You can't truly experience Chicago without a trip to Navy Pier. This 50-acre playground of entertainment, museums, activities, restaurants, and shops is the perfect place for some family fun time.
First on the list is a trip to Pier Park for a ride on the 150-foot Ferris wheel, which offers great city and Lake Michigan views and is open year-round. Also check out the whimsical musical carousel, Wave Swinger lift-and-twirl ride, miniature golf course, remote control boats, and more.
Next, grab the kids and go explore educational wonders at the Chicago Children's Museum. Discover dozens of lively interactive exhibits such as BIG Backyard, Dinosaur Expedition, Inventing Lab, and the Kovler Family Climbing Schooner. Then get lost in Amazing Chicago's Funhouse Maze where you'll be entertained by the Mirror Maze, Spinning Tunnel, and more.
See a blockbuster on Chicago's largest movie screen at the IMAX Theater. Or take a dynamic high-speed motion thrill ride to Antarctica, the moon and more on the Transporter FX.
And during the warmer months, it's prime time for the Pier's boating season. Get off the shores and board one of the many sightseeing and dining boat cruises. Take your pick of vessel, all lined up along the waterfront, from Seadog and Shoreline to The Odyssey. The views of Navy Pier and the Chicago skyline can't be beat.
Not limited to a specific season, entertainment at Chicago Shakespeare Theater delights year-round. Catch cutting edge performances and classics at this highly-regarded cultural institution, where their tradition of excellence has been recognized with the Regional Theater Tony Award, three Laurence Olivier Awards, and 70 total Joseph Jefferson Awards.
The year-round calendar of special events will surely keep you busy.
During the summer months, take a boat, bike, and even a Segway tour, all of which launch from Navy Pier, and many other places throughout the city for that matter. Hear the city's hottest bands at the free admission Landshark Beer Garden from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and be dazzled by free fireworks displays on every Wednesday and Saturday night during the summer season. Holiday fireworks are particularly festive, with Fourth of July and New Year's Eve shows lighting up the skies to the tune of patriotic music. A favorite among those who love history and all things nautical, the summer festival Tall Ships Chicago brings the majestic fleet of historic international vessels to our shore.
The fall is also packed with Pier activities, including Oktoberfest celebrations, Halloween activities, and fireworks. Plus, the combined SOFA and Intuit Show of Folk & Outsider Art fairs will give you a reason to buy an extra suitcase. So will the Chicago Toy & Game Fair where you can discover the newest toys in all the land.
Every winter, Navy Pier becomes a winter wonderland during Winter WonderFest with 170,000 square feet of indoor fun that includes rides and ice skating for kids of all ages. Bundle up and head outdoors during Snow Days Chicago, a celebration of the season that fills Gateway Park with incredible ice sculptures, and offers up all sorts of activities from snowboarding and snowshoeing.
Spring is synonymous with flowers in Chicago and the Chicago Flower and Garden Show has your ticket to wash the winter blahs away.
Of course, after all these adventures, you're going to be hungry. Grab a bite at Bubba Gump's Shrimp Co., Harry Caray's Tavern, Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, or one of the many other fun and filling quick serve eateries.
For a more refined atmosphere — and incredible views — relax at Riva Crabhouse while dining on fresh seafood selections.
The newest addition to Navy Pier's culinary landscape is City Porch, a contemporary "pop up" restaurant with a palette-pleasing spread that ranges from Bourbon Buffalo Wings and Pulled Pork Sandwiches to a Farmer's Market Flatbread and Crab & Lobster Wedge Salad.
And for dessert, take your pick of sugary sweet treats that tempt you as you walk — from churros and ice cream to the local favorite, Garrett Popcorn Shops.