Navy Pier Attractions and Rides - Chicago Children's Museum (and Navy Pier)

Navy Pier is best known for its Ferris wheel, which goes nearly 200 feet into the air. If you haven’t visited since 2016, this is a brand new, larger and more comfortable wheel. The new gondolas are fully enclosed, heated/air conditioned, and bigger, fitting 8 people. One ride costs $18 ($15 for kids ages 3-11) and you get three times around on the wheel, for a total of about 13 minutes. Getting everyone on and off slows down the equivalent of one full loop, but the other two will be non-stop.

Other attractions on Navy Pier include the “wave swinger” (seats hanging from cables that spin around a large core), a climbing wall, a carousel, and a light tower ride (aimed at kids, this has seats that move fairly slowly up and down a short lighthouse).

You can avoid the lines for the ticket booths by buying online, even if you're already at Navy Pier. Go to the Navy Pier tickets page and choose "All Pier Attractions" for a full list of ticket options. When you finish your order, you'll just need to wait a minute or so to receive a text with a link to your tickets. If the line for the wheel itself is long, you can choose the "fast pass" tickets (an extra $10 each) and skip the line.

See More Information to learn more about the other rides


Among the other attractions, the Wave Swinger and Climbing Wall are the next most popular. Both require the rider to be 48 inches tall, and cost $8 each.

The carousel states a minimum height of 42 inches, but that’s just to ride unaccompanied—kids of any size may ride with a paying adult. All the animals along the outside do not go up and down, so it’s a good ride to start with for less adventurous kids.

The light tower is pretty lackluster, but may do for kids who want a little adrenaline but aren’t big enough for other rides. Kids need to be 36 inches tall and tickets cost just $5. The ride is slow and I think most kids would often prefer to go on the Ferris wheel, but it may be worth a try.

For a special occasion, there is a VIP gondola on the Ferris wheel which has nicer seats and a glass bottom, though it only seats 4. Go to the Navy Pier tickets page and choose VIP Private Gondola. $99 buys all 4 seats.