Navy Pier. Theme Park in Chicago, Illinois

Navy Pier

Theme Park in Chicago, Illinois

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Navy Pier

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	Pier, Chicago, IL - Navy Pier
Navy Pier, Chicago, IL - Navy Pier. Photo by Maciej Ciupa
When it comes to piers, there is perhaps none more famous than Navy Pier in Chicago. Located on Lake Michigan's shore, Navy Pier was built for over $4 million USD in 1916. When it was designed, the main use was to be for cargo ships and other large freighters. While recreation and tourism were only its secondary purpose, it quickly became the most popular aspect of the pier and remains that way today as Chicago's most visited landmark. Commercial use was very prevalent at Navy Pier until the Great Depression (Wikipedia Article), but was still a hot spot for tourists. It was also used to train Naval soldiers during World War II, and didn't start to become the modern piece of attraction it is today until the 1980s.

Navy Pier - Navy Pier
Navy Pier. Photo by Robert Lowe


While Navy Pier's most famous attraction is undoubtedly its iconic Ferris wheel, there's plenty more to see and do here, including visiting the Chicago Children's Museum and Crystal Gardens.

Pier Park

Pier Park is the small amusement park on Navy Pier where you'll find its famous 150-foot tall Ferris wheel, as well as a miniature golf course, a carousel, remote control boats, and thrill rides like the Light Tower Ride which lifts you 4.9 meter into the air and the exhilarating Wave Swinger, a swing ride with great views of Lake Michigan.

Crystal Gardens

You can always escape the summer heat in this indoor botanical garden which features dozens of palm trees and beautiful fountains, as well as spectacular lake views. It's also a very popular Chicago event venue.

Amazing Chicago

Children love the Amazing Chicago attraction, which features the huge interactive Funhouse Maze, as well as two other fun-filled attractions.

Chicago Children's Museum

The Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier is one of the city's most popular attractions designed for children. Its diverse exhibits allow children under 10 to create artwork, dig for fossils, build skyscrapers, go fishing, and do many other fun activities.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater

This renowned theater company performs numerous Shakespeare plays each year, as well as other programs such as musicals and plays.

Landshark Beer Garden

In the summertime, this beer garden is always full of people enjoying the view of Lake Michigan while sipping a beer and enjoying live musical performances. The beer garden sells food and a wide variety of craft, draft, and import beers each year between May and October.

Navy Pier IMAX Theatre

When you want to escape the scorching Chicago heat for a few hours, you can visit this IMAX theatre and immerse yourself in a popular film.

Pepsi Skyline Stage

This open-air performance venue on Navy Pier is used for all kinds of events throughout the year, including music and theater performances, comedy acts, and acrobatics shows.

Public Artwork

There are four popular pieces of public artwork located along Navy Pier, including a statue of the famous psychologist played by comedian Bob Newhart (Wikipedia Article) on The Bob Newhart Show. Other pieces include The Captain on the Helm which is dedicated to courageous mariners, Crack the Whip, which depicts eight children playing together, and an 8-ton anchor that was originally used on the U.S.S. Chicago.

Sightseeing Cruises

One of the most popular things to do at Navy Pier is to go on a sightseeing cruise of Chicago. Seadog Cruises and Shoreline Sightseeing both offer tours related to Chicago's history and architecture, as well as lakefront speedboat rides, thrill rides on Lake Michigan, and fireworks cruises. Another option is the Tall Ship Windy, a schooner that provides hour-long sailing trips with breathtaking views of the Chicago skyline.


Each year, Navy Pier is home to numerous events, but there are a few that are especially worth attending if you happen to be visiting Chicago at the right time.

Winter WonderFest

In the wintertime, this festival provides visitors with a huge indoor winter playground to explore, which includes an ice skating rink, rides, and giant slides that are fun for visitors of all ages.

Snow Days Chicago

This free annual event welcomes teams of snow sculptors from all over the world to create magical masterpieces from massive blocks of snow. Highlights include a snow sculpting competition, snowboarding experiences, and fun activities for kids.

Neighborhoods of the World

This eight-week cultural festival includes live folk music and dance performances, food from all over the world, and traditional crafts from Chicago's diverse communities.

Chicago Flower & Garden Show

This annual garden show dates back to 1847 and features beautifully designed gardens, and activity garden for children, tons of shopping opportunities, and numerous gardening seminars and cooking demonstrations.

The Area

Navy Pier sits in the northern side of Chicago in the Streeterville neighborhood. This neighborhood is also home to the Magnificent Mile and saw a lot of growth during the turn of the century. One of the most notable buildings in this neighborhood is the John Hancock Center.

Practical Information

Navy Pier is easiest to access using Chicago public transportation. CTA bus routes 29, 65, 66, 124, and 2 all stop at Navy Pier and connect to other forms of transport such as CTA trains and Metra commuter trains. In addition, several sightseeing bus companies stop at the entrance to Navy Pier.

In the summertime, visitors can also use the free Navy Pier trolley, which operates between Navy Pier and State Street, or use the Shoreline Water Taxi service, which can get you around the city using Lake Michigan or the Chicago River.

Address: 600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Hours: Navy Pier's hours vary depending on the season, but it's generally open between 10:00 and 20:00 at the very least, often staying open until midnight in the summer months.

Prices: It's free to visit Navy Pier, but individual attractions like Pier Park and the Chicago Children's Museum do require visitors to pay admission fees.

Nearby Landmarks

  • Jane Addams Memorial Park, located on the West end of the Navy Pier.
  • John Hancock Center, located a few blocks Northwest of the Navy Pier.
  • Chicago History Museum, just two miles North of Navy Pier.

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    Author: koreydbeckett. Last updated: Jan 14, 2015

    Pictures of Navy Pier

    Navy Pier
    Navy Pier. Photo by peddhapati


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