Navy Pier, Chicago – Over a 100 Years in the Making

Navy Pier - Building2We had a great time in Chicago, and really enjoyed visiting some of the sights like Willis Tower, the Art Institute, Museum of Science and Industry and Millennium Park.  However one of the more relaxing and enjoyable things we did in the windy city, was checking out the Navy Pier. It is quite a unique place and I am so glad we spent a few hours roaming around and seeing what there was to see. Navy Pier - 100 YearsWhen we first got there, we stopped at the information desk and asked for a brochure of the pier, shops, etc.  We found out that it was their 100th year and that there was a free trolley that took you to different parts of the pier, as well as through certain areas of Chicago. I thought that was so cool. I had been to the Navy Pier once before, but never made it past the first few stores. We enjoyed looking at the different shops and such, but our main goal was to see the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse at the end of the pier.

Navy Pier - OutsideWe stopped a lot of times and took a bunch of pictures along the way and didn’t really realize that the pier is actually over a mile long, at 3,300-foot. It probably would have seemed longer if you were walking and hadn’t stopped a few places here and there. We also didn’t’ realize that the Navy Pier encompasses more than fifty acres of parks, gardens, shops, restaurants, family attractions and exhibition facilities. Until I was doing research for our trip, I had no idea that it is the top leisure destination in the Midwest, drawing nearly nine million visitors annually, one of the most visited attractions in the entire Midwestern United States and is Chicago’s number one tourist attraction.

Navy Pier - USS Illinois

I also found out the that the Navy Pier was originally named “Municipal Pier”, was built by Charles Sumner Frost, and opened to the public on July 15, 1916. Thus the 100 year celebration, which made we wish we had been there in July instead of June. Oh well, it would have probably been insane, lol.  Anyway, the Municipal Pier was renamed to the Navy Pier in 1927 to honor the naval veterans who served in the First World War. Navy Pier - USToday the Navy Pier attractions include sightseeing tours from companies such as Seadog Ventures, Shoreline Sightseeing cruises and Water Taxi service, and the tall ship “Windy.” There are also dinner cruises by Entertainment Cruises on their ships the “Spirit of Chicago,” “Odyssey II,” and “Mystic Blue.” The pier has fireworks on Wednesday and Saturday nights during the summer and Saturday nights during the fall. Sadly we weren’t around for the fireworks, but I’m sure they were amazing and will be on our list for next time we are there during the summer months.

The one thing that we enjoyed the most, besides seeing the lighthouse, was spending time at their Beer Garden. Yippie, beer and pretzels, lol  Located on the east end of the pier, right on the lakefront, you won’t find a better spot in Chicago to relax, unwind, and soak in summer fun. At least that’s what they say on their site, and I believe them. We had the best time, drinking, relaxing, listening to live music and of course people watching. Navy Pier - Guidewall LighthouseLike I said earlier, the main reason I wanted to go back to the Navy Pier was to see the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse. To our surprise there were actually two. The first one was the Chicago Harbor Southeast Guidewall Lighthouse. This lighthouse marks the entrance to the Chicago River and an inland waterway leading to the Mississippi River. It is located on a guidewall on the south side of the river entrance, south of Navy Pier in Chicago. There were definitely good views from the south side of Navy Pier. Navy Pier - Chicago HarborOnce we made it to the end of the pier we saw the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse.  It stands at the end of the northern break water protecting the Chicago Harbor, to the east of Navy Pier and the mouth of the Chicago River. This is still an active and automated lighthouse. It was constructed in 1893 for the World’s Columbian Exposition and moved to its present site in 1919.  While at the end of the pier, you can’t miss all the American Flags, the Illinois Flag and the Chicago Flags. So cool. Gene also enjoyed seeing the 8 ton anchor on display from the USS Chicago. I liked the fact that it was there as a reminder of those who served in the war and those who trained on the pier. I think it meant a lot of me as my dad was in the Navy and it was a nice connection even though he wasn’t never stationed there (at least not to my knowledge). Navy Pier - FlagsI know this post was long, but we had one of the best days hanging out at the pier and taking a lot of pictures. I can’t wait to go back one day and maybe take a ride of their huge Ferris Wheel. Looks like a lot of fun and I am sure there are some great views from the top. Here is a link to their site for more info. if you have any comments or want to share your visit, please comment below. Love to hear from people. Hope you enjoyed our visit to the Navy Pier.


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