Although the museum is quite a distance from the rest of Chicago's tourist attractions,
the museum is easy enough to reach without a car; your best options are the no. 6 Jeffrey
Express bus and the M etra E lectric train fr om do wntown (the no . 10 bus r uns fr om
downtown to the museum's front entrance in the summer).
57th St. and Lake Shor e Dr. & 800/468-6674 outside the Chicago ar ea, 773/684-1414, or TTY 773/684-
3323. www.msichicago.org. Admission to museum only, $11 adults , $9 seniors , $7 childr en 3-11, fr ee for
children 2 and under. Free admission Mon-Tues mid-Sept to Nov and Jan-Feb. Combination museum and
OMNIMAX Theater $17 adults, $15 seniors, $12 children 3-11, free for children 2 and under on an adult's lap.
Memorial Day to Labor Day Mon-Sat 9:30am-5:30pm; Sun 11am-5:30pm; early Sept to late May Mon-Sat
9:30am-4pm; Sun 11am-4pm. Closed Dec 25. Bus: 6 or M etra Electric to 57th St. and Lake Park Ave.
Navy Pier All ages. After you've spent a couple of fun-filled hours at the Chicago
Children's Museum, check out Navy Pier—Chicago's top tourist attraction. Built during
World War I, this 3,000-foot-long pier has been a ballr oom, a training center for N avy
pilots during World War II, and a satellite campus of the U niversity of Illinois. But any
military aura is long gone, now that the place has been transformed into a bustling tour-
ist mecca. A combination of carniv al, food cour t, and boat dock, the pier makes a fun
place to stroll (if you don't mind crowds). To get the best vie ws of the city, walk all the
way down to the end.
Midway down the pier are the Crystal Gardens, with 70 full-size palm trees, dancing
fountains, and other flora in a glass-enclosed atrium; a carousel and kiddie carnival rides;
and a 15-stor y Ferris wheel, a r eplica of the original that debuted at Chicago 's 1893
World's Fair. The 50 acres of pier and lakefront property also are home to the aforemen-
tioned Chicago Children's Museum (p. 160), a 3-D IMAX theater ( & 312/595-0090 ),
a small ice-skating rink, and the Chicago S hakespeare Theater (p. 259). Naturally, there
are a handful of rather bland shops and pushcart vendors. Dining options include a food
court, an outpost of Lincoln Park's popular Charlie's Ale House, and the white-tablecloth
seafood restaurant Riva. You'll also find a beer garden with live music; Joe's Be-Bop Cafe
& Jazz E mporium, a S outhern-style barbecue r estaurant with liv e music nightly; and
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. & Market, a casual family seafood joint. Summer is one long
party at the pier, with fireworks on Wednesday and Saturday evenings.
The Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows sounds dull, but is actually a remark-
able installation of more than 150 stained-glass windows set in illuminated display cases.
Occupying an 800-foot-long expanse on the ground floor of Navy Pier, the free museum
features works by Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, John LaFarge, and Louis Comfort
Navy Pier schedules a v ariety of conv entions and trade sho ws, including an interna-
tional ar t exposition in M ay, pr o-tennis exhibitions, and a flo wer and gar den sho w.
There's something for everyone, but the commercialism of the place might be too much
for some. In that case, take the 1 / 2 -mile stroll to the end of the pier, east of the ballroom,
where you can find a little respite and enjoy the wind, the waves, and the city view, which
is the real delight of a place like this. Or unwind in Olive Park, a small sylvan haven with
a sliver of beach that lies just to the nor th of Navy Pier.
You'll find, moor ed along the south dock, mor e than half a doz en different sailing
vessels, including a couple of dinner cr uise ships, the pristine white-masted tall ship
Windy (ask about the special “Pirate” sails), and the 70-foot speedboats Seadog I, II, and
III. I n the summer months, water taxis speed betw een Navy P ier and other Chicago
sights. For more specifics on sightseeing and dinner cr uises, see “Lake & River Cruises,”
p. 204. Allow 2 to 3 hours.