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Our Favorite Spots to Watch the World Go By

Some days you just want to sit down, relax and watch the world go by. Navy Pier, from its green spaces and outdoor attractions to restaurants and boats, offers many ways to kick back and take in the views. Head to the Pier with a group or friends or just for some solo self-care time! We encourage you to enjoy the beauty and peace of Chicago and Lake Michigan from some of these spots. Try one and find your favorite or try them all.

A young girl playing in the fountain at Polk

Polk Bros Park

The Pier’s green front yard has many spots to sit and watch the world go by. Grab a seat near the dramatic signature fountain for fun views of programmable jets and children playing. Or if you are a nature lover, head to one of the Polk Bros Performance Lawns, which have fantastic backdrops of the lake and Chicago skyline.

Two children and their grandmother take a break on the steps beneath the Centennial Wheel

Wave Wall Stairs

For a view of guests, joggers and walkers on the South Dock, as well as sights of Lake Michigan, perch on the Wave Wall stairs. These wavy, fun steps are great to sit on with an ice cream cone or treat from one of the Pier’s on-site establishments, such as FRÍO Gelato or Kilwins.

Visitors point out the view from the Centennial Wheel

Centennial Wheel

For a birds-eye view of the city, skyline, Lake Shore Drive and Navy Pier guests, hop on the iconic, 200-foot tall Centennial Wheel. This unforgettable experience is a must on your Pier visit and is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and enjoy a smooth ride in the sky. In the climate-controlled gondolas, you’ll be away from the elements for the duration of the ride.

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East End Plaza

If you walk along the South or North dock to the easternmost tip of the Pier, you will discover the East End Plaza. This open outdoor area has 360 degree views of Lake Michigan and is a less populated area on the Pier. For a secluded and peaceful spot to take in the world, you will definitely want to check out the East End Plaza.

A couple enjoy cocktails and a quick bite at Offshore

Offshore Rooftop & Bar

One of the newest dining destinations at Navy Pier is Offshore Rooftop & Bar, which is also the world’s largest rooftop bar confirmed by Guinness World Records. Offshore features panoramic, unmatched views of Lake Michigan and the city skyline, providing a unique perspective not found elsewhere. Grab a delicious cocktail, find a table and enjoy the views!

Four friends toasting over food at Navy Pier

Food Experience Corridor

For guests that enjoy an indoor setting, try one of the many spots to sit at in the Pier’s Food Experience Corridor. You will have a multitude of delicious dining options at your fingertips, too! Who doesn’t love snacking and watching guests and families walk by?

A Shoreline Sightseeing architecture river cruise enters downtown Chicago

Shoreline Sightseeing

Enjoy the sights of Chicago with a cruise on Lake Michigan. To watch the world go by and learn about Chicago’s architecture, try a cruise on Shoreline Sightseeing from Navy Pier. The knowledgeable guides provide historical highlights of the city’s landmark buildings on all three branches of the Chicago River. Each Architecture Tour ticket includes a free one-way water taxi ticket, too! For more ideas on how to cruise at Navy Pier, view the full list here.

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About Navy Pier

Navy Pier is the People’s Pier, Chicago’s lakefront treasure, welcoming all and offering dynamic and eclectic experiences through partnerships and programs that inspire discovery and wonder.

Since its reopening in 1995, more than 180 million guests have come to enjoy the Pier's 50 acres of unparalleled attractions and experiences. In 2022, Navy Pier continues to evolve into an accessible, year-round centerpiece for Chicago’s diverse arts and cultural treasures.

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