloween and Chinese New Year, the spectacular Navy Pier fireworks attract a lot of visitors. The fireworks are synchronized perfectly to music as they create colorful eruptions over Lake Michigan.

Photo by Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

There are several great places from where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the fireworks. You can either stay on the dock to view the fireworks. For something even more special you can book an evening cruise to enjoy the amazing show on board the cruise. There are several additional shows throughout the year. Check the fireworks schedule in advance on the website to plan your visit. It is definitely the best way to end your visit to Navy Pier.

Fireworks Schedule

IMAX Theater

Recognized as one of the top attractions at Navy Pier Chicago, the IMAX Theater offers an unreal entertainment experience. It features the city's largest movie screen that stretches up to six stories. The theater showcases Hollywood movies, documentaries, 3D and 2D movies.

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It is an attraction that will entertain the entire family, delivering a magical experience that will ensure you are a part of the action and not just a visitor. Navy Pier IMAX Theater is unique in that it combines technology and entertainment with innovation. It partners with some of the most noted moviemakers of the world to enhance documentaries and movies.

What's on - Schedule of Movies the IMAX Theater

Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Chicago Shakespeare Theater is another popular attraction located on Navy Pier. It is open throughout the year and is one of the country's fastest growing theater institutions. Designed as a beautiful courtyard, the stage of the theater is surrounded by gracefully designed gallery, dress circle and main floor.

Photo by Arty-chan

Chicago Shakespeare Theater is an intimate theater that seats 510 people. There are only nine rows, allowing even those in the most distant seats to enjoy a good view of the stage. The theater complex also has a 180 seat flexible theater. There is an English pub, rehearsal spaces, reception area, lobby and a resource center on Shakespeare within the complex with gorgeous views of Chicago's skyline and Lake Michigan. Chicago Shakespeare Theater received a Regional Theater Tony Award in 2008 and was reintroduced in 1999 with an impressive seven story building. The theater presents high quality productions that include the work of distinguished directors and playwrights from around the world.

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Chicago Children's Museum

The Chicago Children's Museum is an award winning museum located at Navy Pier. With 57,000 square feet of space, there is plenty of space available for kids to explore, learn and have fun. The museum is spread over three floors and offers a lot of educational exhibits, special events and public programs for adults as well as children. It is currently one of the largest children's museums in the country.

Children's Museum is included in the Go Chicago Card

Photo by Wally Gobetz

Kids can drive firetrucks, play in treehouses, climb ships, make art and get involved in plenty of fun activities that will build up their knowledge. There are water work tables and dinosaur digs and plenty of great activities to discover throughout the museum. Children can also invent and build their own products using real materials and tools as the Tinkering Lab, a permanent exhibit at the museum. With so much to see and do, families can easily spend an entire day at the museum.

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If you are planning to visit Chicago's Navy Pier you'll find plenty of dining options. The Pier is home to several popular and high quality restaurants that offers good options for everyone.

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Billy Goat Tavern: This highly popular bar and restaurant at Navy Pier that made a name for itself after inspiring Saturday Night Live to create a skit based on the restaurant. Known for its "Cheezborger", it will definitely provide you a fun time.

Bubba Gump Shrimp co: This market and restaurant offers a fun and comprehensive dining experience. Along with delicious shrimp specialties you can also enjoy entertainment provided by the lively staff.

Capi's Italian Kitchen: Experience authentic Italian cuisine at this casual restaurant with wood fired pizza, fresh salads and plenty of delicious entrees.

City Porch: This pop-up, contemporary restaurant offers excellent outdoor and indoor service with a beautiful view of the Dock Street. The restaurant is opened from April to September and features a menu by Chef George Alpogianis.

Haagen-Dazs: Designed as a dockside cafe like the ones found in the company's flagship London and Paris locations, this cafe is gorgeous. It offers gourmet sandwiches, salads, baked goods and of course, ice cream.

Harry Caray's Tavern: With its spectacular waterfront location, the tavern offers a unique dining experience for the entire family. Featuring a gorgeous sports themed interior design and an extensive menu, it is highly popular with visitors.

Margaritaville Bar & Grill: With its laidback and intimate atmosphere, Margaritaville offers you the best of Chicago and the tropics. It offers a complete island experience with boat drinks, margaritas, steaks and fresh fish.

Riva Crab House: Riva Crab House is a Phil Stefani restaurant with spectacular views of Lake Michigan and Chicago Skyline. It has a lounge area, private rooms and an extensive menu and wine selections.

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Landshark Beer Garden

The Landshark Beer Garden is a fun attraction for people of all age groups. Located on Navy Pier, it is a good place to enjoy a view of the lakefront, relax and have fun. It offers a great outdoor atmosphere and a lively vibe during the warmer months. The Landshark Beer Garden offers a good variety of domestic, micro-brewed and imported beers. The highlight here is the Landshark Lager, the signature brew of the beer garden.

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Additionally, it also serves a good range of frozen drinks and cocktails. There is also a good range of popular picnic food items available such as Chicago hot dogs, hamburgers, hot wings, Italian beef, bratwurst in Landshark Lager and pizza. Open each year from May to October, the Landshark Beer Garden is quite popular with tourists as well as locals nd is among top things to do at Navy Pier Chicago in summer. It offers a good ambiance and plenty of entertainment to spend a relaxing evening or the entire day.

Winter WonderFest

Each year in winter, the Winter WonderFest adds to things to do at Navy Pier Chicago in winter! The WinterWonderfest offers a fun experience to people of all age groups. Spread over an area of 170,000 square feet, this indoor wonderland runs for about a month in winter. It features beautiful holiday decor, plenty of attractions and activities to offer a magical holiday experience to families and visitors. Each year thousands of people celebrate their holidays by visiting the Winter WonderFest. Children and adults can enjoy live entertainment, music, games and rides. A very popular attraction is Navy Pier ice scating rink. The Chicago Blackhawks rink offers fun to ice skaters with all levels of experience. There are plenty of beverages and food items available, parking and enough activities to keep the entire family entertained. If you are prepared to step outside and don't mind the cold temperatures, there are spectacular city and lake views to enjoy.

Photo by yuan2003

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Jet Ski

Located at Navy Pier, this rental company offers jet skis for rent. If you are interested in seeing Chicago in a whole new way, jet skis offer a fun and exciting way to do just that. It allows you to enjoy gorgeous views of the majestic skyline of Chicago from a great vantage point. Skimming across Lake Michigan, jet skis will provide you a thrilling and an exhilarating experience. If you are visiting Chicago in summer, a refreshing ride on Lake Michigan is one of the coolest things to do at Navy Pier Chicago in summer.

Photo by corydalus

Jet Skis will not only allow you to escape the heat but will also provide you a great sightseeing tour of Chicago. You will be able to take in fantastic views of the skyline from every direction. Take in some of the most popular highlights of the city such as the Adler Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium while riding the jet ski.

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