Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Fri September 16 2016

Opinion Home | Far-Sighted Field Notes

  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | September 16, 2016 11:00 PM ET

    Spend the Day at Chicago’s Navy Pier

    Spend the Day at Chicago’s Navy Pier

    Photo courtesy of Navy Pier

    After Millennium Park and the iconic Cloud Gate sculpture, Navy Pier is the place most Chicago travelers want to see. And for good reason — the pier is the best place to glimpse the glory of Chicago’s lakefront with the striking skyline as a backdrop. Of course, there’s lots more to this historic sight beyond scenery. You can easily spend an entire day just roaming the boardwalk, so here are some ideas for how to spend an afternoon at Navy Pier:

    Soak Up the Lake Scene

    No matter what the season, taking in the lakefront views are an essential experience at Navy Pier. Stroll down the boardwalk, which stretches out for 2,000 feet along Lake Michigan, and watch boats sail and dock.

    In honor of Navy Pier’s 2016 centennial anniversary, the promenade has been lined with new, smoother paving stones, tree groves and benches. There are even lounging chairs where you can stretch out and absorb the sun and lake breezes. A sightseeing cruise is another great way to experience the lakefront. Seadog Cruises and Shoreline Sightseeing supply boat tours from Navy Pier.

    Boardwalk Bites

    This wouldn’t be Chicago if food didn’t play a significant role with the Navy Pier experience. A host of restaurants supply sidewalk cafes along the boardwalk, including seasonal offerings from Chicago classics like Giordano’s Pizza, The Original Rainbow Cone and Completely Nuts fresh roasted, cinnamon covered nuts. The Miller Lite Beer Garden at the end of the pier supplies a popular spot for cocktails and bar snacks.

    Inside, the pier, the eating choices are endless. Browse the food court and check out Chicago eateries like DMK Burger Bar and Fish Bar, Big City Chicken and Pork Chop BBQ. For full-service options, consider Harry Caray’s Tavern, Riva Crab House or the Billy Goat Tavern, made famous by classic “Saturday Night Live” skits.

    READ MORE: Top 4 Chicago Reggae Hotspots

    Raise Your Adrenaline

    The new Centennial Wheel attracts visitors from all over with its state of the art design and views of the city. But Navy Pier offers other amusement park rides as well. Ride an old school carousel or fly around in the more daring Pepsi Wave Swinger. There are also climbing walls, a light tower ride and remote control toy boats to maneuver.

    Skate By The Lake offers outdoor ice skating through July and Amazing Chicago’s Funhouse Maze serves up 4,000 square feet of mazes and tunnels.

    For more low-key excitement, head to Polk Brothers Park to enjoy fountains, sculptures and live performances. Or take in the Driehaus Gallery of Stained Glass for Tiffany glass stained windows.

    Relax on the Beach

    After all that eating, walking and excitement, cooling down and slowing down is a great idea. Ohio Street Beach is a hidden enclave right across from Navy Pier. Just walk past the bus and trolley stops and you’ll see the path that leads to the beach and Jane Addams Park. Ohio Street Beach is rarely crowded so you can lie out on the sand or dip your toes into the lake as long as you want. The beach bar, Caffe Oliva, serves up cocktails and the best fish tacos for the perfect finish to your day.

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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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