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Navy Pier

One of Chicago’s top attractions, Navy Pier is known for its wartime past and present-day revelry.

Navy Pier: Our most recommended tours and activities

Chicago: 1.5-Hour Lake and River Architecture Cruise

1. Chicago: 1.5-Hour Lake and River Architecture Cruise

Experience an architecture cruise along the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, a family tradition since 1935. Admire Chicago’s historic and ever-changing skyline with a local expert guide as you cruise through the city. Choose between the open-air decks or the comfort of the climate-controlled interiors during the cruise. Start the cruise at Michigan Avenue (DuSable) bridge and go up the main branch of the Chicago River to Wolf Point before heading back past the Chicago Riverwalk towards Lake Michigan. Learn about historic skyscrapers like the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower, the deco Merchandise Mart, mid-century skyscrapers like the Mies Van der Rohe AMA Building, the circular Marina City Towers, the AON Center, and modernist structures like Aqua, Trump Tower, Nuveen, and the Vista Tower. After passing through the Chicago Lock and cruising past Navy Pier, admire the Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan, one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world. Here you can also see the twin super-skyscrapers, the famous Willis (formerly Sears) Tower, and the John Hancock Building. See the majesty of Grant Park with its famous Buckingham Fountain, and iconic Chicago venues such as Soldier’s Field, Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium. Enjoy several vantage points for memorable pictures throughout, and finally arrive back at Du Sable Bridge on Michigan Avenue.

Chicago River Architecture Cruise: Skip-the-Ticket-Office

2. Chicago River Architecture Cruise: Skip-the-Ticket-Office

Skip the lines at the ticket office and climb aboard a state-of-the-art cruise for a 60- or 75-minute cruise of all 3 branches of the Chicago River, and marvel at the architecture that has made the city so legendary. Get an insight into the buildings and engineering of a city that gave birth to the skyscraper and is the spiritual home of modern American architecture. Your expert guide will lead you down the Chicago River to uncover hidden gems, as well the city’s most renowned landmarks, such as the John Hancock building, Trump Tower, Marina City, Willis Tower, and more. Relax with a glass of something cold from the cash bar, as you cruise the Windy City’s waterway, and learn its status as a modern metropolis and one of the world’s most beautiful cities. End your tour in the same place where you boarded the boat.

Chicago: Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Regular & Express Ticket

3. Chicago: Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Regular & Express Ticket

Experience the views from the Centennial Wheel at the Historic Navy Pier in Chicago with this attraction ticket. Be suspended over Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Chicago River. Marvel at the Chicago skyline and gaze out over the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan. Choose between two options: With the Regular Barcoded ticket, skip the ticket line and enter the line to board the wheel. The Fastpass Express ticket allows you to skip both lines, and gives you VIP access. Both tickets allow you to visit within 7 days of your scheduled ticket date. Enjoy the Centennial Wheel, which was built in 2016 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Navy Pier opening. Featuring 42 gondolas, each holding 8 people, it operates year-round. They also feature LED lighting, padded seats, TV screens, and speakers, as well as panoramic windows on all 4 sides. A ride on the wheel gives you plenty of time to enjoy these panoramic views of Chicago as they unfold around you, and allows you to visit the top three times. Relax and take in the view, or get your camera out to snap pictures of the ever-changing Chicago landscape.

Chicago: Lake Michigan Skyline Sightseeing Cruise

4. Chicago: Lake Michigan Skyline Sightseeing Cruise

Immerse yourself in the sights and learn about Chicago’s history and architecture during a cruise on Lake Michigan. Take advantage of skip-the-line entry privileges with a barcoded ticket that lets you proceed directly to the boarding line. Whether you’re a local or a visitor to the city for the first time, taking in the spectacular views of Chicago's skyline from the lake makes for a perfect outing. You’ll see the city as never before while listening to commentary on Chicago's history and architectural gems. Simply hop on board, sit back, relax, and enjoy as you admire Chicago's most significant landmarks and striking buildings that make up the city's skyline that has appeared in so many movies and TV shows.

