Summer in Chicago – Navy Pier

When people visit Chicago, they always want to go to Navy Pier.  The translation for Navy Pier in Chicagoanese is Tourist Trap.  But it can be fun even for locals.  Let’s start with the history.

Navy Pier was constructed in 1914 for the cost of $4.5 million dollars.  When it opened, it was the largest pier in the world.  During World War I, it housed the Red Cross, Home Defense units and a number of Army and Navy personnel.  It even had a jail for draft dodgers.  It was officially named Navy Pier in honor of the Navy personnel that served during World War I.

During World War II, Navy Pier was closed to the public and was converted to a full Navy training center.  It was returned to the City of Chicago in 1946.

Today, Navy Pier is home to a variety of restaurants and other forms of entertainment.  The IMAX is the big draw for me.  It is a fantastic theater for epic movies such as The Dark Knight, Avatar, and the Harry Potter movies.  A perk is that is has assigned seating so if you are going with a large group, there is no fight to find seats together.

If you like Ferris Wheels, you should ride the Navy Pier one.  It is something that I have not done, but I would like to do someday.  I love heights but many of my friends do not.  But I will eventually cross that off my “things to do in Chicago” list.

Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier, Chicago


One very cool Chicago activity is the Tall Ships show.  You can walk along the river and Navy Pier and see beautiful, historic ships from around the world.  They will be in Chicago this year August 15-20.  Make sure to check this out, because it doesn’t happen every year and is completely worth your time.


One exhibit of Navy Pier that I enjoy is the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows.  Many of these windows were saved from old Chicago mansions.  It was the first museum dedicated soley to stained glass and opened at Navy Pier in February 2000.


If you have children, the Chicago Children’s Museum is located at Navy Pier.  I have never been here, but I imagine I will someday when we have kids.  I know my niece and nephew have enjoyed going to this museum with their parents.  The museum originally opened as a response from the Junior League in response to program cuts in the Chicago Public Schools.  The Chicago Children’s Museum has been housed in many locations throughout the city but has been at Navy Pier since 1995.  Whenever I go to Navy Pier during the week, it is crowded with field trips and the kids always seems to enjoy the Chicago Children’s Museum.

Chicago Children’s Museum


Personally, I enjoy just walking around Navy Pier with an ice cream cone during the summer and looking at the boats.  The IMAX is always a fun time.  But keep in mind that buying anything at Navy Pier is expensive because it is a tourist trap.  Let me know about your experience at Navy Pier this summer!

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