Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Navy Pier
Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Navy Pier

Navy Pier

Type: Attractions, Sightseeing

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10Best Says

Best Attractions & Activities: The only Chicagoans you'll run into at Navy Pier are the employees but out-of-towners and suburbanites seem to love the downtown pier that extends into Lake Michigan. Once used by the military, it's now Chicago's largest tourist attraction. You can just walk up and down the pier, taking in skyline and lake views. Or you can visit the excellent children's museum, IMAX movie theater, Broadway-quality Shakespeare plays, or ride the Centennial Wheel, a 200-foot-high ferris wheel with enclosed gondolas. There are plenty of boat ride options, too, from the zippy Seadog to a more stately Odyssey. In summer, you can watch a free fireworks show synchronized to music on Wednesday and Saturday nights. An "old Chicago" style IT'SUGAR store is brand new and offers a "Taste of Chicago Box" featuring products that originated here including Tootsie Rolls®, Baby Ruth®, Juicy Fruit®, Charleston Chew®, Chuckles®, Sugar Daddy®, and others.

Attractions near United Center, Sightseeing: Since 1916, Navy Pier has been home not only to the military but to scores of special attractions. Now purely commercial, the Pier offers everything from an IMAX theater to performances by a Shakespeare troupe. You can view dancing in a grand ballroom, ride the splendor of a fifteen-story Ferris Wheel (a replica of the one at Chicago's 1893 World's Fair), or relax to the sounds of waves quietly lapping on the lakeshore. The Chicago Children's Museum is on the second floor and there are dining options on the premises. A series of special events happen throughout the year including seasonal celebrations, festivals and cultural events to public shows in the exhibition hall space. The website has an up-to-date calendar worth checking out in advance of a visit.


600 E Grand Ave
Chicago, IL 60611

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Expert Tips by Jacky Runice

Chicago Local Expert

Best Attractions & Activities: "Free trolleys run between State Street and Navy Pier between Memorial Day and Labor Day."

Recommended as Best Attractions & Activities Because: Chicago's most popular tourist destination includes a new 200-foot-tall ferris wheel, opened in 2016.

Expert Tips by Megy Karydes

Chicago Local Expert

Attractions near United Center, Sightseeing: "Free Trolleys run between State Street and Navy Pier between Memorial Day and Labor Day."

Best for Attractions near United Center, Sightseeing Because: Navy Pier is home to an IMAX theater, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the Chicago Children's Museum and year-round special events.

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