Top 5 things to do on the Navy Pier in Chicago

The Navy Pier in Chicago offers more than a place to catch fish. Year-round fun for the entire family includes shows, attractions, rides, games and theaters. Construction began more than 90 years ago, and today the Chicago landmark features more than 50 acres of parks, shops, restaurants and cultural attractions such as the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. If your time is limited, try to hit these top 5 things to do on the Navy Pier.

Navy Pier Ferris Wheel: This 150-foot-tall ride, modeled after the very first Ferris wheel built for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, spins all year round. Catch it at night when thousands of lights sparkle as you take in a fantastic view of the Chicago skyline.

Family Pavilion at Navy Pier: Chicago's family pavilion includes the 50,000-square-foot Chicago Children's Museum, a 440-seat IMAX Theater and 40,000 square feet of restaurants and shops. The Crystal Gardens, a 32,000-square-foot indoor botanical park, offers a warm refuge during inclement weather.

The Smith Museum of Stained Glass Window: This Chicago Navy Pier permanent display showcases 150 stained glass windows in an 800-foot-long series of galleries. Some of the windows were created by such noted artists as Louis Comfort Tiffany and John LaFarge. The collection encompasses both secular and religious themes.

Cruise from the Navy Pier: Take a cruise aboard one of the several vessels that dock at the Navy Pier, including multi-passenger speedboats, sightseeing boats and yachts. The Tall Ship Windy, a 148-foot, four-masted sailing schooner, offers cruises for up to 150 passengers, who might be called upon to help raise and trim the sails. Other waterborne options include dinner cruises and private charters.

See a play at the Navy Pier: Chicago Shakespeare Theater, a seven-story theater on the pier, stages plays year-round by its namesake Bard, as well as more modern musical, comedies and dramas. The complex includes an intimate 510-seat theater, a flexible 180-seat theater, rehearsal spaces, a British-style pub and a Shakespeare resource center.

There are plenty of nearby hotels if you want to spend more than a day at the Navy Pier and downtown Chicago. And yes, if you want to try your luck at catching some yellow perch or muskie in Lake Michigan, the Navy Pier has areas set aside for fishing.

Photo by nathanmac87 on Flickr
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