Your Guide for a Day at the Navy Pier

Ride the Ferris wheel, grab a bite to eat, do a little shopping or simply enjoy the cool lake breeze at this famed Chicago attraction

Spanning 50 acres and stretching 3,000 feet into the waters of Lake Michigan, Navy Pier is one big playground. There's always something to do, and that's probably why it's the most visited attraction in Chicago, drawing nearly 9 million visitors each year!

Navy Pier Parking

Let's get the not-so-fun part out of the way first—where to put your car while you're out having fun on the pier. Luckily, Navy Pier provides two on-site parking garages, West Garage and East Garage, which accommodate a total of 1,500 vehicles. Some individual businesses located on the pier, including Harry Caray’s Tavern and RIVA Crab House, offer valet parking. Two additional parking garages near the pier offer parking at a lower rate when you validate at Navy Pier: Grand Plaza Park and Ogden Plaza Self Park.

Exploring Navy Pier

Navy pier is enormous, but it's easily walkable and it's a ton of fun to explore. The entrance to the park on Grand Avenue just east of Polk Bros Park leads you through the historic facade of the Family Pavilion. There you'll find a wide assortment of shops, restaurants and kiosks. Venturing farther out on the pier reveals an IMAX movie theater, indoor tropical atrium, outdoor amusement park, performance venues, museums, cruise ships and even a radio station.

While Navy Pier is open year-round, general operating hours vary with the seasons. Some attractions on the pier require an admission fee, but the pier itself is open to the public free of charge. Restrooms and information kiosks are located throughout, or you can always plan your visit beforehand.

Things to do at Navy Pier

You'll find endless ways to keep busy on Navy Pier. Whether you're visiting with your family or reconnecting with old friends, here are a few ways to get started:

  • Spend some time at Pier Park playing miniature golf, racing remote-controlled boats and riding the nearly 200-foot Ferris wheel.
  • Explore dozens of interactive exhibits, including Dinosaur Expedition and Inventing Lab, at the Chicago Children's Museum.
  • See the latest blockbuster at the Navy Pier IMAX Theater, Chicago's largest IMAX screen.
  • Attend an award-winning performance of The Bard's greatest works at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
  • Eat some seafood at Bubba Gump Shrimp, grab a slice at Giordano's Pizza, or sip a cold one outside in the Miller Lite Beer Garden.
  • Watch the ships come and go, or go with them courtesy of Seadog Cruises or Shoreline Water Taxi.

Navy Pier Events

Depending on what time of year you visit Navy Pier, chances are you have the opportunity to take part in some of the city's most enjoyable special events. Some events, including theater performances and live concerts, change with the seasons. Others, like Snow Days Chicago and the Tall Ships Chicago festival, can be counted on to return year after year. Winter WonderFest is an annual favorite, transforming part of the pier into a 170,000 square-foot winter playground, with an ice skating rink, holiday activities and carnival rides.

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