Things to do at Navy Pier Chicago. Chicago’s Navy Pier is undergoing a transformation in anticipation of it’s 100th birthday in 2016. It’s slowly converting from a “cheesy mall-by-the-sea” into something that may attract residents to visit on occasions other than taking their out-of-town guests there. Construction is ongoing.
There’s still a wide selection of tacky overpriced souvenir shops and junk shacks, fast food outlets, kiddie activities and wall-to-wall tourists in summer. It’s still essentially designed to empty the visitors wallet (mostly well-meaning parents). If you’re visiting Chicago without children and have limited time you should go to Eataly instead. As the transformation is progressing in addition to great views the Pier now has some decent restaurants here.
Navy Pier Booze Rules: People who purchase an alcoholic beverage from a licensed vendor at Navy Pier are allowed to carry that drink throughout the Pier’s indoor and outdoor areas in specially marked, disposable cups provided by the vendor. No BYOB allowed anywhere on the Pier.
When you enter the Pier the first thing you’ll see is the Guest Services Desk where you can collect a map. If you’re a member of AAA let the Guest Services person know and they will give you a sheet of discount coupons for attractions, dining and shopping. I’ve listed all the 2017 discounts at the end of this post.
Also check out the racks on the sides of the desk for more discount coupons.
Attractions and prices as of date of publication:
- Polk Bros Fountain and Plaza: Play in the 12,500-square-foot signature fountain with more than 150 programmable jets that mimic the natural movements of waves, schools of fish or flocks of birds.
- Centennial Ferris Wheel: With the old ferris wheel you would wait in line longer than the ride lasted but the views were spectacular. The new ferris wheel is 50 feet taller and has enclosed gondolas so it runs year round with heat and air conditioning. Rides on the Centennial Wheel are $15 adults and $12 children 3-11. Purchase here. Illinois Resident Rates with valid photo ID (Nov. 1- Mar 31 only) Adults $12; Children (ages 3-11) $10 Walk-up Only. Art Institute Ferris Wheel Deal
- Carousel: $5 per person
- Wave Swinger: $8 per person
- Light Tower Ride: $5 per person
- Climbing Wall: $8
- Toy Boats: These take quarters which you can get from the nearby cashier. I recall spending a small fortune per child. These are coming back in the summer.
- Two ride combo: $19 adult, $15 child
- All day pass $35.
- Look for discount cruises here.
The all-day pass allows unlimited access for one guest on all 3 attractions ( Funhouse Maze, Time Freak, & Atomic Rush) during their visit $12.99
- Atomic Rush
- Time Freak
- Here are other Free and cheap things to do with kids in Chicago.
Shakespeare Theater: There are actually three theaters in the building and a pub (which I’ve never seen open). The coupon sheet referenced above includes a 25% discount for up to four tickets coupon. You can check here.
Skyline Stage: This is being replaced.
Children’s Museum (Free admission days) If you collect a sheet of coupons upon entering the pier there is a $2 off one adult or child admission.
Richard H Driehaus Gallery of Stained Glass: This is way out on the Pier past all the the dining options, past Riva and Exhibition Halls A and B. It’s eleven Tiffany Stained Glass windows. There used to be a separate museum that housed 143 stained glass panels. It was closed to make way for more retail. Some panels are in the Pedway outside of Macy’s at 111 N. State Street.
Souvenir shops and carts: Most of the gee-gaws and tchotchkes for sale on the Pier can be picked up at Walgreens for less than Pier prices. Most books such as Chicago Curiosities can be found for less on Amazon.
Miller Light Beer Garden is open seasonally and has live music Wednesday through Sundays. Check schedule here.
East end: Nice views particularly in summer when the boats are out.
- Navy Pier Trolley
- Water Taxi’s
- Buses: CTA Route number 29, 65, 66, 124.
- You can use a parking app to find cheaper parking although you will have to walk several blocks.
2017 Navy Pier Discount coupons (all coupons expire Dec. 1, 2017, Terms and conditions apply)
When you enter the Pier the first thing you’ll see is the Guest Services Desk where you can collect a map. If you’re a member of AAA let them know and they will give you a sheet of discount coupons for attractions, dining and shopping.
Restaurants (does not include tax and tip)
- America’s Dog 10% off any City Hot Dog Meal Deal
- Auntie Ann’s Free classic pretzel with purchase of any pretzel item
- Ben & Jerry’s free sprinkles with cup or cone purchase
- Billy Goat Tavern: 10% off any food purchase
- Brown Sugar Bakery 10% off entire purchase purchase
- Bubba Gump Shrimp: Free Forrest’s Appetizer or Kid’s meal with purchase of two entrees.
- Fresshii Free small cookie with entree purchase
- Greek Delight: 10% off any food purchase
- Harry Caray’s Tavern: 50% off Kid’s meal with purchase of one entrees.
- Jamba Juice: 10% off any purchase
- Margaritaville: $5 off $25 purchase.
- Porkchop BBQ: 20% off any purchase
- Riva Crab House: Free Chef’s Selected appetizer with purchase of any entree
- Chicago Children’s Muesum: $2 off one adult or child admission
- Chicago Trolley & Double Decker: $2 off any downtown ticket.
- Bike and Roll 10% off any Segway rental, bike tour or rental.
- Mystic Blue: 15% off dining cruises
- Odyssey: 15% off dining cruises
- Seadog: 15% off cruises
- Shoreline Sightseeing 1/2 price child ticket with Adult ticket purchase.
- Spirit of Chicago: 15% off dining cruises
- Amazing Funhouse maze $1 off one maze admission only
- Free sample size Garrett Popcorn.
- Faces in Focus: 15% off any purchase
- Fashion Bazar 10% off any purchase
- Magnetic Attraction: 15% off any purchase
- Sitara: 10% off any purchase