Make your way over to the most visited cultural destination in the Midwest. Whether it’s your first or 15th time, there’s always something new going on at Navy Pier any time of the year. Since opening in 1916, the popular attraction overlooking Lake Michigan continues to attract tons of visitors—9 million a year and growing—drawn to the eclectic experiences ranging from fun rides to exciting theater, dining, and thrilling tours on the water.
Amusements for All
One attraction that stands out as quintessential Chicago is the iconic Centennial Wheel which offers a bird’s eye view of the marvelous skyline. When it comes to rides and games for the entire family Pier Park is the place where you’ll find the Pepsi Wave Swinger, classic Carousel, Climbing Walls and Virtual Rush: Chicago, among others. Be sure to get your tickets and have a blast!
Arts and Entertainment
As for culture, Navy Pier features fine productions and programming at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Along with classic works by William Shakespeare, the company presents contemporary plays and family programming.
Families are also welcome at the Chicago Children’s Museum, the ultimate paradise for learning and play. Highlights include the Tinkering Lab, Dinosaur Exhibition and the Pritzker Playspace where kids are encouraged to interact with everything they encounter.
Meanwhile, grown ups head to the Miller Lite Beer Garden for cold drinks and free live music performances from May through October.
Navy Pier is also a starting point for several tours, all of which are a fantastic way to take in vibrant Chicago. Depending on whether you want to be on the water or not, there’s an option for everyone such as the Sea Dog River and Lake Architectural Tour which travels through the historic Chicago Locks and up the Chicago River and features views of famous buildings including the Tribune Building and Lyric Opera. There’s also Big Bus Chicago, Bike & Roll Chicago and for the super adventurous, Vertiport Helicopter Tours.
On any given season, chances are there is a big event going on at Navy Pier. Summertime is all about the fireworks, and that’s not just for Fourth of July! Fabulous colors illuminate the Chicago sky during the biweekly Aon Summer Fireworks shows which take place on Wednesdays and Saturdays from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Film fans have Water Flicks, a free outdoor movie series at Polk Park, a free outdoor movie series from late June through early August. There’s also the Chi-Soul Fest and Make Music Chicago as well as public programs that get people moving like Stroller Grooves and Rush Hour Workouts where all are welcome.
So what are you looking forward to doing most the next time you visit Navy Pier?