Hero Image

Navy Pier for First Timers

Each year, nearly nine million guests visit Navy Pier, Chicago’s iconic lakefront destination, and learn all that this destination has to offer (Hint: There’s more than the Centennial Wheel to check out!). Below is a quick guide to Navy Pier so first-time guests can understand the lay of the land and make the most of their visit! 


Navy Pier brings the rich culinary tradition of Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods under one roof. From a quick bite to an upscale night on the town, there is no wrong way to experience the flavors at Navy Pier. The Pier continues to usher in exciting new food & beverage destinations, including Offshore, the world’s largest rooftop venue. 




Rides & Games

Navy Pier is home to one of Chicago’s most iconic attractions, the magnificent Centennial Wheel, offering soaring views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. Be sure to enjoy this one-of-a-kind experience, as well as a wide variety of other rides, games and amusement for all ages. 

Centennial Wheel & Pier Park:Pier Park attractions include the Centennial Wheel, Pepsi Wave Swinger, Carousel, Climbing Walls, Light Tower and remote control boats.

Amazing Chicago: Located in the middle of Navy Pier near the WBEZ studios, Amazing Chicago’s Funhouse Maze is the city’s only self-paced, full sensory maze experience. The maze offers 4,000 square-feet of tunnels, mazes and fun, and has entertained more than 2 million guests! 


Virtual Rush: Chicago: Virtual Rush: Chicago is a groundbreaking 4D VR adventure that offers riders a thrilling virtual voyage over and through a futuristic Chicago city-scape, immersing them in the action



Explore the sights of Chicago with a cruise on Lake Michigan or the Chicago River departing from Navy Pier! From laid-back sightseeing cruises and elegant dining cruises to heart-pumping thrill rides to upscale private charters, Navy Pier cruises offer a memorable experience for all.




Below is a list of all Navy Pier’s cruise partners. Visit their sites to learn more about daily cruises, special events, booking private cruises and more.

Mystic Blue Spirit of Chicago
Odyssey Lake Michigan  Tall Ship Windy 
Seadog  Elite Private Charters 
Shoreline Sightseeing   


Tours of Chicago

Explore Chicago by land, water or air with various city tours departing from Navy Pier, including Chicago Big Bus, Vertiport Helicopter Tours, Architecture River Tours, Bike & Roll Chicago and more. Take your pick of how you want to see Chicago from Navy Pier! 




Cultural Attractions

Navy Pier is home to many of the most beloved Chicago attractions, including the AMC Navy Pier IMAX Theatre, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago Children’s Museum and more. Visit Navy Pier and enjoy hidden gem cultural destinations including the serene Crystal Gardens and festive Polk Bros Park, too! 




Public Art & Exhibitions

As it enters its second century, Navy Pier has become a community-focused cultural district. Our eclectic array of public art and exhibitions reflects both our physical space and our philosophical mission as a steward of iconic, contemporary art installations that attract, excite and inspire guests. Navy Pier offers art that is free and accessible to all. 





The Pier’s diverse directory of on-site shops, stores and kiosks feature Chicago-centric creations of local artisans and companies that offer the highest quality products at excellent value. From apparel to accessories to collectibles and convenience items, the Pier and its retail partners offer amazing shopping opportunities for your first visit and beyond. 




Navy Pier is the destination for spectacular fireworks, perfectly synchronized to music on Lake Michigan. The biweekly Aon Summer Fireworks are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the summer from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Whether you’re viewing them from the dock or aboard a cruise, you are in for an amazing show! 




Events & Programs

From cultural programming and seasonal celebrations to special events and festivals, discover fun and free Chicago events at Navy Pier all-year long, including daily cruises, art exhibitions, theater performances and more. 





Other Visitor Tips & Tricks

Hours & Admission: General operating hours and admission vary depending on the season and may be subject to change. There is no admission fee to enter Navy Pier, although attractions within may have prices. Please note Navy Pier’s Youth Escort Policy, which is in effect after 5 p.m. Friday – Sunday. 

Parking and Transportation: Getting to Navy Pier is convenient, whether you drive as a family or hop on public transportation! Transportation options include driving and parking, traveling on the CTA, riding a bike or renting a Divvy, utilizing Navy Pier’s free trolley service or taking the Shoreline Water Taxi.

Guest Services, Accessibility and Safety: Navy Pier’s Guest Services team are on-site to assist all guests with general inquiries about Navy Pier and other attractions. The Guest Services desk is located at the front of the Pier between Giordano’s and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. The staff can be identified in an aqua blue shirt and blue jeans, so you won’t miss them! 

Guest safety is of the utmost important to Navy Pier to provide an enjoyable visitor experience by providing a safe and orderly environment. Please visit here to learn more about guest safety, policies and procedures. 



Post your favorite memories from your first trip to the Pier with #NPFirstTime and #NavyPier to get featured on our social media channels and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!

Share This Page