Three reasons to go to Navy Pier second weekend of August

Imagine boarding a square rig warship like the one Commander Oliver Hazard Perry sailed when winning the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.

Board Pride of Baltimore II seen here when it arrives at Navy Pier in Chicago

Board Pride of Baltimore II seen here when it arrives at Navy Pier in Chicago

Or, picture seeing exciting jockeying for position among boats from five countries in Match Races.

Add in a chance to watch amazing Cirque acrobatics on a 1.5 mile pier that once housed World War I regiments and World War II troops from several countries.

The events happen the second weekend in August at Chicago’s Navy Pier, a historic site that is also home to popular restaurants, a large Ferris wheel and other entertainment venues.

Tall Ships

Six tall ships from as far as Baltimore, Erie and Newport Beach and as close as South Haven and Chicago are sailing to Navy Pier for Taste of Tall Ships Aug. 11-14, 2011.

Board or sail out onto Lake Michigan on a Tall Ship the second weekend of August

Board or sail out onto Lake Michigan on a Tall Ship the second weekend of August

Two of them – Perry’s Flagship Niagara and the topsail schooner Pride of Baltimore II, will be available for boarding.

Friends Good Will, a square topsail sloop with a South Haven, Mich. port and Lynx, a square topsail schooner from Newport Beach, Calif., plus Chicago-based gaff schooners Windy and Red Witch will take passengers out onto Lake Michigan.

Boarding prices are $9 adults, $6 children. A combo ticket of boarding and three Navy Pier rides are $16 adults and $13 children. Boarding hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 11-13 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 14.

Sail away prices and times vary according to ship and length of sail. Sail-away tickets are also available on “Windy” in combination with boarding “Flagship Niagara” or “Pride of Baltimore II.” More ticket information

Chicago Match Race

At the east end of Navy Pier bleachers will be set up for free viewing of the Chicago Grade 2 Match Race. The competition is America’s Cup style racing to give 10 internationally ranked sailing teams match race practice. Qualifying rounds are Aug. 12 followed by semi-finals Aug. 13 and finals on Aug. 14.

Cirque Shanghai Extreme

Cirque Shanghai Extreme is at the Pier’s Pepsi® Skyline Stage® now until Sept. 5 . Go to the show to see  trapeze artists, aerial acts, motorcycle daredevils and Kung Fu sword fight displays.

More than a mile of attractions has made Navy Pier a top visitor destination in Chicago and Illinois

More than a mile of attractions has made Navy Pier a top visitor destination in Chicago and Illinois

About Navy Pier

Navy Pier was part of famed city planner Daniel Burnham’s 1909 “Master Plan of Chicago.” The 1.5 mile pier was built from 1914 to 1916. Originally called the Municipal Pier, it was renamed Navy Pier in 1927 in tribute to World War I Navy personnel. World War II military pilots trained at the pier as did sailors and technicians. After the war, the University of Illinois had a branch at the pier until 1965. However, the Pier was also designed to include entertainment venues.

Today, visitors can go to a Shakespearean theater, dine at famed Harry Caray’s or Billy Goat Tavern and browse a free stained glass window museum.

Getting there

Navy Pier is at Lake Michigan at the east end of both Illinois Street and Grand Avenue. Parking is available however CTA buses do go there from the Ogilvie Transportation Center (Metra) and Union Station.

Photos are courtesy of Navy Pier

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