If you are looking for family entertainment in Chicago, look no further than the Navy Pier.
Today the 3,300 foot pier along the Lake Michigan Shoreline is once again used for public entertainment. There are fireworks every Wednesday and Saturday during the summer and Saturday nights during the fall. Other waterfront festivities include the annual Air and Water Airshow and a parade of brightly lit and decorated boats during the Venetian Night Festival. This year the pier boasted the only floating haunted house in the world as part of October’s Halloween fun.
Navy Pier has a rich history and was originally built in 1916 as a cargo facility and warehouse district. The pier was immediately important as a naval facility in World War I. During this time it housed Navy and Army personnel, the Red Cross, and Home Defense Units. During World War II the pier was closed to the public and used for naval training. However, during its golden age between the two wars the pier would have looked more familiar to modern eyes, dotted with picnicking areas, dining pavilions, a dance hall, auditorium, and children’s playground. In 1933 it hosted the World Fair and in 1976 was part of the country’s bicentennial celebration.
Among its more than 50 acres of parks, promenades, gardens, shops, a ballroom, concert stage, exhibition hall and restaurants, the Ferris wheel dominates the skylines. At 150-foot (45.7 m) it’s a biggie. Its 40 spokes span a diameter of 140 feet. The world record for longest Ferris wheel ride was set by the park operations manager–48 hours, 8 minutes, and 25 seconds! And if somehow you get bored riding the Ferris wheel, there are plenty more rides for your family entertainment.
And don’t miss the Chicago Children’s Museum. You and your kids will enjoy playing together in the many interactive exhibits including: the Tinkering Lab, Dinosaur Exhibition, and Kids Town. But before you plan your visit don’t forget to check their calendar of events to make sure you are there to enjoy costumes, face painting, and more!
One of my favorite restaurants on the pier is Bubba Gumps. Here you can enjoy Mama’s Blue Shrimp Gumbo, the BLT Shrimp Salad, Shrimp New Orleans, Shrimp and Veggie Skewers, Traditional Shrimp Cocktail, Shrimp Shack Mac n’ Cheese . . . . I’m not reminding you of a certain movie starring Tom Hanks, am I? You know I love a good shrimp boil, so Bubba Gumps style of food is right up my alley.
And the kids will love the souvenir shops with their variety of kitsch from snow globes to local sports team gear. While they’re enjoying all the trinkets Mom and Dad can take in the magnificent view of the city and of the lake. So if you are looking for family entertainment during your visit to Chicago, don’t forget Navy Pier.