Completed in 1916, Navy Pier is undeniably one of Chicago’s top attractions. Stretching into Lake Michigan, this year-round destination truly comes to life in the summer, with fireworks displays, live music, theatre, and cruises setting sail daily. Come fall and winter, Navy Pier is still hopping, with special events, sights, and activities that span all ages and interests. Here’s just a glimpse of the fun to be had at Navy Pier.
Rides and games
Centennial Wheel: The Centennial Wheel soars to nearly 200 feet, with year-round, climate-controlled gondolas for the most spectacular Ferris wheel ride ever. It’s an iconic part of the Chicago skyline and a treasured piece of Chicago history, harkening to the city’s 1893 World’s Fair. You can even book a VIP Centennial Wheel experience in a glass-bottomed, plush-seated gondola.
Pier Park: Pier Park is the epitome of fun. It’s where you’ll find the amazing Centennial Wheel, the Pepsi Wave Swinger, a 1920s-inspired musical carousel, and other nostalgic fairground rides — all with breathtaking skyline and waterfront views.
Amazing Chicago’s Funhouse Maze: This is Chicago’s only self-paced, full-sensory maze experience. Navigate your way through 4,000 square feet of tunnels, mazes, and games.
Amazing Chicago’s Time Freak Game: Race against the block to gather points during this high-speed, all-ages game.
Cultural attractions and museums
Crystal Garden: This breathtaking, one-acre indoor garden is housed in a six‐story glass atrium, with amazing views of the lakefront, Chicago skyline, and Centennial Wheel. Within the garden you’ll find over 80 live palm trees, lush foliage, hanging twinkle lights, and leapfrog fountains that keep kids entertained for hours.
Chicago Children’s Museum: Kids dig for bones on a dinosaur expedition, scale a three-story schooner, and even make a splash in a water playground. Chicago Children’s Museum is three floors of unadulterated fun for kids aged 10 and under. Don’t miss the Chicago Children’s Museum store while you’re there for fun, educational, and imagination-expanding toys and games.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater: This Tony Award-winning theatre hosts more than 650 performances a year, with a year-round season that presents plays, musicals, world premieres, and visiting touring companies. The theatre is particularly celebrated for The Yard, an engineering marvel in stage design, consisting of nine moveable towers that can be reconfigured to accomplish the vision of each production.
Boat cruises and tours: Whatever’s on your cruise wish list, you’ll find it at Navy Pier. Cruise on Lake Michigan and the Chicago River and experience everything from laid-back sightseeing and elegant dining to heart-pumping thrill rides and private charters. There’s even a cruise you and your dog can enjoy.
Bus and bike tours: Access any number of Chicago tours from Navy Pier, including Chicago Big Bus Tours, architecture and sightseeing cruises, Navy Pier food and history tours, and Bike & Roll Chicago tours. You can also rent bicycles to explore the lakefront at your own pace.
Public art and exhibitions: Navy Pier presents a rotating array of contemporary art designed to excite and inspire visitors. An ever-evolving schedule of art installations and exhibits keeps Navy Pier’s art scene hopping throughout the year.
Polk Bros Park: Polk Bros Fountain and Plaza at the entry to Navy Pier features a dramatic fountain with more than 150 jets that mimic the movement of waves, schools of fish, or flocks of birds. The Performance Lawns include two performance spaces to host live arts and cultural events, with Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline as their backdrops. Definitely stop in at The Peoples Energy Welcome Pavilion, too, for information about things to do and see at the pier, guest maps, and more.
Food & drink
Miller Lite Beer Garden: From May through October, the beer garden becomes one of Chicago’s go-to destinations for free, live, outdoor music. This lakeside venue also offers some of the city’s best lake and skyline views.
Offshore Rooftop & Bar: The nation’s largest rooftop bar, Offshore Rooftop & Bar offers panoramic lakefront and city views from atop Navy Pier’s Festival Hall. The space features a full-service kitchen, creative cocktails, cozy fire pits, and lounge seating.
There’s a never-ending array of food options on the Pier, representing some of Chicago’s most well-known cuisine. Here’s just a few options:
- America’s Dog & Burger: Classic Chicago-style dogs and more
- Beat Kitchen: An outpost of a beloved neighborhood venue
- Big Bowl Chinese Express: Fast and casual Asian cuisine
- Billy Goat Tavern: Home of the world famous “cheezborger”
- Brown Sugar Bakery: Homemade sweet treats straight from Chicago’s south side
- Garrett Popcorn Shops: A local legend, don’t miss the classic Garrett’s Mix
- Giordano’s: Iconic deep dish pizza, an only-in-Chicago experience
- Harry Caray’s Tavern: Barbecue, local craft beer, and sports memorabilia
- Lirica: Elevated Latin-inspired fare with sweeping waterfront views
- The Original Rainbow Cone: A Chicago classic, five flavors piled high on a cake cone
The annual summer fireworks at Navy Pier are a favorite among locals and visitors alike, drawing crowds to the lakefront for the twice-weekly show.
The summer fireworks display traditionally takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The show typically starts between 9:30 and 10:15 p.m., check the latest schedule for details.
You can see the fireworks from most areas of the lakefront immediately north and south of Navy Pier. But the show is particularly stunning from atop the Centennial Wheel or on an evening lakefront fireworks cruise.
Sable at Navy Pier
Sable at Navy Pier, part of the Curio Collection by Hilton, is the first and only hotel right on Navy Pier. Each room features jaw-dropping vistas of the surrounding lake and city skylines. Along with can’t-be-beat views, the hotel also features Lirica, with Latin-inspired cuisine, an expansive bar, and spacious outdoor seating with waterfront vistas. The best part of the new Sable hotel — it’s just steps away from everything Navy Pier has to offer.
Getting to Navy Pier
Navy Pier RTA
The Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) trip planner makes it easy to use CTA, Metra, and Pace buses and trains with real-time next-bus and next-train travel information. Access the latest transit information and the RTA trip planner.
Navy Pier Metra
Transfer from your Metra train to CTA buses and travel directly to Navy Pier. Use CTA bus #124 from Union Station, Ogilvie Station, and Millennium Station and CTA bus #29 from LaSalle Street Station and Millennium Station. Plan your route.
Navy Pier CTA bus
The following bus routes all serve Navy Pier:
#29 State (serving Metra lines from LaSalle Street Station and Millennium Station)
#124 Navy Pier (serving Metra lines from Union Station, Ogilvie Station, Millennium Station)
#2 Hyde Park Express (during weekday morning and evening rush hours only)
Taxis and rideshare
You can get to Navy Pier via taxi and rideshare from anywhere in the city. In addition to hailing taxis, you can e-Hail and e-Pay with CHICABS-approved apps ARRO and CURB. Credit cards are accepted in all taxis.