|Shopping at Navy Pier in Chicago|
There is no doubt about it, Chicago is a fun city. It can also be a very expensive city. Last year, on a whim, the kids and I decided to take the four hour trip from Michigan to the windy city, to visit Navy Pier. It's one of those tourist-type attractions that you live close enough to that you take it for granted, so even though we've lived here five years now, we'd never checked it out in person.
I had no idea what I was getting into, I just hoped it would be fun. And it was! What made it even better, was that it was not expensive. Yes, we paid quite a bit to park the car in the adjacent garage, we paid for dinner while we there...and we got a souvenir for grandma, but it was still very decently priced (and it's free to enter). We had a whole afternoon and evening of fun, and none of us really wanted to come back home quite yet, when it was time to go.
Nestled alongside the beautiful Lake Michigan, the waterfront view put us in a good mood from the get-go. There were small boats, sail boats, and even a yacht or two moving alongside us as we walked from the parking garage to the pier.
Inside there were rides for the smaller children, and a fifteen-story tall Ferris wheel for everyone to enjoy. If you've never seen a Ferris wheel that big, I'm here to tell you that it was pretty extraordinary. My kids and I all enjoy roller coasters, the bigger the better, but my daughter and I always steer clear of Ferris wheels. Why? I don't know...they just make us a tad bit nervous. This one, however, was too extraordinary to miss, so we climbed aboard (toddler secured cheerfully beside us), and watched the dramatic Chicago skyland unfold before us in the night.
Afterwards we walked the pier, strolled through the Smith Museum of Stained Windows, listened to live entertainment, and saw an awesome fireworks show...all free of charge. For those looking for even more things to do, or who are going to make the pier a two-or-more-day trip, there is the Chicago Children's Museum that is three-floors of hands-on fun; shopping aplenty; an IMAX theater; and right now the richly acclaimed Cirque Shanghai (a contest for two free tickets can be found here) is playing at the pier. There are also various chartered rides that can be taken on cruise ships, including those that serve dinner; or a bona fide pirate's tale adventure can be had on Tall Ship Windy, Chicago's 148-foot four masted gaff topsail schooner.
|Smith Museum of Stained Windows|
I was hoping to make a trip back there this year, but we have too much going on, so I think we're going to miss it this summer. For anyone in the area though, looking for a reasonably-priced outing that is full of family fun, I highly recommend a trip to Chicago's Navy Pier: It's totally worth the hype!