"Navy Pier" Top 5 Page for this destination Illinois Things to Do Tip by traveldave

Illinois Things to Do: 139 reviews and 248 photos


Built to hold cargo facilities, Navy Pier underwent extensive renovations during the 1990s and now contains parks, shops, restaurants, entertainment facilities, and cultural attractions. It is now the most-visited tourist attraction in Chicago.

The 3,300-foot (1,006-meter) pier was designed by architect Charles Sumner Frost and was constructed between 1914 and 1916. Its primary purpose was to serve as a cargo facility for lake freighters, but it also was used for passenger steamship service. Warehouses lined the length of the pier to accommodate the cargo that was shipped to and from Chicago.

During the Second World War, the pier was closed to the public and converted for use as a naval training center capable of accommodating up to 10,000 service personnel. It was during his period that Navy Pier acquired its current name.

After the war, Navy Pier was returned to civilian use, but it was underutilized and eventually sat dilapidated and unused for decades. Then, in 1990 a multi-million dollar renovation transformed the former derelict pier into Chicago's leading attraction. There are numerous restaurants with stunning skyline views, shops and boutiques, theaters (including the Chicago Shakespeare Theater), a ballroom, a concert stage, an IMAX theater, and one of the largest ferris wheels in the nation. Navy Pier also contains the Chicago Children's Museum and the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows. Chicago's numerous sightseeing and dinner-cruise lines dock at the pier.

The pier and its grounds cover more than 50 acres (20 hectares) and include 176,000 square feet (15,794 square meters) of exhibition space, 50,000 square feet (4,645 square meters) of reception space, and 48,000 square feet (4,459 square meters) of meeting-room space.

Navy Pier has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Directions: Navy Pier is located at 600 East Grand Avenue, just east of downtown Chicago.

Review Helpfulness: 1.5 out of 5 stars

Was this review helpful?

  • Updated Sep 26, 2012
  • Send to a Friend
  • Add to your Trip Planner
  • Report Abuse


traveldave Used To Live Here!


“"....For I must be traveling on now, 'cause there's too many places I've got to see...." (Lynyrd Skynyrd).”

Online Now


Top 1,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 0 1 9 2

Have you been to Illinois?

  Share Your Travels