Midwest Living Review
With 8.6 million visitors a year, it's no surprise that Navy Pier ranks as one of the top tourist draws in the Midwest. And it's easy to see why -- there is a lot to do there and something for just about everyone. Best of all, you don't have to spend a lot of money unless you choose to do so. Though most people don't realize it, Navy Pier is one of Chicago's most historic sites --alternately over the years a cargo ship port, Naval training center and college campus -- and it offers views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline that are unlike any other. The pier itself is a mile long and features myriad stores and restaurants (including a food court for those who don't want to drop heavy money at restaurants such as Harry Caray's Tavern and Riva), mostly catering to a tourist crowd. Among the amenities you'll find are the Chicago Children's Museum, the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Pepsi Skyline Stage, an Imax theater, a beer garden and Pier Park, which features an old-fashioned carousel, a swings ride and a 90-foot-tall Ferris wheel that is a do-not-miss feature. If that's not enough, there are fireworks twice a week in the summer, boat cruises on the lake, and bicycles and Segways for rent. That said, it can get quite crowded, especially in the summer, so plan accordingly. And it's easy to drop a bundle if you're not careful. If you're on the economy plan, walk the pier, soak up the scenery and do a little people-watching -- there's no better place for it.