The Great American Lobster Fest

A Chicago Review

Labor Day Weekend is special in my family and not just because it’s the last holiday weekend of the summer.  My brother and sister have back to back birthdays that always occur during Labor Day weekend.  So we try to spend the weekend together as a family.  My mom really pushed for us to check out the Great American Lobster Fest at Navy Pier now in its sixth year.  I was a little skeptical because a lobster fest downtown seems expensive and not very toddler friendly.  We decided that we would go and I’m glad we did.  The Great American Lobster Fest is a traveling festival that occurs in Chicago, Detroit, and Milwaukee.  It bills itself as the Midwest’s largest Lobster and Seafood Festival. 

the great american lobster fest logo

Parking

I would always suggest looking into public transportation for any event in Chicago.  We drove and parked in the garage.  Go all the way down to the last parking lot entrance.  The pier is long, and this will save you a walk.  Expect to pay about $35 to park. 

Lobster Meal Experience

Location

The Great American Lobster Fest is at Navy Pier at the very end of the pier.  An open area with several food vendors.  A sound stage on one end surrounded by ample open seating and a VIP seating section to the side of the stage.  Expect typical Navy Pier crowds.  I was able to easily get around with my stroller.  We were able to get a table, enjoy our food and the band. I know Navy Pier is known as a tourist destination, but it never fails to awe me at how beautiful Chicago really is.

Cost

Free! The festival grounds are open to the public and there is open seating to listen to the bands on the sound stage.  The cost is for the food and that can get pricey.  You can pre-order different meal experiences or buy food tickets.  Tickers are $2 for 1 ticket and most food prices range from 6-12 tickets.  I easily used up about 20 tickets.  I would suggest bringing in your own water as that was 2 tickets. 

Lobster fries
Lobster Fries

Food

Ok this is what you’ve been waiting for.  The food is good but not great.  They offer a Lobster Meal Experience that you can pay for in advance.  It includes a full lobster and traditional sides.  We chose to pass on the Lobster Meal Experience, and I’m glad we did.  Instead we got plenty of lobster goodies such as Loaded Lobster Fries (my absolute favorite!!), Lobster Mac & Cheese, Lobster Taco, Lobster Nachos, and Lobster Roll (my second favorite).  The lines were a little long but moved quick.  Portions were large enough for everyone to have a taste or you can enjoy by yourself and feel satisfied.  There are plenty of non-lobster options also available. 

Lobster roll
Lobster roll

For the Kids

The Great American Lobster Fest is a family friendly event.  I saw some activities like face painting, balloon animals, and a jump activity all at a cost.  Other than that, not much else was geared specifically towards children.  If your child isn’t into lobster spending that type of money on typical fest food might not be worth the cost. 

Lobster Nachos and Lobster Mac & Cheese

Overall Review

The Great American Lobster Fest was a good first-time experience but will not be added to my Chicago must-do’s.  Navy Pier is a great destination for tourist but everything there is so much more expensive then any other place in the city including the Great American Lobster Fest.  The parking and food cost will automatically put it over the budget for most families.  The food was good but other than the Loaded Lobster Fries nothing I would get again.  I’ve had better Lobster Mac & Cheese at local restaurants.  There was nothing specifically geared towards children.  The redeeming quality of the Great American Lobster Fest was the beautiful Chicago view and the awesome band.  Kysia Live Band was performing while we were there, and everyone was up and dancing! I have now added them to my festival band follow list.

Tip

Skip the porta potty (yuck!) and use the bathrooms inside Navy Pier.

Details

Location

Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave. Chicago, IL

Cost

Free Admission

Website

The Great American Lobster Fest

Check out other fun activities at Navy Pier

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