NOTE: Navy Pier is in the midst of a renovation project that will reimagine it into a bolder, more contemporary urban space. During the renovation, portions of Navy Pier and Polk Bros Park (formerly Gateway Park) may be closed to the public. Don't let these renovations discourage you from visiting Navy Pier. You don't want to miss this outstanding destination on the lake!
Navy Pier is the most popular tourist and leisure destination in Illinois. More than eight million visitors from around the world visit Navy Pier each year. Located just east of downtown, the Pier offers 50 acres of parks, shops, restaurants, sightseeing and dining cruise boats (along Dock Street), exhibition facilities and other amenities. Although busiest during the summer, Navy Pier offers year-round fun for visitors of all ages.
Navy Pier, a Chicago landmark, has enjoyed a colorful history. Originally opened in 1916 as a shipping and recreation facility, the Pier housed several regiments of soldiers during World War I, and later served as a Naval training facility during World War II. After the war, the Pier became the original campus for the University of Illinois at Chicago, before evolving into a premier entertainment and meeting center. In summer and during special events throughout the year, Navy Pier operates a free trolley to and from the Magnificent Mile shopping district and the State Street Red Line subway train.
Today, Navy Pier boasts such attractions as the popular Chicago Children’s Museum, the largest IMAX Theater in Illinois, an indoor oasis called the Crystal Gardens, the award-winning Chicago Shakespeare Theater and the beautiful Richard H. Driehaus Gallery of Stained Glass. You’ll also find the gigantic Centennial Ferris Wheel (just opened in May 2016 as part of the Pier's 100th anniversary celebration) along with other amusement rides, a large exhibition and meeting space known as Festival Hall and an outdoor Beer Garden with summer concerts. Approximate distance of walking tour: 0.75 miles each way, 1.5 miles total. (Navy Pier Hours: Sunday - Thursday 10:00am - 8:00pm/10:00pm during summer, Saturday & Sunday 10:00am - 10:00pm/midnight during summer. FREE. Subject to change.)