A Comprensive Guide to Chicago's Navy Pier

 Cory Giguere / © TripSavvy

Located just east of downtown on Lake Michigan, Navy Pier offers scores of entertainment and dining options, making it one of Chicago's top tourist attractions, along with Grant Park.

Rides at Navy Pier are included with the purchase of a Go Chicago Card. (Buy Direct)


600 East Grand Avenue


800-595-PIER (7437)

Bus to Navy Pier
 player_pleasure/Flickr CC 2.0 

Getting There by Public Transportation

CTA bus lines #29 (State Street), #65 (Grand Avenue) and the #66 (Chicago Avenue) all serve Navy Pier.

Driving From Downtown

Lake Shore Drive north to the Illinois Street exit, right to Navy Pier

Parking at Navy Pier

Navy Pier has an on-site parking garage, accommodating 1,600 cars. Parking is a daily flat rate at $20.

Navy Pier Website

 Cory Giguere / © TripSavvy

About Navy Pier

Originally a shipping and recreational facility, Navy Pier has a rich history and has evolved into one of the most popular spots for people visiting Chicago. Navy Pier is separated into these areas:

Navy Pier
 katie wheeler/Getty Images 

Gateway Park

This 19-acre park enhances the city's lake front, and is a fun entrance to the pier, with its water fountain with computerized jet streams. Many of the city's top boat tours begin and end here.

Family Pavilion

One of the main areas of Navy Pier, the Family Pavilion is home to the 50,000-square-foot Chicago Children's Museum, an IMAX Theater, the Crystal Gardens indoor botanical park and numerous restaurants and shops.

South Arcade

The South Arcade holds more shops and restaurants as well as Amazing Chicago's Funhouse Maze, the 3-D ride Transporter FX, and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater which, as the name implies, is a permanent home for Shakespeare in Chicago.

Navy Pier Park

This popular spot in warmer months features the famous 150-foot-high Ferris wheel, a merry-go-round, a high-flying swing ride and a miniature golf course. The Skyline Stage is also in Navy Pier Park, featuring top music performances from May to September.

Festival Hall Chicago
 Choose Chicago 

Festival Hall

Festival Hall is the area of Navy Pier dedicated to trade shows and exhibitions. Festival Hall has over 170,000 square feet of exhibit space, 36 meeting rooms, up to 60-foot ceilings, and a full range of telecommunications and electrical needs. Festival Hall is also home to the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows, a display of 150 beautiful and historic stained glass.

Rides at Navy Pier are included with the purchase of a Go Chicago Card. (Buy Direct)

Buckingham Fountain is a free attraction in Chicago
Raymond Boyd / Contributor / Getty Images

Additional Popular Outdoor Attractions

Buckingham Fountain. Made out of gorgeous pink Georgia marble, the real attraction of the fountain is the water, light, and music show that takes place every hour. Controlled by a computer in its underground pump room, it's a dazzling display that makes for a fantastic photo opportunity and a picture perfect background, which is why you'll likely see a wedding party having portraits taken there during milder weather.

Island Party Boat. All the party boats are BYOB (bring your own bikini) and BYOD (bring your own dog), and encourage you to really let your hair down. Throughout high boating season, the party cruises occur from May through September. They include the three-hour Aloha cruise with an authentic Hawaiian cuisine on Fridays; three-hour margarita cruise on Thursdays; and two-hour fireworks cruise every Wednesday.

Noble Horse Carriages Chicago. Spend any amount of time wandering around the North Michigan Avenue shopping district and you're bound to seem them: vintage carriages being pulled by noble steeds ambling along next to the bustling traffic. These are the Noble Horse Carriages, part of what makes this area of the city unique. While many utilize the carriages for special occasions such as weddings or proms, it's also a nice break to be able to relax and enjoy the sights and give those feet a rest.

Oak Street Beach. Whether it's rollerblading, volleyball, relaxing and soaking in some rays or wanting to check out tiny swimwear, Oak Street Beach is steps away from the Magnificent Mile and a people-watching extravaganza right in the middle of a bustling Chicago. As one of the city's most accessible beaches, it's in walking distance to the likes of Drake Hotel Chicago, Intercontinental Chicago Hotel, Park Hyatt Chicago and Ritz-Carlton Chicago.

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