Activities & Resources
Navy Pier552in Chicago, IL 60611
about Navy Pier:
Navy Pier's most visible attraction, the 150-foot-high Ferris wheel, is modeled after the very first Ferris wheel, which was built for Chicago's 1893 World Colombian Exposition. With 40 gondolas seating six passengers each, the Ferris wheel can accommodate up to 240 passengers at a time. In the evening, the Ferris wheel's 40 spokes, spanning a diameter of 140 feet, are illuminated by thousands of lights. Admission for all ages is $6.
Designed exclusively for Navy Pier, the musical carousel is a work-of-art that recreates the Pier's Golden Age of the 1920s, when a similar carousel delighted previous generations of visitors. The carousel's 36 hand-painted animals were designed to represent the different styles used throughout the history of the carousel. Horses, chariots, and a playful frog are just a few of the carousel's animal collection. The rounding boards of the 44-foot carousel feature hand-painted scenes that depict Navy Pier's history. Admission for all ages is $5.
The Wave Swinger ride towers nearly forty feet over a reflecting pond and fountains. This exhilarating forty-eight seat swing ride lifts visitors fourteen feet in the air, and whizs them around for a thrill that offers guests a spectacular view of the lakeside. Admission for all ages is $5.
As Chicago's first full-sensory maze experience, Amazing Chicago offers a fun-filled 15-minute walk-through that challenges guests to navigate through a series of mirror mazes set in the great city of Chicago, and uses a series of visual and audio special effects to entertain and guide the guests through the maze. The maze features three distinct areas of the city: Underground Chicago, Landmark Chicago, and Above Chicago. Admission for adults is $10.95 and for children and seniors it's $9.95. [888.893.7300; www.amazingchicago.com]
At the Links Miniature Golf Course, visitors are invited to putt their way around Pier Park on the Pier's 18-hole miniature golf course. The attraction weaves visitors around the base of the Ferris wheel while taking them on a tour of Chicago-themed golf holes. Admission for all ages is $5.
Museums and Gardens:
The Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows, is a permanent display of 150 stained glass windows housed in an 800-foot-long series of galleries along the lower level terraces of Festival Hall. Open since February 2000, it is the first museum in the United States dedicated solely to stained glass windows. All of the windows were designed by prominent local, national, and European studios and most were originally installed in residential, commercial, and religious buildings in the Chicago area. Admission to the Museum is free, and the museum is open Sun-Thu 10am-8pm; Fri & Sat 10am-10pm.
Chicago Children's Museum is an interactive and educational oasis, and is one of the most popular children's museums in the United States. Admission is $9 for adults and children, $8 for seniors, and free for members and children under 1. The museum is open Sun, Wed & Fri from 10am to 5pm and Thu & Sat from 10am-8pm, with Free Family Night every Thursday from 5pm-8pm. The Museum is also open on most school holidays, and the first Monday of every month is free from 10am to 8pm.
The Crystal Gardens, located at the East End of the Family Pavilion, is a one-acre indoor botanical oasis. This six-story, glass atrium features 70 full-size palm trees and a variety of seasonal flowers and plants. Dancing fountains and public seating areas provide a peaceful setting despite the bustling Pier and nearby city.
Theaters and Stages:
The Chicago Shakespeare Theater opened at Navy Pier in October, 1999. The new theater marks a milestone in Shakespeare Repertory's vision to create a permanent home for the performance of Shakespeare in the heart of Chicago. Tickets are available by calling Chicago Shakespeare Theater Box Office at 312.595.5600. See our calendar for show schedule.
The IMAX Theater, located in the Family Pavilion, is a 440-seat theatre featuring a six-story, 60 x 80-foot screen enhancing both 2D and 3D IMAX movies. Special lightweight headsets with liquid crystal lenses create the three-dimensional effect for 3D movies. Each headset is equipped with its own Personal Sound Environment Digital Sound system which enhances the theater's 11,000-watt-sound system. Admission prices vary. Check the schedule and purchase tickets at www.navypierimax.com.
The Pepsi Skyline Stage, with its magnificent vaulted roof structure, provides an intimate setting for performances and musical concerts. Special features include radiant heated floors, retractable side enclosures, and a landscaped outdoor patio adjacent to the concession area. Chicago's only performance pavilion on the lake, Pepsi Skyline Stage has become one of the Pier's most popular attractions. Skyline Stage is open from May through September. Tickets can be bought through Ticketmaster, at the Skyline Stage Box Office, or at the Arie Crown Theater Box Office, located in the Lakeside Center of McCormick Place.
Dock Street Stage is one of several free entertainment stages. It is programmed throughout the summer with a variety of acts for the entire family.
Build-A-Bear Workshop is a fun-filled store where visitors make a stuffed animal. After choosing an animal and stuffing it, kids can give it a heart and a name. A personalized birth certificate or storybook is also included. Visitors can choose from over 250 outfits and accessories for their new furry and well-dressed friend. Build-A-Bear parties can also be scheduled. Book online at www.buildabear.com, call 1.877.789.BEAR, or contact the Navy Pier Build-A-Bear store directly. [312.832.0114]
Bike Chicago at Navy Pier offers all new bikes and skates for rent by the hour, day, or week. Bike on your own or join a Bike Chicago free guided tour. Tours depart daily from the Pier at 11:30am, April through October. Group Discounts are available. Call for rentals and tour reservations, or visit online at www.bikechicago.com.
Or borrow a Segway for a two-hour guided tour of the lakefront: call 312.663.0600, email Sales@mysegwayexperience.com or visit mysegwayexperience.com for details. Segway riders must be 12 years or older; the fee is $75/person.
Magic Masters features a collection of magic tricks, antique magic books and magic memorabilia. Visitors may also find themselves part of a demonstration show on magic tricks.[312.321.1100]
Boats and Cruises:
Available along Navy Pier's Dock Street, a wide range of vessels offers visitors everything from elegant dinner cruises that include dancing and live entertainment to speedboat rides along Lake Michigan and water taxi rides between lakefront attractions.
Nestled in this scenic setting is the Chango Loco, closed on weekdays during the winter months. Offering indoor and outdoor seating, the restaurant features Mexican cuisine.
The Billy Goat Tavern, widely recognized from the Saturday Night Live skit featuring John Belushi, is the fifth rendition to open in the city. Pier visitors can now enjoy a "cheezborger."
The Häagen-Dazs Cafe - a sure bet as a kid-pleaser - features world-famous ice cream, baked goods and gourmet deli sandwiches and salads. The dockside café is modeled after the Häagen-Dazs concepts on the Champs Elysées in Paris and in Leicester Square in London, two of the company's international flagship locations. Families can choose to sit in the ample seating in-doors or outside on the patio.
Navy Pier is well-designed and easy to navigate. Maps are on the web site and at information stations. A good place to begin a visit is the Family Pavilion. Anchored by the Children's Museum and the IMAX Theater, it is also home to 40,000 square feet of restaurants and retail shops. Just beyond are the Crystal Gardens, which provides a year-round center for family activity.