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May. 28, 2021

Navy Pier for First Timers

Please be aware that the content on this webpage was authored more than 6 months ago, so some information may be outdated or no longer accurate. Please visit our event calendar for information on current events.

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 under one roof. From a quick bite to an upscale night out, there is no wrong way to experience the flavors and restaurants here. We continue to usher in new food & beverage destinations, including Offshore, the world’s largest rooftop venue, along with old favorites.

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Rides & Games

Navy Pier is home to one of Chicago’s most iconic attractions, the Centennial Wheel. Enjoy this one-of-a-kind experience & a variety of other rides & games.

Centennial Wheel & Pier Park: Includes the Centennial Wheel, Pepsi Wave Swinger, Carousel & more.

Amazing Chicago’s FunHouse Maze: Is the city’s only self-paced, full sensory maze — it’s entertained more than 2 million guests!

Virtual Rush: Chicago: Is a groundbreaking 4D VR adventure that offers riders a thrilling voyage through a futuristic Chicago city-scape.

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Explore the sights of Chicago with a cruise on Lake Michigan or the Chicago River departing from Navy Pier! You can choose from a relaxing sightseeing cruise, elegant dining cruise, heart-pumping thrill ride, upscale private charters and more! Below is a list of Navy Pier’s cruise partners. Before you head to the Pier, visit their sites to learn about daily cruises, special events, booking instructions and more.

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Tours of Chicago

Explore Chicago by land or water with various city tours. Take your pick of how you want to see the city from Navy Pier! Options include Architecture River ToursBike & Roll Chicago and more.

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Cultural Attractions

Navy Pier is home to many of the most beloved Chicago attractions, including the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Chicago Children’s Museum. For your first visit, you won’t want to miss hidden gems like the festive Polk Bros Park, too!

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Public Art & Exhibitions

The Pier has evolved into a community-focused cultural district. With an eclectic mix of public art and exhibitions, you will be able to enjoy free and accessible art during your visits.

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The Pier’s directory of on-site shops, stores and kiosks feature Chicago-centric creations from local artisans and companies. Be sure to browse their selection of high-quality products at a great value. From apparel and accessories to collectibles and convenience items, the Pier and its retail partners offer great shopping opportunities for your first visit and beyond.

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Navy Pier is the ultimate destination for spectacular fireworks, perfectly synchronized to music on Lake Michigan. Fireworks are held throughout the summer season. Whether you are viewing them from the dock or aboard a cruise, you are in for an amazing show!

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Events & Programs

Discover fun and free events at Navy Pier! From cultural programming and seasonal celebrations to special events and festivals, Navy Pier’s programs will keep you entertained and inspired on your visit.

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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 you with general inquiries about Navy Pier and other attractions. The Guest Services desk is located at the front of the Pier. 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.


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