Chicago: 90-Minute River and Lakefront Cruise at Night

5. Chicago: 90-Minute River and Lakefront Cruise at Night

Experience the magic of Chicago at nighttime and watch the city's glorious skyscrapers, historic buildings and modern marvels come to life with millions of twinkling lights. Relax and unwind at the end of the day on a cruise which not only lets you enjoy the scenic Chicago River, but also takes you through the Chicago Harbor Lock and out onto Lake Michigan where you can admire epic views of the sparkling Chicago skyline and shoreline. Throughout the ride, listen to lively narration about Chicago's rich history as the onboard guides point out the many sights of the city including Buckingham Fountain, Willis Tower, Aon Center, John Hancock Building, Museum Campus, Marina City, Wrigley Building, Chicago Tribune Building, Navy Pier, the Lighthouse and more. This tour also gives you the unique experience of passing through the Chicago River Lock System, while learning about the operation and the uses of the lock from your guide. You’ll also feel the boat rise as you enter Lake Michigan and lower as you return to the river, a unique experience for any boat lover.

Chicago Lakefront: Seadog Speedboat Ride

6. Chicago Lakefront: Seadog Speedboat Ride

This half-hour Seadog Speedboat ride along Chicago’s lakefront is one of the best ways to view the city’s skyline while learning about the city. Combine an exciting speedboat ride with informative and amusing stories about the world-famous Windy City. As you depart Chicago's Navy Pier, your captain will tell you interesting facts about the pier and the lakefront as he cranks up the music and races to key lakefront landmarks. Stop near the picturesque lakefront park of the Chicago Museum campus, where you’ll learn about the architecture and history of Chicago. Admire views of the Magnificent Mile neighborhood, including the Buckingham Fountain, Sears Tower, Grant Park, and Chicago's largest shopping district. Listen to the thrilling sound of the turbo engines as you race around the Lake Michigan waterfront and back to the Navy Pier. Upgrade to the Extreme Thrill Ride Option and experience exhilarating speeds and full 360° spins. This jet-propelled ride blasts off to start and splashes down to stop. Experience full-throttle slalom runs, sharp twists and turns, and the raw power of Seadog Extreme's 1400 HP engines.

Chicago: Lake Michigan Buffet Brunch, Lunch or Dinner Cruise

7. Chicago: Lake Michigan Buffet Brunch, Lunch or Dinner Cruise

See the sights of Chicago from onboard the Spirit of Chicago with a brunch, lunch, or dinner cruise on Lake Michigan. Enjoy a buffet dining experience as you sail through the Windy City and delight in panoramic views of its skyline. Board your vessel at Navy Pier and receive a personal greeting. Get your photo taken by the ship's photographer to capture the memory before being seated at your private table. After settling in, savor your brunch, lunch, or dinner buffet consisting of freshly-prepared entrees, main course, and desserts, while listening to the onboard DJ's tunes. View the city's imposing towers like John Hancock Center, Aon, Trump Tower, and Willis Tower. After your meal, play games like giant Jenga and shuffleboard, or bust out some moves on the dance floor. Don't forget to visit any of the 3 climate-controlled decks to watch the skyscrapers of Chicago's distinctive skyline glide by. SAMPLE BRUNCH BUFFET MENU Early Risers Seasonal Fruit Breakfast Pastries Scrambled Eggs Breakfast Meats Breakfast Potatoes Late Risers Organic Mixed Field Greens Green Bean Salad Red Beetroot Salad Roasted Broccoli Florets Baked Ziti Pasta Mashed Potatoes Oven-Baked Atlantic Atlantic Flounder Filet Honey and Sesame Chicken Hand-Carved, Slow-Roasted Strip Loin Dessert Raspberry Mousse Lemon Pound Cake and Fresh Strawberries Coconut Vanilla Cake Red Velvet and Chocolate Chip Brownie SAMPLE LUNCH AND DINNER BUFFET MENU Salads Organic Mixed Field Greens Organic Spinach and Kale Salad Green Bean Salad Kidney Bean, Black Bean, and Chickpea Salad Red Beetroot Salad Bow Tie Pasta Salad Vegetables, Potatoes, and Pasta Roasted Broccoli Florets Creamed Corn and Cheddar Cheese Casserole Baked Ziti Pasta Mashed Potatoes Entrées Oven-Baked Atlantic Flounder Filet Honey and Sesame Chicken Italian Beef Meatballs Braised Beef Short Ribs (dinner only) Dessert Seasonal Fruit Raspberry Mousse Lemon Pound Cake and Fresh Strawberries Coconut Vanilla Cake Carrot Cake Red Velvet and Chocolate Chip Brownie (dinner only) The menu is subject to change. Please inform your server if anyone in your party has a food allergy.

