If woolly mammoths had mastered the triple Lutz, they would've made it out of the Ice Age and into the Bronze Age, if not the Silver or Gold Age. Ensure your long-term survival with today's Groupon: for $9, you get one admission to Winter WonderFest at Navy Pier (an $18 value). Choose from 15 available dates.
Winter WonderFest returns to Navy Pier for its ninth season, laying out more than 170,000 square feet of festive indoor family attractions. Navy Pier is set a-twinkle with 25,000 incandescent holiday ornaments and 750,000 sparkling lights, which help illuminate the indoor Ferris wheel, extreme-ice-trail ropes course, or reindeer-express train ride. Visitors can careen around the Chicago Blackhawks indoor ice-skating rink, or set little ones on carousel horse races with promises of real ponies for the victors. Music and live entertainment will be on hand to bolster the festivities. For more information, see the WonderFest FAQ page.
Originally part of architect Daniel Burnham's ambitious "Plan of Chicago" drafted in 1909, Navy Pier was designed to handle both recreational and freight traffic for the burgeoning metropolis. Its role quickly changed when it began serving as a barracks and training facility during two World Wars—it earned its nickname because of the more than 200 planes that littered the lake bottom around the pier, lost during exercises and sunk to intimidate fish with military technology. In the decades that followed, the pier was home to a University of Illinois campus, a convention center, and a venue for citywide festivals before falling into disuse. This ended in 1989, when the state moved to transform the venerable pier into one of Chicago's foremost tourist attractions.
Reopened in 1995, the revamped Navy Pier boasts 50 acres of parks, restaurants, shops, and entertainment, scenically located along Lake Michigan and the mouth of the Chicago River. The pier's most striking denizen is its 150-foot-tall ferris wheel, whose glittering lights slowly rotate above the water and frame a beautiful view of the city's skyscrapers for riders. Other attractions include a towering IMAX screen that shows educational films and Hollywood blockbusters, and the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, which treats audiences to bold stagings of the Bard's greatest hits.