Celebrating 100 Years: What’s New at Chicago’s Navy Pier

Driving toward Navy Pier in Chicago the anticipation grows. Kids can see the giant Ferris wheel from far away and there’s just a buzz of excitement in the air as we got closer. We didn’t even get to a plan because we saw the pizza at the park’s entrance.

The first thing we did was eat, of course. Right at the entrance to Chicago’s Navy Pier was a brand new outlet for the world-famous Chicago pizzeria, Giordano’s. The stuffed pizza was a hit with the kids, the parents and the grandparents. There’s no pizza like a Chicago stuffed pizza.

Chicago Pizza

Giordano’s Pizza

Giordano’s got its start in Italy, of course, where Mama Giordano served her family the double-crusted, cheese stuffed tradition on special occasions. Years later, brothers Efren and Joseph introduced their family recipe to Chicago. They’ve been making pizzas for 40-some years in Chicago.

While we were eating it was easy to sit and look out at the expanse of Navy Pier, one of Chicago’s must-see places. It didn’t take long to have plans to ride the Centennial Wheel and the Pepsi Wave Swinger. They were just too good to pass up.

New Centennial Wheel

New Centennial Wheel

The 200-foot, new Centennial Wheel is 50 feet taller than the Ferris wheel it replaced. The temperature controlled gondolas are smooth, have a historical video in them and provide even those afraid of those kind of rides with a very comfortable experience. The swings and the big wheel were both staffed plentifully with friendly folks and the lines were short for a summer day.

In 2016 Navy Pier celebrates its 100th anniversary. Pier-wide redevelopment resulted in new food courts, shops, rides and other attractions, but still pays homage to the places that made Navy Pier a hit from the start.

Walking Navy Pier

Walking Navy Pier

We ordered cheeseburgers from the Saturday Night Live Famous Billy Goat Tavern (“Cheezborger, cheezborger! No Coke, Pepsi!”), and stopped at a couple other locations in the new food court for some favorites like roasted nuts and pretzels.

The 50-acre park has restaurants, retail, attractions, sightseeing, theatre and dining cruises. Nearby, vendors offer bike rentals and Segway tours.

For more information on taking the family to Navy Pier, visit www.navypier.com.