Been here? Rate It!
The pier provides the visitor with 50 acres of entertainment. There are shops, restaurants, attractions & promenades. My highlight was the Ferris wheel in Pier Park. It's 150 ft high and the 7 minute ride in one of the gondolas gives you a spectacular view of the city skyline.
Walking Navy Pier
Even though I have been to Navy Pier many times, I had never walked the entire area until my friend Rosie [rozehill} and I spent several hours there in October, 2008.
I will say that I was impressed with the vastness of the area, the historic significance of the architecture, and the number of different activities offered.
The first thing that we saw was 19 acres of park called Gateway Park. Of that area, I enjoyed the digital computerized granite fountain as seen in my 5th photograph. Rosie and I were mesmerized by the shooting water, colored lights, and continual patterns created.
After the lovely park, we came upon the Headhouse and Auditorium, two historic buildings on the Navy Pier. Both buildings were designed by architect Charles Summer Frost in about 1916. They are the most western of the structures here. My first photograph is of Navy Pier Headhouse. This name comes from the area at the time of its construction [Headlands]. Then, the two towers housed tanks for the fire sprinkler system. Today, the Headhouse is the Chicago's Children Museum.
You cannot go to Navy Pier without seeing up close the 1893 World Columbian Exposition Ferris Wheel. This Ferris Wheel is 148 feet high. See Photograph #2
Moving eastward, we saw an attractive glass structure towering over the area. It is the seven-story Shakespeare Theater Complex that features a 525 seat theater. I just read in the paper, that one of the plays presented there this summer has won a Jefferson Award.
Rosie and I also saw the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows which did not open until 2000. I have a tip about it also
I also thought the 44 foot high musical carousel with its hand-painted animals was a delight.
In addition Navy Pier features: an 18-hole miniature golf course, an IMAX Theater, a 40 foot high wave swinger, and a Fun House Maze. [because it was October, a special Halloween exhibition was available]. Furthermore, Navy Pier has the Crystal Gardens ( one-acre indoor glass atrium with 70 palm trees.
No doubt, the boat trips available at Navy Pier are numerous. There are so many cruises from which to choose. I have a tip about the cruise that Allan and I took with grand daughter Sabrina.
Navy Pier's long and interesting history: It was first known as Municipal Pier and originally designed as a shipping & entertainment area, but during both WWI and WWII, it was used as a military facility. In 1927, it was renamed NAVY PIER in honor of WWI Veterans.
Then in served as the Chicago branch of the University of Illinois. Once the university move , the pier went into decline. In 1976, redevelopment began and went on until 1994. The updates, additions, and renovations are continual. Today, it attracts over 8 million visitors per year. Rosie and I were two of those visitors!
- Family Travel
- Historical Travel
Navy Pier - A Good Starting Point
It is Chicago's #1 tourist attraction and there is a lot to do at the Navy Pier. The Pier stretches out into Lake Michigan and has a multi-story building built on it. There are Exhibits, Boat Tours, Restaurants, and Bars. Right out front is the 12 story Ferris wheel and there are exhibits on the inside of the building. An Imax and Meeting Space make this an entertainment Complex like no other.
The Pier is where the Architectural River Cruise departs from and it's a good place to get a bite to eat although the restaurants tend to be on the touristy side. Bubba Gump's Anchor's the Pier to the City.
In the winter time the winds coming off the lake are biting cold. But you can escape indoors to get away from it. One plus is that there is a lot of parking on-site and any taxi can get you there. Because it's centrally located it's a great place to meet up before heading out on the town.
- Family Travel
We took a free trolly from the front of our hotel to Navy Pier. Navy Pier is a 50 acre pier on Lake Michigan containing parks, restaurants, boat rides, an amusement park, food court, IMAX, museum, a stained glass museum containing Tiffany's and a large beer garden at the end.
Navy Pier was built in 1914 and was the world's largest pier. In 1927, it was renamed Navy Pier in honor of World War I veterans. It served as a naval training facility during the second World War. After the war it served as the Chicago branch of the University of Illinois. In 1976 it was redeveloped to become a tourist attraction
- Family Travel
View from the other side
Navy Pier is a fun place to visit for all the family. Offering visitors more than 50 acres of parks, promenades, gardens, shops, restaurants and attractions.
Also when visiting Navy Pier you get a great view of the Chicago Skyline, great for taking some fantastic pictures to get everyone at home jealous.
- Theme Park Trips
Great view of Chicago skyline from the Yacht Club!
While standing beside the M.V. 'Abegweit', a simple turn to the north revealed some great views of Chicago's downtown core. Looking across a few of the many pleasure boats moored in Monroe Harbor, which also stretches for a long distance on the other side of the 'Abegweit', I could see the distant top of the John Hancock Center with its twin anntenae poking up amid the forest of modern glass skyscrapers. Although I never had time to actually visit it, by swivelling a bit further to the east I also had a great view of the amusements located on Navy Pier (2nd photo), all the way from its Ferris Wheel at the left to the twin towers of the Grand Ballroom at the end of the line.
