600 E. GRAND AVENUE CHICAGO, IL 60611
touristy peninsula in central Chicago
It’s possible that you’ve heard Navy Pier cited as a ‘tourist trap’ – trust me, I lived in Chicago for 5 years several years ago and I rarely visited for that reason. However, I recently visited Chicago as a tourist after moving away 7 years ago. I was with my 5 year old daughter and we spent a good chunk of our Saturday at Navy Pier and it was fantastic! If you get a nice day (we were there for a weekend in August), the beautiful scenery really can’t be beat. Here’s what we did:
Walking (free!): Navy Pier juts out into Lake Michigan almost in the middle of Chicago, and if you make the walk out (3,300-foot-long pier), you can look back and see wonderful views of the city horizon.
Ice cream: There are several great (touristy) places to stop and get a bite to eat, but we chose one of the ice cream carts amidst all the action.
Children’s Museum: The museum is at the front of Navy Pier and has a lot of great exhibits – fire station, fossil digging, water tables were some of our favorites – and they are currently renovating to build an enhanced climbing interaction. https://www.chicagochildrensmuseum.org
Splash pad / fountain: Just in front of the Children’s Museum, there is a fantastic fountain. The ‘pad’ is actually concrete which is different than other splash pads I have seen, but it didn’t stop my daughter from drenching herself for a while. https://navypier.org/attractions/polk-bros-park/
Ferris wheel: We splurged and went on the Ferris wheel in the center of the Pier. The views were worth the extra money and the ride lasted about 15 minutes. https://navypier.org/attractions/ferris-wheel/
Other activities of note: Merry-go-round and Swing-go-round located just in front of the Ferris wheel (both require tickets). We noticed a Kids’ Maze (we didn’t try it). “Wizard of Oz” (kid friendly version) was playing at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. https://navypier.org/explore/cultural-attractions/chicago-shakespeare-theater/