There is such a diverse and eclectic variety of things to do at Navy Pier, it’s no surprise this is a place that has inspired discovery and wonder for over a century. The People’s Pier offers activities and experiences that ignite the imagination, stimulate the senses and allow your spirit to soar.
From recreation to relaxation, entertainment to education, the things to do at Navy Pier celebrate our storied first century, while introducing guests to an extraordinary second one.
When, for example, you take a spin on our new Centennial Wheel, you pay homage to the city that unveiled the first Ferris wheel in 1893 at the World’s Columbian Exposition (Chicago World’s Fair). When you watch a performance at the Tony Award®-winning Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) , you participate in a cultural tradition dating back hundreds of years. And when you attend a dinner, dance or gathering under the splendor of the 1916 Aon Grand Ballroom domed ceiling, you visit a landmark that served many roles during two World Wars.
But these activities just scratch the surface of things to do at Navy Pier.
As Chicago’s mission-driven cultural district, we offer arts, educational and cultural programming year-round. We are not only the home for a world-renowned theater company, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, but we also created Pier stages and our Polk Bros Park Performance Lawns to showcase innovative Chicago singers, dancers and other artists. Many performances are free and accessible to all. Learn more about our free public programs.
In the summer, our Miller Lite Beer Garden is also free and open to all ages. This dynamic venue offers food, drinks, amazing views of the city and some of Chicago’s most talented musicians.
Navy Pier is home to the beloved Chicago Children’s Museum. It offers families with infants and children a place to create and explore through exhibits and activities that teach literacy, science, math, health and the performing and visual arts.
Children also can play in our interactive, green, front yard, which we call, Polk Bros Park. In the summer, the park’s signature fountain is the place to find kids frolicking through its 150 programmable jets that mimic the natural movements of waves.
In addition to our iconic wheel, Pier Park offers other rides and attractions for guests of all ages, including climbing walls, a vintage Carousel and a swing that will gives you the sensation of flying.
If it’s BIG entertainment you want, look no further than our new and improved AMC® NAVY PIER IMAX® THEATRE. This state-of-the-art theater features the largest movie screen in Illinois, with unmatched clarity and sound quality. You cannot get this movie experience anywhere else in Chicago!
Looking to take the family or a special guest on a water adventure? Navy Pier partners offer various boat rides at a price to fit any budget. Shoreline Sightseeing, Tall Ship Windy and Entertainment Cruises’ Spirit of Chicago, Mystic Blue, Odyssey and Seadog are your guides for family-friendly Chicago River architectural cruises, Lake Michigan boat tours, nostalgic tall ship sails and even elegant lunch/brunch/dinner excursions. There’s nothing like seeing Chicago’s magnificent skyline by boat!
Of course, topping our list of things to do at Navy Pier, especially during the summer, is our Aon Fireworks Shows. Each year, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, as well as Halloween, New Year’s Eve and other special occasions, our award-winning fireworks shows thrill millions of people. It’s an attraction you won’t want to miss!
From apparel and accessories to souvenirs, collectibles and gifts, Navy Pier has something to entice every shopper. Our dozens of Pier partners offer plenty of items.
Hungry? We have a wide choice of foods, snacks and beverages. Whether its deep-dish pizza, a Chicago hot dog or a burger chain immortalized on “NBC’s Saturday Night Live,” you’ll find it here. In addition to nearly a dozen table-service restaurants, our Chicago Food Experience (located on level one, underneath Pier Park) offers counter-service food that showcases some of our city’s finest cuisine.
Navy Pier’s mission is to be a free, accessible public space that offers cultural programs, activities, theater, recreational experiences, and cuisine befitting our world-class city. We invite you to explore and sample all the things to do at Navy Pier. Have a great visit!