Chicago's Navy Pier
600 E. GRAND AVENUE CHICAGO, IL 60611
Hours vary seasonally so check website, usually 10 am - 9 pm
local-highlights, museums, fun-paid-activities
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Navy Pier is worth the visit, whether you are a tourist or a lifelong Chicagoan.
You may have heard Navy Pier cited as a ‘tourist trap’! But it's a destination worth visiting multiple times for tourists and locals alike. The beautiful scenery can’t be beaten in the summer, with the incredible architecture of the Chicago skyline highlighted against the gorgeous blue waters of Lake Michigan. But there are activities to do year-round here! When you plan your visit, assume you will spend at least several hours here. Don't rush it; enjoy mingling with the crowds, having fun, grabbing a bite to eat, and taking in the scenery!
Navy Pier Highlights
Walking: Navy Pier juts out into Lake Michigan, almost in the middle of Chicago, and if you walk out onto the 3,300-foot-long pier, you can look back and see wonderful views of the city horizon. In the winter, you can stroll the pier's indoor arcades, which are lined with cute shops, cafes, and restaurants. They also host numerous art shows throughout the year.
Ice Cream: There are several great (touristy) places to stop and get a bite to eat, but we chose one of the ice cream carts amidst all the action.
Children’s Museum: The museum is at the front of Navy Pier and has incredible interactive exhibits, including a fire station, fossil digging, water tables, and engineering areas. A new climbing feature called the Cloud Buster has to be seen (and experienced) to be believed!
Splash Pad and Fountain: Just in front of the Children’s Museum is a fantastic fountain. The ‘pad’ is actually concrete which is different than other splash pads I have seen, but it didn’t stop my daughter from drenching herself for a while.
Ferris Wheel: We splurged and went on the Ferris wheel in the center of the Pier. The views were worth the extra money and the ride lasted about 15 minutes.
Other activities of note: A Merry-go-round and Swing-go-round are located just in front of the Ferris wheel (both require tickets). The Chicago Shakespeare Theater puts on high-quality productions year-round. Summer fireworks displays draw huge crowds on summer evenings. The small park area just to the south of the pier hosts live music and kids' concerts in the summer.