It’s hard to count the many things you can do at Navy Pier. Jutting some 3,300 feet into Lake Michigan, this Chicago landmark offers 50 acres of shopping, dining, cultural activities and other attractions as well—all in a festival-like atmosphere, complete with carousel and Ferris wheel. Considering the opportunities for fun, it’s no surprise that at peak times, Navy Pier parking can be brutal—unless you know where to look.
First, there are the parking garages at Navy Pier itself—about 1,500 spaces worth in two of them. If you are planning to be at Navy Pier before 9 a.m.—even on the busiest days, you should be able to get a parking spot there without much trouble. While these lots are slightly less expensive than surrounding options, you can end up paying for that convenience at the end of the day. Beginning Memorial Day and running through the summer, Navy Pier has a fireworks display every Wednesday and Saturday evening.
On a busy day in the summer or during special events like the Chicago Air and Water Show, while the Navy Pier parking garages are very convenient, you may want to consider some of the wonderful overflow parking options a short walk away. On those special event days, 1,500 spaces are not nearly enough to accommodate all of the cars. As you drive down Illinois Street or Lake Shore Drive headed to Navy Pier, you may see signs warning that Navy Pier parking is full. If you see these signs, it would be a good idea to head straight for the overflow lots.
Even if the Navy Pier parking lots are full, there is ample parking up and down the Illinois Street and Grand Avenue corridors, and there’s a free trolley service running in a continuous loop to convey you to the Pier. Waits are usually no more than 10 or 15 minutes even on a busy day.