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Navy Pier: Things To Do, Where To Eat, & More

Why Visit Chicago's Navy Pier

Located in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood, today it is one of the most popular attractions in the Midwest, housing over 50 acres of fun for the whole family. Navy Pier is a magnificent 3,300-foot-long pier on Lake Michigan's shoreline that dates back to 1916.
Like 360 CHICAGO, the Navy Pier is one of the most visited landmarks on Chicago's lakefront for visitors and locals. Originally known as "Municipal Pier," it was designed as a hub for freight boats, passenger vehicles, and an array of events, including expos, conferences, and pageants. Navy Pier is an amusement park with rides and games, cultural attractions, restaurants, an exciting variety of parks, shopping options, walkable gardens, and more that line the pier.
Here are some highlights of what's in store for visitors to the Chicago Navy Pier.

Things to do at Navy Pier

There's plenty of entertainment value at Navy Pier! 

Many top city attractions on the pier include live outdoor music, the starting point to some of the city's best lakeshore cruises, tours and boat rides, interactive games, shops, and cultural attractions. Here are some of the top things to do at Navy Pier below. 

The Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Experience cultural performances at its finest with several theater spaces indoors and outdoors that produce as many as 19 plays and 650 performances a year. 

Theaters include the Jentes Family Courtyard Theatre with 500 seats and three seating levels designed to mirror England's Royal Shakespeare Company's Swan Theatre or the Yard. This new stage features "towers" that allow performances to have varying sizes of audiences from 150 to 850 ticket holders. Watch for a lineup of performances, including Shakes Fest, All Is Well That Ends Well, and modern performances like The Notebook: A Musical. Find out the lineup of stage productions at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre here. 

Chicago Children's Museum

Make it a family day at the Chicago Children's Museum for all-day fun on three floors of hands-on, interactive exhibits. There is something every child, including babies to toddlers, Ages 4-8 years and 9+ years. Exhibits include 

  • The Dinosaur exhibition, where children become little archeologists and discover bones. 
  • Budding artists can hone their creativity at the art studio while they paint, sew, sketch, sculpt and mold a variety of masterpieces and designs. 
  • Within the museum is the Chicago Fire Department-sponsored exhibit called "Play It Safe," a space that allows kids to dress up as a firefighter, drive the fire truck, and put out a "fire."
  • Kids can climb and play on the multi-leveled Cloud Buster - a 37-foot kids zone where participants climb, crawl, leap, and traverse through the structure, including the section "Apartment"​​ that resembles a real-life apartment.
  • Scale a three-story schooner from the cargo hold to the crow's nest. 
  • Make a big splash in a squirting, pumping water playground (raincoats provided!). 
  • Tinker with real tools and materials in the ultimate DIY maker space. 
  • Construct a skyscraper, fish in a river, shop in a grocery store, and much more. 

Visit the Chicago Children's Museum website to discover all the activities and exciting program calendars.

The Centennial Wheel

It's a show-stopping centerpiece of Navy Pier that thrills riders year-round. The illuminated 196-foot-high Ferris Wheel seats over 500 people at a time, towering over Chicago's scenic shoreline and Navy Pier. Look west to get beautiful views of the Chicago city skyline and east for views of Lake Michigan.

The Centennial Wheel is perfect at sunset or after dark, especially in the summer time when you can catch a fireworks display on Wednesday and Saturday nights from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend or the biggest fireworks showcase on New Year's Eve. (Note that 360 CHICAGO is an ideal vantage point to watch the Navy Pier Fireworks from above.) 


Views of Navy Pier at dusk- one of the most romantic things to do in Chicago


Food & Drink At Navy Pier

As one of Chicago's most popular tourist destinations, Navy Pier offers a wide variety of food and drink options. Whether you're looking for a quick snack or a sit-down meal, you're sure to find something to your taste

Harry Caray’s Tavern

This iconic tavern has an incredible waterfront location where you can take in beautiful views of the lake while enjoying delicious food and drinks.

The drink menu at Harry Caray’s Tavern features a wide selection of craft beers, wine, and cocktails. The food menu is packed full of mouth watering options as well, including smoked barbeque, tasty burgers, fresh salads, and so much more

America’s Dog & Burger

Joining Navy Pier 1996, this staple is home to classic Chicago style hot dogs that are a must try. America’s Dog & Burger also features 7 distinct, 100% black angus beef and turkey burger burgers as well as grilled chicken sandwiches, and green salads. 

Billy Goat Tavern

With a rich history dating all the way back to 1934, Billy Goat Tavern has built a reputation for offering delicious food and a great experience. You can try one of their most popular dishes, the “Cheezborger”—a one-of-a-kind burger on a kaiser bun with kosher dill pickles, onion, cheese, and several 100% beef patties.


Home to the famous deep dish pizza you’ve been craving, Giordano’s is a must stop location for pizza lovers. Chicagoans have been enjoying the unique pizza recipe for over 40 years and now you can try it when visiting Navy Pier. 


Cruises & Tours

Boat Cruises

Whether you’re interested in taking a relaxing boat cruise or you’re looking for a thrilling adventure, there’s a boat cruise for you. Join an architecture and sightseeing boat tour for a more casual experience or hop on a speedboat for an exhilarating ride on Lake Michigan. 

Bike Tours

Start a bicycle tour at Navy Pier and see the city on wheels. You can choose to bike on your own or join a guided tour where you can enjoy Chicago’s best attractions and learn its unique history. 

How to Get to the Navy Pier

Coming from Michigan Avenue

If you are visiting 360 CHICAGO, Navy Pier is just a short eight-minute ride or about 30 minutes walk away from Navy Pier, at 600 E. Grand Avenue.

Plan Your Trip

Chicago's RTA has a handy, easy-to-use trip planner that helps you plan out when to go and what bus or train to take to get to Navy Pier when you want from anywhere in the greater Chicago area. You can find the trip planner here. 

While in Chicago, there are 5 bus routes that service Navy Pier. Plan your trip within the Chicago area using the CTA trip planner here. 

Uber or Lyft Pick up and Drop-Off Points

There are specific ride-share pick-up and drop-off areas in 3 areas of the park. You can find them:

  • West- Located at the Main Entrance to Navy Pier
  • Center -Located at the mid-parking circle
  • East - Near the east parking circle 

Both Uber and Lyft will show these areas in their Apps.

Taxi Service to and from Navy Pier 

  • Navy Pier has made it easy for drop-off and pick-up for taxis. There are 3 locations at Entrance 1: The West Entrance closest to Festival Hall, RIVA, and WBEZ Radio. 
  • The West side of Navy Pier is closest to Dock Street and the Family Pavilion.
  • Entrance 2: The East entrance closest to the east section of Festival Hall, the Beer Garden, and the Grand Ballroom. Taxis in Chicago accept credit cards and cash.


Parking at Navy Pier is easy and convenient. There are two on-site parking garages— The West Garage and East Garage. Parking rates start at $16/ per hour. For electric vehicles, there are free charging stations in both garages. 

Visiting the Navy Pier in Chicago is one of the top bucket list destinations in the city. There is definitely something for all ages and interests.


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