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Navy Pier

Historic Navy Pier is Chicago’s lakefront Playground. Ž

And it's the Midwest's #1 tourist and leisure destination, attracting more than 8.6 million visitors a year. Navy Pier is the place where all of Chicagoland and tourists from around the world have come together since 1995 to enjoy the beauty and the thrills of a day on Lake Michigan. From rides to restaurants, exhibitions to entertainment, shopping to dining, cruises and tour boats, Navy Pier has it all - in a location unlike any other!


For more information and event listings call (800) 595-PIER Or, visit the Navy Pier website at

CHICAGO’S NAVY PIER . . . CHICAGO’S LAKEFRONT PLAYGROUND Just east of downtown Chicago, extending nearly a mile into Lake Michigan, is Navy Pier - the Midwest’s #1 tourist and leisure destination, attracting more than 8.6 million visitors a year. It is the place where all of Chicagoland and tourists from around the world come to experience the beauty and excitement that Chicago has to offer.


Navy Pier was built in 1916 to serve as a freight terminal and public recreation facility. The Pier originally consisted of the Head House, located at the front entrance to the Pier, and two double-decked freight and passenger buildings stretching more than 2,000 feet in length. The Pier’s recreational facilities, located at the east end of the Pier, included the Grand Ballroom, Terminal Building and Shelter Building, complete with observation towers and rooftop garden.

• During World War I and again in World War II, the Pier served as a military training site. Following World War II, it became the home for the University of Illinois’ Chicago campus until a new campus was built in the early 1960’s. As shipping declined, the Pier fell into disuse in the 1970’s and 1980’s. So, in 1989, a plan was devised whereby the City transferred ownership of the Pier to the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, the same body that oversees Chicago’s McCormick Place. The State, in turn, provided an initial $150 million in “Build Illinois” funds to help redevelop the Pier into today’s unique convention and urban entertainment facility.

Something for everyone Today’s Navy Pier consists of 50 acres of parks and promenades, gardens, shops, eateries and attractions. Visitors not only experience breathtaking views of the skyline, they can ride on the 150-foot-high Ferris wheel, spin on an oldfashioned musical carousel, ride the Wave Swinger, or catch a 3D movie at the Navy Pier IMAX Theater, featuring a six-story-high, 80-foot-wide screen. The Crystal Gardens, a one-acre, glass-enclosed palm court with “leap frog” fountains, is a favorite year-round respite and is a unique venue for special events. The Pier’s spectacular Skyline Stage outdoor pavilion is the city’s premier lakefront performance venue, showcasing entertainment ranging from dance, comedy, rock and jazz performances. In recent years, the Skyline Stage has been host to the full-scale theatrical production, Cirque Shanghai, a world premier extraordinarily talented performance by Chinese acrobatics direct from China.

From the north, take Lake Shore Drive (US 41) to the Grand Avenue exit.

From the northwest, take the Kennedy Expressway (I90/94) to the Ohio Street Exit, south on Orleans to Illinois Street and proceed east.

From the west, take the Eisenhower Expressway (I290) to Columbus Drive, north to Illinois Street and proceed east.

From the southwest, take the Stevenson Expressway (I55) to Lake Shore Drive (US 41), north to Illinois Street and proceed east.

From the south, take the Dan Ryan Expressway (I90/94) east to the Stevenson Expressway (I-55) to Lake Shore Drive (US 41), north to Illinois Street and proceed east.

From the southeast, take Lake Shore Drive (US 41) north to the Illinois Street exit.


Standard Parking operates on-site parking garages at Navy Pier, accommodating 1,600 cars. Parking rates vary on season.

For more information and event listings call (800) 595-PIER Or, visit the Navy Pier website at

Cont’d... Families with children won’t want to miss the Chicago Children’s Museum. This interactive and educational oasis is the fifth most visited cultural institution in Chicago and one of the most popular children’s museums in the country. Currently, the museum is host to numerous permanent exhibits, as well as fun and interactive kids & family programs. Chicago Shakespeare Theater opened at Navy Pier in early 2000, making the Theater among the finest venues in the world in which to experience Shakespeare performed live on stage. The new theater complex brings to fruition the original conceptual plan for a performing arts theater at Navy Pier. It also marks a milestone in Shakespeare Repertory’s vision to create a permanent home for the performance of Shakespeare in the heart of Chicago. The Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows is the first museum in the United States dedicated solely to the spectacular beauty of stained glass windows. Permanently displayed in an 800-foot-long series of galleries along the lower level terraces of Navy Pier’s Festival Hall, the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows showcases both religious and secular windows and is divided by artistic theme into four categories: Victorian, Prairie, Modern, Tiffany and Contemporary. All of the windows were designed by prominent local, national and European studios, 80% of which were originally installed in residential, commercial and religious buildings in the Chicago area from 1870 to the present. Admission to the Museum is free, and the Museum is available for viewing during Pieroperating hours.


Navy Pier, then called Municipal Pier, completed construction in 1916. It opened to the public and was the only pier to combine the business of shipping with the pleasure of public entertainment.

In 1942 Navy Pier was the home of pilot training orientation commences and eventually 15,000 pilots are qualified, including a young airman named George H.W. Bush. As many as 200 WWII planes still rest at the bottom of Lake Michigan as a result of accidents during training.