- Business Travel
Lots of FUN!
Located on Lake Michigan, there's plenty to see and do on this 50 acre parcel of land. From rides to restaurants, exhibitions to entertainment, shopping to dining cruises and tour boats Navy Pier has it all! There's much more to do and see when the season permits, so although it was nice to see during Fall/Winter...I've been told Summer is the most pleasant time to experience this place and all it's happenings.
Wow, listing what's NOT at Navy Pier might be easier than listing what IS there. Anyone can find something to do.
Lots of food, ranging from nice sit-down restaurants to a food court to McDonalds to a variety of food stands scattered across the pier. I recommend Bubba Gump, they have excellent food and a fun staff. Expect to be quizzed on your knowledge of the movie Forrest Gump.
There are quite a few small shops. You can get some Chicago souvenirs or Build-A-Bear or get imported items from all over the world.
As far as activities at the Pier, it is the home of the Chicago Children's Museum. It's a great place for young kids to learn while they play. There is an IMAX theater, a Shakespeare Theater, one or two stages, and roaming entertainers such as clowns and magicians. For a spectacular view take a ride on the huge Ferris Wheel. There are other rides and a mini-golf course near the Ferris Wheel.
Also on the pier there is a museum of stained glass. It is free and very interesting. It features 150 stained glass windows. It's usually fairly quiet and uncrowded.
A lot of boat tours leave from Navy Pier. The basic tours are decently priced and are pretty good. You can also rent bikes, roller blades, and these funky bike-carriage things that seat up to four people.
Navy Pier has a lot of festivals and special events. During the summer there are fireworks shows every Wednesday and Saturday nights. The entire pier becomes "haunted" in October and is decorated for the holidays in December. You can check the website below for a list of events when you will be there.
Parking is available but is rather expensive, just like public parking in the rest of Chicago. It can also be reached by public transportation.
- Family Travel
This is a redeveloped Chicago landmark contains shops, restaurants, rides museum and theatre. There is also a 150’ high Ferris wheel. You can catch the free trolley at State and Grand to avoid the long walk.
4th Of July Fireworks
On July 3rd they do a fireworks show on the lake. They had around 1 million people show for it. Its nice to go see. They also do fireworks the 4th and during the summer they do them on Sats, and another day during the week. So Im sure you can get your fill someday.
The Navy Pier is a massive hunk of concrete that reaches out into the waters of Lake Michigan. It offers fantastic views of the city skyline, along with all kinds of touristy entertainment, like a fun fair. The fair has a giant ferris wheel that offers even more amazing views of the city. It's a huge platform in the water, though, and so there's more than that. Plenty of restaurants and bars, and when I was there, there was something special going on.
A huge queue had gathered outside a ballroom. The people were all excited, and holding strange objects, sometimes with large paper rolls under their arm. I asked one guy at the end of the queue what it was all about: it was an audition for American Inventor.
The pier was originally called Municipal Pier No.2 (the first one never got built). It was used primarily for disembarking the passenger boats that once plied the lake in large number. With the decline of passenger ships on the lake, it was taken over by the Navy during WW2 (hence the name), and then became a massively popular public venue.
Navy Pier from war to amusment park
Navy Pier has been converted into an amusement park on the water, you can enjoy a hot Chicago day on the big ferris wheel (which gives you a different view of Chicago), or take a ride on the space shuttle. But Tal opted to try out the frozen yogurt beads that she swears are like candies. Finally we managed to sit down for a minute with my brother Mike and get our picture taken on the end of the pier with Lake Michigan in the background.
- Theme Park Trips
We really did not know what to expect when we decided to visit the "Navy Pier". It sure didn't turn out to be anything like what we expected ( Navy ships, fishing boats, not sure?).
Basically , it is a pier at Lake Michigan with lots of stores, restaurants, boat rides, and a ferris wheel. The view of the lake was nice, plus you could see the city skyline, which makes you realize how large Chicago is. I would have liked to go on a boat ride, but we didn't have time.
Boat trips on Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan is so much larger than I had expected. If I didn't know any better I would have thought it was the ocean. There were even waves.
There are lots of boat tours that leave from the Navy Pier. Some of the boats looked very extravagant, but I would have liked to go on the Pirate ship....
Navy Pier - for great views of Chicago
Take a walk along Navy pier, not necessarily for the rides and shops but more for the super views of Chicago skyline that you can see from the end of the pier. For even better views take one of the many lake cruises that leave from the Pier. We did this and got some incredible views of the city.
- Family Travel
- Save up to 50% on hotels.
- Hotwire.com Hotwire: Get a 4-star hotel for a 2-star price.
- Save Up To 50% On Hotels
- Orbitz.com Find great deals on Orbitz & pay no hotel change or cancel fees
Explore the World
- Washington State
- Saugatuck Hotels
- Umhlanga Rocks Hotels
- Fort McMurray Hotels
- Obudai-sziget Hotels