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Chicago Sights to See - Navy Pier

Whether you want to ride a ferris wheel or lean toward seeing some Shakespeare, Navy Pier in Chicago has every kind of enjoyment you can imagine. Open to the public since 1916, the area was revitalized in 1995. Ever since, it has attracted visitors from all over the world - over 8 million in 2005 alone.

Don't worry about crowds, though. There's so much to do and see at Navy Pier, that lines are rarely a problem. There is a dock with ships to see and restaurants to sample, just like Pier 39 in San Francisco. Or you can just sit and enjoy the fountain at Gateway Park, with 240 jets, all computer synchronized.

The Ferris Wheel is modeled after the world's first, constructed for the 1893 World Columbian Exposition. Forty-four feet high, with 36 hand-painted animals, it's a delight for kids and adults alike. You'll get a great view of the Skyline Stage, a 100-foot high roof structure used as an ice skating rink in winter and a 1,500-seat outdoor theatre during the summer.

If it's theater you're after, though, don't miss the seven-story Shakespeare Theater. With 525 seats that rarely go empty, you'll find a show of the type that has pleased audiences for over 400 years.

Navy Pier has an IMAX theater too, of course, for those who like their entertainment fully modern. With the giant 6-story screen, featuring scenes of enormous volcanoes, waterfalls and dozens of special films, you'll sometimes wish it weren't so lifelike!

Come visit the Smith Stained Glass Museum and get a look at these multi-colored wonders. You'll see designs like no others anywhere. Gothic cathedral through modern portrait, there are 150 different styles. Then trot on over to TransPIERency to pick up a small replica to remind you of your experience.

For the kids, there's plenty to do and see at the Chicago Children's Museum, conveniently located at Navy Pier, where everything is oriented toward the curiosity of the younger crowd. Treehouse trails and canoes rafting down a pretend river will keep them delightfully occupied.

Shopping at Navy Pier is in never-ending supply of fun and opportunities. You can attend a Build-A-Bear Workshop right at the Pier, and design your own stuffed animal. Or head to Sitara to pick out some Indian clothing or handmade crafts from Bali.

You'll be hungry by now, so stop in at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., named after the fictional character's business. Offering more than just crustaceans, the menu includes baby back ribs and lots more. If you like your southern food with a little jazz, try Joe's Be-Bop Cafe and get some jambalaya and ribs.

Try the Billy Goat Tavern for one of the best cheeseburgers in the city. Or, go to RIVA for a more chic atmosphere with great steak, pasta and seafood.

Click here for more restaurants at Navy Pier Chicago.

Not far away is the famed Hancock Tower and many other attractions, so be prepared for a long day of great entertainment.

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Page Updated 3:14 PM Thursday 10/18/2012