Chicago's Top 10 : Navy Pier

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As recently as 1995 Chicago’s Navy Pier was a drab slab of concrete projecting into Lake Michigan, formerly used as a military and freight terminal. But a huge effort to funnel locals and tourists onto the Pier has seen the installation of a variety of attractions on the waterfront – for kids as well as adults – that draw over eight million people annually, making this Chicago’s most visited attraction. An added bonus of spending time at the Pier: the breathtaking city views.

  • 600 E. Grand Avenue

  • 1 800 595 7437


  • CTA Bus: 29; 65; 56; 66; 120; 121

  • Open summer: 10am–10pm daily (to midnight Fri & Sat); Sep & Oct: 10am–9pm Mon–Sat (to 11pm Fri & Sat), 10am–7pm Sun; winter: 10am–8pm Mon–Sat (to 10pm Fri & Sat), 10am–7pm Sun

  • Free entrance but many attractions charge

  • DA


Take public transit, a taxi, or walk to Navy Pier. If driving, there are over 1600 parking spaces right on the Pier. Once there, be sure to stop off at the Guest Services desk, just inside the main entrance, to pick up a schedule for details of the day’s events, including performance times and locations for the resident comedy troupe, brass band, and a capella singing group.

Plan of Navy Pier

Navy Pier

Skip the chain eateries in favor of ribs and live jazz at Joe’s Be-Bop Café.

In summer the beer garden at the far end of the Pier offers stellar city views as well as free bands.

Join a 90-minute lake tour on a four-masted schooner, or take a ride on a Seadog speedboat.

Save money and time spent in line with a combination ticket for the Musical Carousel, Ferris Wheel, and Wave Swinger.

Top 10 Exhibits
  1. Wave Swinger

    Each of the 48 chain-suspended chairs on this colorful, old-fashioned thrill ride lifts riders 14 ft (5 m) in the air, and spins them until the skyline blurs.

  2. Chicago Children’s Museum

    Kids love this hands-on museum that educates through play. Under-twos get dedicated spaces, including a water room, with clothing protection provided .

  3. Pepsi Skyline Stage

    During the summer this unique 1500-seat theater, with its state-of-the-art acoustics, hosts ticketed pop, rock, folk, and jazz concerts against a stunning backdrop. Children’s theater, dance performances, and other live events are also staged in this intimate setting.

  4. Smith Museum of Stained-Glass Windows

    The first museum of its kind in the USA, the Smith displays 150 artworks made of colored glass along 800 ft (240 m) of the Pier’s interior corridors. Highlights include 13 pieces from Louis Comfort Tiffany’s workshop.

  5. Musical Carousel

    A quaint merry-go-round of 36 hand-painted horses and chariots located next to the Ferris Wheel replicates a similar ride installed on the Pier in the 1920s.

  6. Ferris Wheel

    It’s hard to miss the Pier’s 15-story Ferris Wheel. The slowly and continually revolving ride seats six passengers in each of its 40 enclosed cars. Daytime rides offer fine lake views, while evening rides show off the magical city lights.

  7. Chicago Shakespeare Theater

    This highly renowned theater aims to make the Bard accessible to the pleasure-seeking masses visiting Navy Pier. As well as Shakespearean standards, productions also include the “Short Shakespeare” series for younger audiences.

  8. IMAX® Theater

    The six-story, 80-ft- (24-m) wide flatscreen movie theater offers celluloid fare ranging from scientific documentaries to Disney features. Sound and vision headsets aid 3D movie enjoyment.

  9. Amazing Chicago’s Funhouse Maze

    This mirror-filled, Chicago-themed walking maze leads you on a disorienting, 15-minute trip. Expect spinning lights, startling sound effects, and new perspectives on city sights.

  10. Miniature Golf Course

    Putt your way around Pier Park via the 18 holes of this mini-golf course, situated at the base of the Pier’s Ferris Wheel. Each hole has a Chicago theme and the course is suitable for all ages.

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