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Navy Pier

A family-friendly entertainment option in downtown Chicago

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Navy Pier is a must-see attraction in downtown Chicago!

  • Mar 9, 2009
  • by
Visiting Chicago and not going to Navy Pier is akin to visiting Disney World and blowing off Space Mountain. It's that simple – it's part of the fabric that makes up the Chicago skyline, with its  150-foot-high ferris wheel dominating the landscape.
There's something for everyone at the Pier – scenic boat rides, pedal cars, Segway tours, mini-golf, ice skating and even a little Shakespeare. Living as close as we do, we've hit the Pier a number of times, and aside from the Ferris Wheel have really yet to repeat the same activity twice. What would I recommend?

Chicago Children's Museum:
For about $10 per person (there are occasional free Mondays), you and the family can crawl up and down and all around a multiple-story rope ladder extravaganza, soak yourself and everyone else in one of the largest waterworks areas I've seen in a museum, enjoy special exhibits and spend loads of cash at the gift shop. You'll find the museum indoors, along with...

The Mall:
Sit-down restaurants, a first-run IMAX theater, and the seemingly miles long esplanades full of food courts (yep, there's a McDonalds - try the Connie's Pizza instead) and stores. Watch out for the Build-A-Bear boxes – your daughter sees one and chances are you'll be sucked into watching her build...a bear. (Here's my thing - if I have to go, I'm annoying as possible to my child in hopes she'll want to just bag it. Try insisting that her stuffed monkey get the lion voice box. Good times, good times...)

Pier Park:
Here's where the kids go crazy – what to do? What to do? There's the ferris wheel of course, which I highly recommend. It's really just a great way to catch the skyline. There's also a carousel, mini-golf, remote control boats, a giant swing, a funhouse, and more. And it all costs money! Whee! I've done it both ways, and my vote is to get a family combo pack (a 10-ride family combo is $30, but there are less expensive options) – it can be a money saver, and has an exit strategy in place for you. Punches on your card are full? Great! It's time to go!

Chicago Shakespeare Theatre:
If you're sans children, why not enjoy a dinner, then a stroll, then a night of Shakespeare? The theatre is a regional Tony Award winner and produces top-notch entertainment.

My only beef? The place really is a money sieve...and parking stinks – to put it nicely. It's either a $19 or $23 flat rate fee for the day. No biggie if that's your only stop - but if you're in for a visit and staying downtown, ask your concierge about alternative modes of transportation.

And while you're that close, if you want to hit a great place for fun pics, walk over to the Ohio Street Beach. It's not that often you'll find yourself lolling about on cool sand amongst skyscrapers!
Giant Swing, Navy Pier Giant Swing, Navy Pier

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March 09, 2009
I would agree with you, avantchicago - there are thousands of better entertainment options for adults. I often have friends come to town w/kids in tow, so this is a no-brainer on a beautiful summer day. (If it's raining? We're at MSI.)
March 09, 2009
Not a bad place if you're entertaining children, but for adults there are a 100 better options in Chicago over Navy Pier. (Ohio Street Beach being one of them) And yes the prices are steep.
More Navy Pier reviews
Quick Tip by . December 16, 2011
posted in Windy City Secrets
It's a nice place to hang out, but there's not a whole lot about it that special. There's a nice stained glass museum which is very unique and a good giant-screen theater, but otherwise this place is many of the worst aspects of corporate America. I'm amazed McDonald's hasn't bought the naming rights to it.
About the reviewer
Kelly Konrad ()
I'm a freelance writer, mom to three and wife - and the order of importance changes depending on my mood, the weather or if there's a nut on a reality TV show that I'm just dying to talk about. ("Sorry, … more
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