Things to do at the Navy Pier

Since it first opened in 1916, the Navy Pier has been a destination for millions of tourists and locals each year. Filled with attractions that range from family-friendly to romantic, there’s always something new to do at Navy Pier.

Take in the sights at this popular destination

Ferris wheel at Navy Pier


Navy Pier has a mix of restaurants, ranging from casual to fancy, as well as a food court with many dining options. Some restaurants are seasonal, allowing visitors to take advantage of beautiful Chicago weather.


With dozens of stores that are open year-round, the Navy Pier is a shopping destination. Visit the shops in the Family Pavilion or along the Arcade for everything you could possibly want, including a huge array of Chicago-themed souvenirs. Keep in mind, though, that the shops are all special niche stores, not big-name stores or department stores.


In addition to dining and shopping, the Navy Pier boasts a number of special attractions. There’s a children’s museum, IMAX theater and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Visitors can take cruises that launch from the pier or tour the area on Segways. The Navy Pier also has special attractions unique to this destination, like the popular 150-foot-tall Ferris wheel and the Amazing Chicago Funhouse Maze. Another fun attraction is the 18-hole miniature golf course, a perfect place for families or first dates.

LandShark Beer Garden

Open seasonally, the LandShark Beer Garden offers imported beer, micro-brewed beer — like the eponymous LandShark Lager — and domestic beer. The beer garden is open to all ages and offers “picnic” food like pizza, hotdogs and wings. It’s the perfect seasonal spot to enjoy the ambiance of Chicago’s lakefront from the pier.

Attend events

From comedy festivals to live concerts, there are always special events scheduled at the Navy Pier. The pier’s website has a calendar of events, and you can purchase tickets through the site as well. Plus, there are rotating exhibits throughout the year.

Host an event

Whether you’re hosting a wedding, party or business event, Navy Pier offers a number of event venues. One of the most popular is Crystal Gardens. The beautiful venue makes a perfect wedding spot. (Hint: If you’re not there for an event, you can still visit Crystal Gardens and take in the dancing fountains.)


Throughout the height of the operating season, Navy Pier puts on an impressive fireworks display. You can watch the fireworks from several vantage points in the city, though it’s best viewed directly from the pier.

Fun Fact

Did you know it takes seven minutes to ride the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier?

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