Pier Park at Navy Pier with the carousel in the foreground and Ferris wheel in the background

Pier Park at Navy Pier

Pier Park at Navy Pier is one of Chicago's best-loved historic landmarks. Both locals and tourists visit the pier to enjoy a day on beautiful Lake Michigan. The pier extends almost a full mile from the shore out over the lake and provides some of the most picturesque views of the Chicago skyline.


Pier Park, located on the upper deck of the pier, between the Crystal Gardens and the Pepsi Skyline Stage is an outdoor landscaped area that boasts many fun attractions. Highlights include the Ferris Wheel, Wave Swinger, Carousel, The Links Mini Golf, and the Light Tower Ride. The Ferris wheel was modeled after the world's very first Ferris wheel that was constructed for Chicago's 1893 World Colombian Exposition. The ride lasts 7 thrilling minutes and offers some of the best views in the city of the Chicago skyline. The Wave Swinger towers almost forty feet in the air and is a forty-eight seat swing ride that lifts visitors fourteen feet in the air.

The beautiful carousel, designed exclusively for Navy Pier, recreates the Pier's golden age of the 1920s and includes 36 hand-painted animal seats that are typical of historic carousels. Additionally, the exquisite, hand-painted rounding boards at the top of the 44-foot carousel depict scenes of Navy Pier's history. The Links Mini Golf is an 18-hole miniature golf course with each hole centered around a Chicago-specific theme. The Light Tower Ride is another fun attraction that bounces up and down, providing lots of thrills. There are also 8 remote-control, token-operated boats located at the Wave Swinger attraction.

Planning a Visit

Visiting Pier Park is absolutely free; however, rides at Pier Park range anywhere from $2-$7 per ride. It is advisable to pre-purchase ride tickets in advance, saving you both time and money. There are value tickets and family pass discounts available. Parking fees can vary, and on weekends parking can be not only elusive, but also expensive. There are, however, public transportation options that can save you money. Navy Pier is opened from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends. Visiting Pier Park is ideal during warmer weather and offers spectacular views at night when the city is lit up with lights. Because the pier is a premier tourist destination, it can become crowded during summer months, especially on weekends and during holidays. Visitors should remember to bring a camera. Between the stunning views of the city and the city lights at night, the Chicago skyline makes a wonderful background at almost any point along Pier Park.

Last Updated: August 22, 2014