Top things to do at Navy Pier this summer

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Stretching more than 3,000 feet into Lake Michigan, Navy Pier is one of the Midwest’s top destinations for stunning skyline views, family-friendly attractions, cultural activities, waterfront dining, and beyond.

While locals and visitors alike flock to the Pier all year long, summer happens to be one of the best times to visit — it’s when Navy Pier comes to life with stunning fireworks shows, lakefront boat cruises, outdoor music and movie screenings, and so much more.

Here’s our guide to summer fun on Navy Pier this year.

Play a round of mini-golf at the new Pixar Putt

Popping up on the Pier this summer, Pixar Putt is an open-air mini-golf experience with 18 fun and interactive holes inspired by Disney and Pixar’s most beloved characters from Toy Story, The Incredibles, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, Coco, and more. The course is open seven days a week through Aug. 21, 2022. Tickets must be purchased online.

Catch the dazzling fireworks show

NYE Fireworks at Navy Pier

Navy Pier’s signature fireworks light up the sky twice a week for a ten-minute spectacle starting at 9:30 pm on Wednesdays and 10:15 pm on Saturdays. Find a spot along Navy Pier or at the parks near the entrance to watch the fireworks. Check the schedule for the full summer fireworks dates and times.

Celebrate the Year of Chicago Dance

It’s the Year of Chicago Dance, and Navy Pier is getting in on the celebration. Wave Wall Moves is a weekly showcase that shines the spotlight on Chicago’s wide variety of dance companies, ensembles, and choreographers. Catch the show every Saturday through Aug. 27, 2022. And keep an eye out for other free dance performances, like pop-ups from the Joffrey Ballet.

Sip cocktails at Offshore, the country’s largest rooftop bar

Offshore at Navy Pier
Photo by Heidi Harris

Offshore Chicago, is the largest rooftop bar in the country. From its perch on the third-floor rooftop of Navy Pier, Offshore’s massive terrace features multiple firepits, live entertainment, handcrafted cocktails, and unparalleled, panoramic views of the city. 

Catch a show at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre

Chicago Shakespeare Theater is a globally recognized theatrical force, known for vibrant and original productions dedicated to Shakespeare and his contemporaries. This summer, catch It Came From Outer Space, a musical comedy adapted from the ’50s sci-fi film. See this new spin on Ray Bradbury’s classic tale now through July 24, 2022.

Cruise around Lake Michigan

Navy Pier is surrounded by the blue waters of Lake Michigan, and you’ll find a huge variety of boat cruises setting sail from Navy Pier. Choose from informational architecture tours, elegant dinner cruises, exhilarating speed boat rides, and so much more. All cruise experiences A boat cruise is also one of the best ways to catch the evening fireworks show, so look for special nighttime departures. Check out all of Navy Pier’s boat cruises.

Enjoy free fun all summer long

Water Flicks at Navy Pier
Water Flicks at Navy Pier

Summer means (free!) on the Pier. Whether it’s a yoga class with waterfront views or an evening of reggae under the stars, there’s something for everyone this summer. Check out the Navy Pier events calendar for details.  

This year’s highlights include:

  • Water Flicks: (Mondays through Aug. 29): Navy Pier’s popular outdoor film series Water Flicks returns with a special series of movies focused on families.
  • Live on the Lake! (Saturdays and Sundays through Sept. 4): Navy Pier’s summer weekend music series returns with live performances by both local bands and national acts in the Navy Pier Beer Garden. 
  • Skyline Sessions (Thursdays and Fridays through Aug. 26): This outdoor concert series features two different live acts every Thursday and Friday.
  • Pier Fitness (Tuesdays through Aug. 30): Get your workout in with outdoor cardio workouts followed by yoga training taught by professional fitness instructors.
  • LatiNxt (Aug. 6 – Sunday, Aug. 7): Navy Pier’s fourth annual celebration of the cultural diaspora highlights Chicago’s Latin music artists with performances in the Navy Pier Beer Garden, on the Wave Wall Platform, and on the Lake Stage in Polk Bros Park.

Take a whirl on the Centennial Wheel

An aerial view of Navy Pier and the iconic Ferris wheel on Chicago's lakefrontThe first Ferris Wheel was created in Chicago during the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. Navy Pier’s Centennial Wheel honors that Chicago-made innovation. Soaring nearly 200 feet into the sky, the newly revamped wheel features enclosed, climate-controlled gondolas, so guests can enjoy rides year-round. Take a whirl on the wheel for a birds-eye view of the city skyline and Lake Michigan.

Little ones will also want to take a spin on Navy Pier’s carnival rides, like the historic carousel and the Wave Swinger.  

Taste the flavors of Chicago

Miller Lite Beer Garden at Navy Pier
Miller Lite Beer Garden at Navy Pier ©Ranvestel Photographic

 From the Billy Goat Tavern’s famous ‘cheezeborgers’ to Giordano’s delectable deep dish pizza, Navy Pier serves up authentic Chicago food with the bonus of a beautiful lakefront backdrop. 

Lirica features Latin-inspired cuisine, an expansive bar, and spacious outdoor seating with waterfront vistas. Harry’s Caray’s Tavern is known for its smoked barbecue paired with local craft beer. Bite into a classic Chicago-style hot dog at America’s Dog and Burger. Save room for a whopping five-scoop ice cream cone at Original Rainbow Cone. Check out more dining options on the Pier.

For more information on Navy Pier, including updated event listings for the summer 2022 season, visit

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