The Navy Pier Ferris wheel dominates the skyline near the Lake Michigan shore.

Family Vacations: Navy Pier

Chicago's lakefront playground is a fabulous 50-acre complex of parks, promenades, shops, and restaurants. Much of it is quite literally a pier overhanging the blue waters of Lake Michigan. Navy Pier is a wonderful place to bike or roller blade, and rental shops offer both.

The pier is home to a wide array of family-oriented events and entertainment. Its most visible attraction is a 150-foot-high Ferris wheel that was modeled after the one built for Chicago's 1893 World Columbian Exposition. It is a great way to get a bird's-eye view of the area. Other attractions include a musical carousel, old-fashioned Viennese swings, miniature golf, a maze, an IMAX theater, and an excellent children's museum.

Two stages offer free music and theatrical performances during the summer, and many shows are geared especially to families. Tour boats depart the pier regularly -- you can choose between speedboat rides that will have you zipping across Lake Michigan at 40 miles per hour or restful cruises whose guides provide background about Chicago's architecture. On select nights during the summer, Navy Pier stages a fireworks display that lights up the city's skyline. Special cruises that depart from the pier offer a perfect vantage point.

Navy Pier

Address: 600 E. Grand Ave

Chicago, IL

Phone: 312/595-PIER, 800/595-PIER

Continue to the next page to learn more about the amazing attractions on display at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Chicago City Guide: Find out where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when you visit the Windy City.
  • Illinois State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Illinois, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.