Chicago: Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Tour

8. Chicago: Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Tour

From your vantage point on the double-decker sightseeing bus, you'll enjoy panoramic views of Chicago’s finest skyscrapers, including the John Hancock Center, the Willis Tower, and the Wrigley Building. Take in the city's most impressive landmarks while listening to entertaining commentary and insight into Chicago's history. Explore this dynamic city with the freedom to hop on and hop off as many times as you wish to visit attractions such as the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Natural History Museum. You’ll travel along the famous Magnificent Mile, considered one of the great avenues of the world, and continue across the Michigan Avenue Bridge over the Chicago River. This hop-on, hop-off bus tour of Chicago makes it easy for you to explore the city's sights at your own pace. All stops are conveniently located to make navigating your way around the city easy, and with a choice of 24- or 48-hour tickets, you can take your time discovering Chicago. With the 48-hour ticket, enjoy a non-stop Panoramic Night Tour of the city included with your ticket! Admire the illuminated skyline from the Museum Campus and see River North's vibrant nightlife scene.

Chicago: Lake Michigan Gourmet Brunch/Lunch/Dinner Cruise

9. Chicago: Lake Michigan Gourmet Brunch/Lunch/Dinner Cruise

Discover Chicago's sparkling skyline from Lake Michigan on a sightseeing cruise. Savor a mouthwatering meal while listening to music played by a live DJ. Sip on unlimited coffee and tea while gazing out at sights like Navy Pier, Grant Park, and Willis Tower. Board the boat at Navy Pier and enjoy a personal greeting. Smile for the ship's photographer to capture the memory, then embark on an elegant dining cruise along the Chicago shoreline. After being seated at your private table, tuck into your gourmet meal. Enjoy a creative meal prepared fresh by the onboard chef. Following your meal, dance to live music or relax on any of the 3 decks as you watch the skyscrapers of Chicago's distinctive skyline glide by.  Sample lunch and dinner menu: Starters (choice of one): Caesar Salad Lobster Bisque (dinner only) Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail (dinner only, available for additional price) Seafood Tower (dinner only, available for additional price) 2.5oz 1/2 Lobster Tail (dinner only, available for additional price) Main course (choice of one): Jumbo Forest Mushroom Ravioli Oven-Baked Atlantic Salmon Filet Oven Roasted Frenched Chicken Breast with Rosemary and Thyme Braised Beef Short Rib Pan-Seared Fresh Pacific Cod (dinner only) 8 oz USDA Choice Filet Mignon (dinner only, available for additional price) 18 oz USDA Prime Striploin (dinner only, available for additional price) Two 5 oz Broiled Maine Lobster Tails (dinner only, available for additional price) Choice of dessert (choice of one): Eli's New York Style Cheesecake Duo of Sorbet Freshly Cut Fruit and Fresh Strawberries Triple Chocolate Mud Pie (dinner only) Odyssey Signature Warm Butter Cake (dinner only) French Macarons (dinner only, available for additional price) Champagne Chocolate Truffles (dinner only, available for additional price) Menu items are subject to change.

Chicago: 75-Minute Architecture Cruise by Speedboat

10. Chicago: 75-Minute Architecture Cruise by Speedboat

Climb aboard a speedboat for a thrilling river and lake cruise around some of Chicago’s architectural gems. Gain insights into the city's most famous landmarks from your guide. Admire sights like Willis Tower, Tribune Tower, and Buckingham Fountain. Depart from the former Navy training center of Navy Pier on the shores of Lake Michigan on a tour along the lakefront. Sail through the locks and along the Chicago River all the way to the second tallest building in the USA, Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower). Get up close to Chicago’s most iconic buildings and unique architecture, and enjoy amazing views and an entertaining narration as part of the exciting ride. Learn the fascinating history of structures like the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Cruise the lakefront of Lake Michigan to see monuments and attractions such as Buckingham Fountain, Grant Park, Chicago Harbor, and the Chicago Museum Campus.

  • Entry tickets
  • Guided tours
  • Water activities
  • City cards
  • Hop-on hop-off tours
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Other Sightseeing Options in Navy Pier

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What people are saying about Navy Pier

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 6,297 reviews

The only bad thing about this was that it didn’t last long enough. Loved it. Got soaked just what I expected and wanted, nearly lost my eyelashes due to the speed of the boat. Would defo recommend this.

Perfect experience, the best way to see Chicago. The guide was fun and knowledgable, and we learned a lot about the amazing history of Chicago.

The tour was awesome. Very knowledgeable and entertaining guide. The views of the city from the boat were outstanding.

Great introduction to Chicago. The boat was comfortable and the guide was very informative and engaging.

Very enjoyable excursion and knowledgeable cruise host.