June 25, 2007

Navy Pier

It’s impossible to talk about Chicago attractions without talking about Navy Pier. It’s the place to go when you can think of absolutely nothing else to do. There’s always something going on there.

navy pierThis 3,000-foot attraction on the shoreline of Lake Michigan was originally opened to the public in 1916. It was known as “Municipal Pier #2″ (#1 was never built), and it was both a shipping and entertainment area. And while it experienced a “golden era” of success, its popularity declined in the ’30s, due to the introduction of cars, the opening of movie theatres, and the lack of shipping during the Depression. The Navy used the Pier during the ’40s to train pilots, metalsmiths, and diesel engine technicians, and the University of Illinois transformed the facility into an undergraduate branch campus in the 1950s. Unfortunately, by the 1970s and ’80s, Navy Pier became an abandoned, unused eyesore.

In 1989, the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority took control of the pier and spent $200 million renovating and restoring it. Six years later, Navy Pier was reborn, featuring a mix of year-round entertainment, restaurants, exhibition facilities, shops, and attractions. The centerpiece attractions include:

  • the Chicago Children’s Museum
  • the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows
  • the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, performing in the 510-seat Courtyard Theater
  • an IMAX theater
  • an 18-hole miniature golf course
  • the Skyline Stage, a 100-foot-high vaulted roof structure, used as a skating rink during winter and as a 1500-seat theater during summer
  • a 45-foot-high musical carousel with 36 hand-painted animals
  • a 150-foot-tall Ferris wheel, modeled after the first Ferris wheel built for the 1893 World’s Fair

ferris wheelNavy Pier is also the starting point of many boat trips, from four-masted schooners to speed boats to romantic dinner cruises. (My high school senior class held a dinner-dance on one of these cruises.) There is also a large lawn in front of the pier showcasing many public art sculptures and an interactive dancing fountain. It’s also a great place to watch the bi-weekly fireworks show, which is set to music and lasts about 10 minutes. (Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 10:15 p.m.)

So no matter what you’re in the mood for'or even if you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for'you’ll find it at Navy Pier. Be sure to say hi to the statue of comedian Bob Newhart for me.

Photo credit: David Bjorgen (c/o Wikipedia) & joslynan (c/o Flickr)

Navy Pier: 600 E Grand Ave; 312-595-PIER (7437)
Summer (Friday before Memorial Day - Labor Day)
Sun - Thurs: 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Fri - Sat: 10:00 a.m. - 12 midnight
*Tues, July 3: 10:00 a.m. -12 midnight
Fall (Tuesday following Labor Day - October)
Sun - Thurs: 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Fri - Sat: 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Winter (November 1 - March 21)
Mon - Thurs: 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Fri - Sat: 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Sun: 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Spring (April 1 - Thursday before Memorial Day)
Sun - Thurs: 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Fri - Sat: 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Street parking difficult; pay lot and valet available
Public trans: Bus # 2, 29, 65, 66, 124 or free trolley service (between Navy Pier and State Street along Grand Ave and Illinois St)


19 comments to Navy Pier

  1. Mary Jo
    June 25th, 2007 at 10:35 pm

    Despite many trip to Chicago, I’ve never been to Navy Pier. Next month, I’m speaking at conference that will be held there, so I’ll FINALLY get to see itl.

  2. Perfect Popcorn
    July 10th, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    [...] plenty to see inside Navy Pier, but you won’t need your eyes to find this special treat. The scent of delicious popcorn will [...]

  3. W Hotel Chicago Lakeshore
    August 6th, 2007 at 2:38 pm

    [...] There is only one word for this place: swank. This is the lap of luxury on the lakefront. There are two W Hotels in Chicago, but this one is the only hotel along Lake Michigan, making it only steps away from the beaches, the Michigan Avenue stores, and Navy Pier. [...]

  4. fairmont hotel
    August 14th, 2007 at 2:15 am

    [...] is only steps away from shopping along the Magnificent Mile, the Art Institute, the Field Museum, Navy Pier, Millennium Park, the Aon Center, the Blue Cross-Blue Shield Tower, and several other [...]

  5. Weekend Stuff
    September 20th, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    [...] their 100th anniversary, the Italian-American Chamber of Commerce presents Italian Style at Navy Pier, featuring fashion, music, wine, cars, tourism, food, and more. (Sept [...]

  6. Chicago Celebrates Halloween
    October 25th, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    [...] The evils spirits of Halloween are rising from the depths as Navy Pier presents Navy Fear. Enter a 'Salvage and Recovery' facility that houses the remains of angry [...]

  7. b5media - These are a Few of My Favorite Travel & Culture Things
    December 13th, 2007 at 6:18 am

    [...] Matt at The Chicago Traveler, a post about the Navy Pier, a place I got to visit later in the [...]

  8. Don’t Forget the Lyrics!
    December 13th, 2007 at 10:40 pm

    [...] to Walk Like a Magician. But if you’re a human jukebox, maybe you should take a trip down to Navy Pier where FOX’s hit game show Don’t Forget the Lyrics! is holding an open casting call [...]

  9. New Year’s Eve in Chicago, cont.
    December 27th, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    [...] James. Best of all, you'll have a terrace view of the beautiful, bursting fireworks over Navy Pier. (9 p.m. ' 2 a.m., $195+ via tickets.com) (map) [...]

  10. Wheel of Fortune Comes to Chicago
    January 29th, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    [...] will be taped March 7, 8, and 9 at Navy Pier. The scheduled theme weeks include Family Style, College Week, and Going to the [...]

  11. Weekend Quickies
    February 1st, 2008 at 7:00 am

    [...] The 13th annual Strictly Sail Chicago at Navy Pier features the newest sailboat designs and the latest gear, accessories, and hardware. There are also [...]

  12. Fireworks
    February 21st, 2008 at 8:42 am

    [...] have to be at the Taste to enjoy it. In fact, many spectators enjoy the colorful explosions from Navy Pier, and some Chicagoans will even be witnessing the spectacle from the Chicago River on cruise ships [...]

  13. Chicagoan Cocktails
    May 9th, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    [...] 1 part Navy Pier [...]

  14. Holiday Lights
    June 14th, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    [...] Navy Pier at Christmas [...]

  15. Independence Day Fireworks 2008
    July 3rd, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    [...] At Navy Pier, the Fourth of July Fireworks are a ten-minute display accompanied with inspirational music. (9:30 [...]

  16. The Play’s the Thing at Chicago Shakespeare Theater
    July 17th, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    [...] performed on the roof of the Red Lion Pub. In 1999, it moved to its current two-venue facility at Navy Pier, which includes the 500-seat Jentes Family Auditorium (where the audience sits around three sides [...]

  17. Come Full Circle at Navy Pier’s Ferris Wheel
    August 4th, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    [...] I mentioned this attraction in my post on Navy Pier, the Ferris Wheel is so big, it deserves a blog entry of its own. It stands 150 feet tall (46 m) [...]

  18. Candice Kuhnen
    March 21st, 2009 at 7:52 am

    I would like to submit information on the Eco and Wellness Expo at Willow Festival Shopping Center in Northbrook on April 16 from 5-9pm.

    Please let me know I can do that


  19. kpeoples
    March 23rd, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Candice, Just send your information to me at TheChicagoTraveler@gmail.com. Thanks

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