When I was a kid growing up in Chicago Navy Pier was a dilapidated Navy Base on Lake Michigan. When it was built in 1916 it was the largest pier in the world, this is probably when our Chicago desire to have the biggest, tallest edifices started. Today, Navy Pier is a year round child and adult play ground, drawing 900 million visitors to the number one attraction in Chicago. Here’s my top ten list of what to do on Navy Pier.
10. Smith Museum of Stained-Glass Windows. 150 pieces of fine stained-glass line the interior corridors of the pier, including 13 pieces from Louis Comfort Tiffany. It it the first stained-glass museum in the US.
9. Wave Swinger. Colorful old-fashioned thrill ride that raises passenger 14ft in the air and spins them until the skyline is a blur.8. Musical Carousel. 36 hand-painted horses and chariots fill this merry-go-round with laughter and excitement for all ages.
7. Chicago’s Shakespeare Theatre. This highly renowned theatre has a series of Shakespeare’s plays every season. I saw King Lear here and it physically rained on stage when King Lear’s madness took hime to the forest, it was one of the most captivating performances I’ve ever seen. The 510 courtyard style theatre in the round would make the bard proud with its annual summer kid’s adaptations.6. Boat Cruise: Boats from tall schooners to high powered motored boats line the docks along the pier. You can enjoy dinner, dancing and cocktails on the Odyssey or in the summer you can sail out onto the lake in a four-masted schooner and come away with another perspective of the city.
5. Children’s Museum. Kid’s love this hands on museum that educates through interactive play.4. Dinner at Riva’s. Riva’s is a steak and seafood restaurant on Navy Pier that offers breathtaking views of the skyline and lakefront and was recently named one of the top scenic views restaurants in the U.S by OpenTable Diners. Bon Appetite, but save your pennies, it’s pricey.
3. Fireworks at Navy Pier. Every Wednesday evening at 9:30 p.m. and Saturday at 10:15 p.m. there is a spectacular fireworks display that is synchronized with music at the pier overlooking Lake Michigan.2. Riding the Ferris Wheel: The ten story Ferris wheel offers a fine view of both the city skyline and the lake. The 7 minute ride in the gondola cars is the Piers most visible attraction. The 40 gondola’s hold six passengers each and the Ferris Wheel is a replica of the original Ferris Wheel designed for the 1893 Chicago’s World Colombia’s Exposition.
1.Riding the Ferris Wheel during the fireworks display. In order to make this happen, you would have to time you’re getting in a gondola precisely and there is usually a long line for the Ferris Wheel. So get in line early. Also, the 7 minute ride time is if you rode a complete circuit without stopping, keep in mind that the conductor stops and starts to let riders off which makes the ride considerably longer, especially on a busy evening. The photo above is the view from the Ferris Wheel looking back at the skyline.
I've been off for a few weeks traveling. But thanks for visiting my Wednesday Walking Tour. I hope you'll come visit me in Chicago soon. Let me know when you're coming and I'll roll out the red carpet.