Navy Peer is one of those places that is apparently a “must see” in Chicago, IL. I have never been good with the “Must See” places. I have been to Chicago many times. We have even been there since having kids but I had never been to Navy Peer. On our last trip we decided to go and see what all the hype was about. We parked in a lot downtown and walked through the tunnel over to Navy Peer. We planned to have dinner in downtown so we were walking regardless. The lot parking at the end of the Grand/Ohio block at Columbus was the cheapest option we found that was central to our plans.
Navy Peer is Chicago’s answer to New York City’s Coney Island. There are lights, noise, and vendors everywhere you turn. Inside the main building are tons of souvenir stops. I’m not a souvenir fan. I am more than happy with photographs and a memory. Ivy, my 10 year old, collects the smashed pennies from places we go. She used to ask for all kinds of odd things until she realized how much space they take up. I did not notice a penny machine here but I honestly did not really look for one. We walked past a food court area and out the door to the real excitement. There are many small rides outside but Navy Peer is known for their large Farris wheel that overlooks the city skyline. We got there right at the start of sunset. We bought our tickets and jumped on literally! The Farris wheel never stops. You have to get on and off while it is still moving. It does not go fast but getting on and off with a toddler on your hip is a feat! The ride lasts 7 minutes. The views are great but the wind coming off the lake at the top almost froze us. I understand that between the wind and the safety risk that they had to enclose the seating baskets with safety glass but it does really obstruct the view. If you lean forward and take photos out of the opening above the small doors they turn out much better.
Upon exiting the Farris wheel we picked back up the stroller from the stroller parking area. This is just a parking spot for strollers that you leave at your own risk. If you intend to visit Chicago or any major city consider bringing a bike lock for your stroller. It is astonishing how fast those things can disappear. Thankfully, we did not have any problems but we had our “travel” stroller. It is an older, light weight, fixed front wheel jogger. It has been used and abused…lovingly of course! After picking up the stroller and getting Bella situated we started walking back toward the main entrance. A couple were getting wedding photo’s on the main sidewalk stairs. They were trying to get the Farris wheel as the back drop. We cut down one of the small sidewalks that come off the main one. That’s when I got this great photo-
We strolled along people watching and checking out the skyline as dusk settled in around us. Ivy stopped to use one of those binoculars that you put a quarter in. As it began to get darker we decided it was time to start heading back to downtown. As we were walking back toward the main sidewalk I caught something moving out of the corner of my eye in the bushes ahead of us. I came to an abrupt halt just in time for a rat to run out on the sidewalk right in front of us! This rat was almost as big as a standard house cat! I was completely in shock. I just stood there. I kept asking, “Do you see that?” Ivy would answer, “Yeah, Do you?” Michael, being the oblivious man he is, says, “What?” and looks around. The rat ran into the bush opposite. I said, “You did not see that giant rat?” He said, “No, I was looking at that boat over there.” I couldn’t help but laugh. He is insane about boats. He loves them the way I love shoes. If there had been a pair of great shoes there I still think I would have saw the rat. Maybe that’s the difference between men and women, lol. After the rat adventure we were ready to go. We walked out the gates and across the street to the lawn area with art in it. I have no idea what this area was actually called but a painting caught my eye. It effectively pulled me in when leaving Navy Peer. I will leave this entry with it as well.
Location: Navy Peer – Downtown Chicago
Cost: Free to Enter, Ride Prices Vary, Farris Wheel – $6 each (Bella was free)
What to do: Ride the Farris Wheel, Enjoy the Sites, See the Art Across the Road, and Giggle at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Factory Restaurant