Navy Pier picture1 of 4
Navy Pier2 of 4
Westend61/Getty Images

Key Info

600 E. Grand Ave.

Price & Hours

Free
10 a.m.-7, 8 or 10 p.m. daily, depending on da...

Details

Amusement Parks, Sightseeing, Free Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.3scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 5.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Extending out onto Lake Michigan, Navy Pier offers plenty in the way of family-friendly entertainment. The first thing you'll spot once you set foot on the pier is the towering Ferris wheel (which stands 196 feet tall); you'll also find a swing-seat ride and a carousel. Once the kids have had their fill of thrill rides, you can spend some time practicing your putt at the 18-hole miniature golf course or spend a few hours exploring the Chicago Children's Museum, with hands-on exhibits ranging from treehouses to firetrucks.

But you don't have to be a kid to enjoy a visit to Navy Pier. Grown-ups can catch a show at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, flex some credit card muscle at a variety of shops or grab a drink at the Miller Lite Beer Garden. And be sure to check Navy Pier's website for a list of events: Concerts are often held here, and during the summer (and New Year's Eve), impressive fireworks displays are the norm. In fact, many of the city's top Segway tours offer special summer evening tours to the pier to catch the semiweekly fireworks show.

While many visitors appreciated Navy Pier's picturesque water views and plentiful kids amenities, some bemoaned the prices charged for rides, food and souvenirs. But, if you have a Go Chicago Card, you'll enjoy complimentary rides on the pier's Centennial Wheel and tickets for select thrill rides.

The Navy Pier complex is located a few blocks east of The Magnificent Mile and is open year-round from 10 a.m. to as late as midnight, depending on the day and season. You don't have to pay to enjoy the pier (or its evening fireworks), however, individual attractions along the pier charge $5 to $50 per ride. In addition to the pier's rides, shops and eateries, visitors will find restrooms, a parking garage and a cruise dock (where travelers can climb aboard one of the city's sightseeing and dinner cruises) available on-site. An L station is not situated within walking distance, so visitors should plan on driving, taking a bus or riding on the attraction's free trolley – which has multiple stops along State, Monroe and Illinois streets and Columbus and Grand avenues – to Navy Pier.

See all Hotels in Chicago »

More Best Things To Do in Chicago

Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain1 of 20
Millennium Park2 of 20
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain

Often referred to as "Chicago's front yard," Grant Park is a 319-acre swath of green space that starts at the eastern edge of the Loop and stretches down to the northern fringes of the Near South Side. First-time visitors should plan on spending a fair amount of time in Grant Park: This is where you'll find several of Chicago's most popular things to do, including The Field Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and Shedd Aquarium. (Millennium Park also rubs elbows with the northwest corner of Grant Park.) Baseball diamonds, flower gardens, walking paths and wide-open grassy terrain are available as well.

At the heart of Grant Park is Buckingham Fountain. One of the largest fountains in the world, this tiered water feature boasts 133 jets that shoot water as high as 150 feet into the air during 20-minute choreographed displays (which take place every hour on the hour between 9 a.m. and 10:35 p.m. from April to October). At night, the fountain's performance is accompanied by lights and music.

Read more
MattFrankel/Getty Images
See full list of Best Things To Do in Chicago »

Explore More of Chicago

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

Recommended

30 Top Wellness Retreats

Rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit at one of these relaxation-focused properties.

Kyle McCarthyNovember 21, 2019

30 Fun All-Inclusive Family Vacations

Book one of these all-inclusive trips that cover food, accommodations and activities galore.

Holly JohnsonNovember 14, 2019

5 Ways Cruise Lines Are Becoming More Environmentally Friendly

Industry considers impact as it looks to the future.

Gwen PratesiNovember 12, 2019

11 Unique and Quirky Cruise Destinations

Venture off the beaten path for an authentic cruising experience.

Christine SmithNovember 12, 2019

The 2020 Best Cruise Lines for Families

Gather up the gang and head out to sea with one of these six kid-friendly cruise lines.

Nicola WoodNovember 12, 2019

The Top Pyramids in Mexico to Visit

Add these ancient marvels to your Mexico vacation itinerary.

Lyn MettlerOctober 28, 2019

30 Top Babymoon Destinations, Trips and Ideas

From romantic beach getaways to big city adventures to glamping in the forest, these locales will inspire your babymoon planning.

Gwen PratesiOctober 15, 2019

15 Tips for Traveling While Pregnant

These tips will help pregnant women travel the world in comfort and style.

Holly JohnsonOctober 10, 2019

The Best Chicago Segway Tours

See all the top sights in the Windy City without breaking a sweat.

Marisa MéndezOctober 3, 2019

The Best Washington, D.C., Bus Tours

Here's everything you need to know about D.C. bus tours.

John RodwanOctober 1, 2019