In 1946 the Navy moves out of Navy Pier and the University of Illinois takes up residence, transforming the facility into a two-year undergraduate branch campus. The Navy's main mess hall becomes a giant library considered "the largest reading room" in Illinois. In 1965 the University moved from Navy Pier to its new Circle Campus, just west of downtown.

Navy Pier is the home of the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows, which is the first museum in the United States dedicated solely to stained glass windows.

Navy Pier is the host to Chicago’s most magical holiday event, the Bank of America Winter “WonderFest, a month long event which includes in-door ice skating, cookie decorating, inflatable slides, an in-door Ferris wheel, thousands or decorated tress, free entertainment and so much more.”

Navy Pier hosts FREE fireworks every summer (Memorial Day – Labor Day)! Every Wednesday & Saturday nights, come enjoy fireworks with breathtaking view of the Chicago skyline as your backdrop!

Dining at the Pier Navy Pier offers dining opportunities as diverse as Chicago itself. Open year-round, five restaurants and an extensive food court provide culinary delights to please every palate. Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. & Market is themed on the movie Forrest Gump and serves quality seafood in a casual family atmosphere. Delicious Italian Cuisine is served at Capi’s Italian Kitchen. Traditional tavern food is plentiful at Charlie’s Ale House. For fine dining, RIVA is a favorite, with fresh seafood, steaks and pasta, plus incredible views of the Chicago skyline.

For more information and event listings call (800) 595-PIER Or, visit the Navy Pier website at

Summer at the Pier Navy Pier peaks during the summer months with a variety of exciting, all-day entertainment. The forecast for the Pier always calls for fun. One of the best ways to capture the beauty of Chicago is by boat. Dock Street at Navy Pier is where you can set sail in a variety of water vessels that provide architectural, sail boat and speed boat tours. The Bud Light Stage in the Navy Pier Beer Garden features outdoor live performances by top local bands. Spectacular free fireworks also top off every Wednesday and Saturday night, drawing thousands to the lakefront attraction. Chicago’s best dinner cruises operate from Navy Pier with an offering of brunch, lunch, dinner and fireworks cruises. Lakefront and river sightseeing cruises are all part of Navy Pier’s lakefront charm.

On all of Collette’s tours, all of the hotels and accommodations; ground transportation —be it motorcoach, ferry or elephant; many meals and unique experiences; Visitors will find everything from bikes to books and souvenirs to sunglasses in the retail shops dining located in Navy admissions to museums Pier’s Family Pavilion. And, in the warmer months, dozens of colorful vendor carts are located in the open airand atattractions; and knowledgemosphere of the South Arcade and along Dock Street. able local guides are all included. There’s no need to But, the fun doesn’t stop there . . . a full schedule of entertainment and events keep the Pier energized yearworry about language or cusround. These include Sculpture, Objects and Functional Art (SOFA); an entire month of Halloween festivities tom barriers. A seasoned complete with a haunted adventure; The Bank of America® Winter WonderFest® and various public exhibitions, professional tour manager trade shows, health fairs and Chicago marathons. accompanies your group every step of the way, taking “We strive to keep Navy Pier fresh so that there is always something new and exciting tocare seeof or all do the every details, time answeryou visit us,” says Marilynn Gardner, Navy Pier’s general manager. “No matter the weather, we find ing all their questions, so they ways to provide exciting entertainment and family-friendly fun for everyone to enjoy. Our are goal is totoexplore provide free theguests wonwith not only a variety of things to do, but also a quality experience that they will share with others year round.” ders Asia will reveal.

Year-Round Activity

Meetings, Events and Easy Accessibility The Pier also is a Chicago favorite for private functions and special events. The majestic Grand Ballroom, home to ballroom dancing and live entertainment since 1916, still hosts hundreds of private functions, entertainment activities and meetings each year. Located at the east end of the Pier, the Grand Ballroom features an 80-foot domed ceiling and a spectacular 180-degree view of Lake Michigan. Festival Hall, the Pier’s state-of-the-art meeting and exhibition facility, was designed to serve both exposition and special event needs. With more than 170,000 square feet of exhibition space, this facility takes maximum advantage of the Pier’s lakefront setting, hosting exhibitions, trade shows, scientific conferences, receptions, art shows and meetings of all kinds. It features ceiling heights of up to 60 feet, 30 meeting rooms adjacent to the show floor, as well as reception areas with spectacular views of Chicago’ s lakefront. Navy Pier’s downtown location puts it within easy walking distance of more than 5,000 hotel rooms. Located just north of the Chicago River on the Lakefront, Navy Pier is accessible by car, cab, train, bus, bike or boat. Over 1,700 parking spots are available on the Pier, and free trolley buses serve off-site parking lots as well. For those arriving by taxi, convenient drop-off points are provided at the front, middle and very end of the Pier. For more information and event listings call (800) 595-PIER Or, visit the Navy Pier website at

Go A Little Overboard- Visit Navy Pier  

Historic Navy Pier® is Chicago's lakefront playground. And it's the Midwest's #1 tourist and leisure destination, attracting more than 8.6 m...