12 Can't-Miss Events at Navy Pier, Chicago

12 Can't-Miss Events at Navy Pier, Chicago

Navy Pier is a hub for great entertainment, food, and fun in Chicago. Take a trip to the Windy City and check out some of these can't-miss Navy Pier events!

Chicago's Navy Pier is a city treasure unlike any other. From the gigantic Ferris wheel to the delicious restaurants, the Pier remains one of Chicago's most-visited tourist attractions. Navy Pier, situated on Lake Michigan, was built in 1916 and is 3,300 feet long. It lies in the Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago's Northside. Throughout its lifetime, the Pier has been used in a variety of ways. What was once a commercial pier has been transformed into an entertainment center, a college classroom, a Navy training center, and a gathering place.

Today, the Pier acts as a venue for weddings and events and is the location for the Chicago Children's Museum and performers from the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. The Pier was recently portrayed in the 2014 film, Divergent.

Whether you're planning your first trip to Chicago, or if you just keep coming back to the Windy City, Navy Pier is a destination that begs to be experienced. Below is a list of Navy Pier events for the next time you visit this Midwestern gem.

1. Take a Cruise on Lake Michigan

Chicago's beautiful location on Lake Michigan is what makes the city so unique, so take advantage of it in the best way possible. In its most basic function, Navy Pier is the launch point for numerous cruises around Lake Michigan. Choose from options like the Tall Ship Windy, a 148-foot schooner that will give you a real sailing experience, or opt for a Spirit of Chicago dinner or lunch cruise to maximize your time on the water. All cruises treat you to gorgeous views of the city skyline and are an entertaining way to spend the afternoon or evening. Certain cruises are available seasonally, so check online before you go.

2. Catch an IMAX Movie in 3-D

Boasting interesting and engaging films like "Pandas: The Journey Home," or National Geographic's "Living in the Age of Airplanes," the IMAX theater is a wonderful experience for the entire family. Unlike conventional movie theaters, there are no bad seats in an IMAX theater, and the sound quality is unbeatable. You'll be able to dive deeper into the viewing content and enjoy the movie using all of your senses. In combination with other events at Navy Pier, catching an IMAX movie is an excellent way to spend the day in the Windy City.

For information on what's showing when you visit, go to http://www.imax.com/navy-pier-imax-oo.

3. Go Ice Skating

Winter transforms Navy Pier into a snowy oasis of family-friendly fun. If the chilly air of the Chicago is a bit too much for you, then you can ditch the outdoor rink at Millennium Park and opt for indoor ice skating at Navy Pier. As part of Winter Wonderfest, the rink is adorned with sparkling lights, beautiful trees, and plenty of holiday cheer. You can even pair your admission with an activity ticket to include a whole range of activities and rides.

For more information about the rink and Winter Wonderfest, visit http://www.winterwonderfest.com/attractions.html#rink.

4. See a Play at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater

These geniuses of storytelling bring life to the stage and smiles to the audience as they perform, adapt, and create wonderful plays that pay tribute to the Shakespearean style. Not only are the actors phenomenal, but the venue is exquisite and not easy to forget.

Navy Pier's vast theater takes up three levels and boasts 510 seats. You'll feel good about supporting this considerate troop of actors who also dedicate their time to literacy in Chicago's public schools and global outreach to numerous international festivals and theaters. Watch for classic Shakespearean plays as well as the crews own renditions.

To see what's on when you visit, check out https://www.chicagoshakes.com/.

5. Grab a Brew at the LandShark Beer Garden

Summer is a whole different animal in Chicago, and Navy Pier turns into a relaxing place to take in the sights. At the LandShark Beer Garden, visitors can enjoy food and drinks while listening to live music right on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Like a big backyard barbecue, the Pier is a destination for those looking to unwind and enjoy the summer sun. With excellent draft brews and numerous dining options, it's easy to forget your troubles and relax the day away on the Pier.

For information about the opening times and menu choices, visit https://navypier.com/beer-garden/.

6. Stroll Through a Home Show

Get inspired by beautiful and innovative design ideas at a Navy Pier home show. The Ideal Home Show Chicago features the latest trends in home design and comfort. If you've been meaning to start a remodeling project, or have the energy but lack the ideas, then you'll love gleaning inspiration from the leading experts on the future of home furnishings and decor.

With plenty of samples and brochures to pick up, your future designing efforts are sure to succeed. The Home Show is located in the Festival Hall, and the cost of admission is $10 at the door or $8 online.

