Our last visit to Chicago was eye opening. Our hotel was located just off of Michigan Avenue, which gave us walking access to many great attractions, including Navy Pier. The timing was great, as this was the period where Kansas City was experiencing 100 degree weather. The 90 degree temps in Chicago felt cool in comparison. While our time was limited, we did try to squeeze in as much sight-seeing as possible.
Chicago’s Navy Pier is one of the top attractions in the city, and celebrated its 100th year in 2016. Tons of restaurants and shops dot the boardwalk, while a handful of amusement rides beckon visitors to play. The Ferris wheel is a main draw, and the views from the top are amazing. This is also home to Crystal Gardens, a six story glass atrium, which holds tropical plants, and live palm trees. With beautiful views of the lake, this is a popular venue for weddings.
Another popular activity, is to enjoy one of the boat tours of Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. There are a wide assortment of vessels to choose from, and they seem to offer limitless styles.
Sightseeing cruises, dining cruises, and even private charters can be found along the edge of the pier. We even had the opportunity to witness a “pirate” schooner sail out of port. Of course it is motorized, so passengers are not required to hoist sail to travel. This attraction seemed especially popular with families. Over-sized speed boats offer thrill rides in a controlled environment.
Of course, the main draw is being near the water. The views of the lake are amazing. It’s easy to imagine you are staring at the start of a small ocean, since the lake goes on for miles. This makes for tons of photo opportunities all along the pier.
Crowds can be large at times, but the pier has so many wide open areas that it is easy to find some open space. A children’s museum, and two theaters offer entertainment. Most of these places can be accessed along the waterfront. Enter the heart of the Navy Pier, and you find a long series of corridors. These are lined with shops offering all sorts of souvenir items. Clothing, jewelry, sports memorabilia, and toys are just a few of the items that can be found. A wide variety of dining options can be found at the pier. Restaurants offer everything from burgers and beer to fine dining. Fast food items are available at every turn. Maybe you prefer a slice of Chicago style deep dish pizza. Just about every type of food can be found here.
Too soon our time was up, and we left the navy Pier to head back to our hotel. Even when you are leaving you are treated to some great views. Seeing the city packed full of skyscrapers is breathtaking. We are certainly not in Kansas anymore.