Head to Navy Pier for Family Friendly Fun this New Year’s Eve!

Navy Pier is one of Chicago's most family-friendly New Year's Eve destinations!

From indoor rides and an early fireworks show for younger children to teen-friendly movies and entertainment, Navy Pier is one of Chicago’s most family-friendly New Year’s Eve destinations. Some events end early enough to get the kids to bed at a normal hour, while others go a bit later. Here are some ways to wave goodbye to 2011 and say hello to 2012!

Sample a Whole Pier’s Worth of Food: There are lots of family-friendly dining options at Navy Pier, whether you’d like a sit-down meal at one of the Pier’s restaurants, or a snack on the go. For seafood lovers, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. has meals perfect for mom and dad, as well as a special kids menu. Want a bit of entertainment? Try the Billy Goat Tavern on Navy Pier and be serenaded with the comical “Cheezborger Cheezborger Cheezborger” of the cooks working the grill line. Grab a quick bite at America’s Dog, where you can order hot dogs topped with garnishes inspired by different US cities. A slice from Connie’s Pizza or a treat of ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s, are also among the fast dining options at the Navy Pier’s food court.

Head to Winter Wonderfest on New Year’s Eve: Navy Pier’s Winter Wonderfest features 170,000 square feet of rides, inflatable slides and entertainment, and is open on New Year’s Eve.  Bring the entire family to experience the holiday décor, music, the Chicago Blackhawks indoor ice skating rink and plenty of active fun. Admission is free, but activities do require a purchased wristband. Buy passes online for the whole family and skip the lines. The Winter Wonderfest closes at 8pm on New Year’s Eve.

Watch the Fireworks Before Midnight: There’s going to be a party (complete with confetti cannons!) on Navy Pier long before the bell tolls midnight. Families can enjoy free entertainment, as well as a spectacular fireworks display and still have plenty of time to get home and tuck-in at a reasonable hour. An all-ages showcase of dance and live music at the Winter Wonderstage starts at 6pm and culminates at 8:15pm with Family Fireworks outside on Dock Street. See a full list of New Year’s Eve family events, along with start times, here.

Build a Snowfort or Skate in Your Socks at the Chicago Children’s Museum: The Chicago Children’s Museum on Navy Pier is open on New Year’s Eve from 10am-6pm and features interactive exhibits and lots of hands-on activities for your little ones. Looking for something for your kids to do after your big night out? Head back to the museum at noon until 6pm on New Year’s Day for a spell of family fun to start out 2012. Their exhibit “Snow Much Fun” invites kids of all ages to build a snow fort, throw snowballs, dress up a snowman, or skate in their socks on an indoor “ice rink”. Snow Much Fun runs until February 8, 2012. Admission is $12 for children and adults; $11 for seniors; and is free for children under one.

Head to a really big theater: Parents with teenagers can grab tickets to an evening showing of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (PG-13) at the Navy Pier IMAX theatre on New Year’s Eve.  Their latest showing, at 9:45pm, lets out right around midnight, just in time for the Pier’s midnight fireworks.

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