Check out http://www.idealhomeshowchicago.com/ for more information.

7. Enjoy the Summer Fireworks

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Arguably the best place to watch fireworks in the entire city, Navy Pier offers outstanding fireworks set in the reflection of shimmering Lake Michigan and paired with perfectly timed music. Whether you watch from the pier or view while on a boat cruise, you won't find a more awe-inducing way to spend a summer night.

And don't worry if you're trip doesn't coincide with a holiday because the Aon Summer Fireworks don't discriminate. You'll have plenty of opportunities besides July 4th to enjoy the awesome display.

For more information check out https://navypier.com/aon-summer-fireworks/.

8. Go Trick-or-Treating

Holidays are big at Navy Pier, and Halloween is no exception. Grab your best costume and your candy-collecting bag and head to the pier for haunted houses, contests, and Halloween-themed cruises. Kids will love decorating their own candy skulls and getting their faces painted, and adults will enjoy the prizes and fireworks display.

There is plenty to see and do, and it's a great excuse to enjoy the beautiful fall weather before winter sets in. Best of all, this event runs throughout October, so you can celebrate Halloween all month long and make this event part of your Chicago trip.

For more information, check out the Navy Pier calendar of events at https://navypier.com/events/.

9. Celebrate Neighborhoods of the World

This free event is a great way to dive into a variety of cultures without ever leaving the comforts of home. As part of an eight-week series, the Neighborhoods of the World event celebrates a variety of different cultures and backgrounds, featuring a different one every Sunday. Sample wonderful Italian cuisine, discover ancient Indian traditions and experience the excitement of the Chinese New Year.

This event is an excellent way to try new foods that you've always been curious about, and learn about traditions that are part of the rich culture of our diverse world. You'll be entertained by various dance and musical performances, and you'll feel like you've traveled the world without ever leaving Chicago.

For more information, visit: https://navypier.com/neighborhoods-world/

10. Stay Healthy and Get Fit

Get ready to show off your muscles! This free fitness event at Navy Pier is a great way to try your hand at different exercise routines and classes. The Ultimate Fitness Expo features Hollywood fitness expert Eric Fleishman, aka "Eric the Trainer," and Billy Blanks, the creator of Tae Bo Fitness. There will be free classes all day long including Crossfit, Yoga, Zumba, Pilates, and Tae Bo. For the more adventurous, the Expo offers a Chair Dance 101 class.

The event includes great music, games, and giveaways, as well as samples of the latest products the fitness industry has to offer. Whether you're new to working out or as seasoned as an old pro, you'll love this free event full of everything fitness.

For more information, visit: https://navypier.com/blog/show-your-muscles-ultimate-fitness-expo-comes-pier/

11. Join the World's Largest Indoor Bar Crawl

New Orlean's might be known for their Mardi Gras celebrations, but Chicago is upping the ante with the World's Largest Indoor Bar Crawl. With live music, games, and prizes, you'll have plenty do to without ever leaving the Pier. So grab your masks and your beads, and get ready for an all-day event that you'll never forget. With 10 participating bars and dozens of food and drink specials, the Pier is going to change the way you celebrate Mardi Gras.

Set in the Crystal Gardens near the main entrance of Navy Pier, this event costs $15 for a standard ticket and includes two gift cards valid at participating bars.

For more information, visit: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-worlds-largest-indoor-bar-crawl-presents-mardi-gras-crawl-tickets-19826053259?aff=NPdomain&discount=NAVYPIER

12. Make History With America's Cup

History in the making! Chicago (and Lake Michigan) will be the first freshwater location ever chosen to host the America's Cup event; a first in the race's 164-year history. The race will be a qualifying event for the 2017 America's Cup, set in Bermuda. The competing teams include USA, Great Britain, France, New Zealand, Japan, and Sweden.

Catch all of the action from Navy Pier and be a part of America's Cup History. The start and finish line will be closest to the Grand Ballroom & East End Plaza, in the water of course.

For more information, visit https://navypier.com/americas-cup-2016/

No matter when you visit Chicago, Navy Pier has plenty to see and do; you won't find yourself short of options for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Pack your bags, take a trip to Chicago and enjoy a few days exploring the many fun events at Navy Pier.

Lead photo courtesy of pixabay here: https://pixabay.com/en/chicago-usa-america-united-states-690364/

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