By John Dodge
CHICAGO (CBS) — As with many tourist destinations, the locals swear that they avoid them at all costs.
In Chicago, that may or may not be true with Navy Pier, but one thing is clear: The world loves it.
The Pier, with its kitschy little shops, restaurants/bars, giant Ferris Wheel, tour boats, IMAX movies, and Shakespeare theater, ranks No. 26 among the 50 most-popular tourist destinations in the world.
The list is based on number of visitors to the attraction. State tourism officials say 9.2 million people visit the pier each year, most of them between April and December.
The pier is set to undergo a major renovation that is expected to be completed in 2015. One of the main goals is to add more green space and cut back on the clutter.
Navy Pier beat out cultural wonders like the individual Smithsonian Museums in Washington. It also tops the Great Wall in China. It tied with the Louvre.
The top five are:
Las Vegas Strip 39.6 million (the Smithsonian Museums aren’t combined, but the Strip is.)
Times Square, New York City, 39.2 million
Central Park, New York City, 37.5 million
Union Station, Washington D.C. 32.85 million
Niagara Falls, New York 22.5 million
Union Station, which is stunning piece of architecture, seems like the biggest surprise in the top five.
Nine of the top 10 destinations, compiled by Love Home Swap, which claims itself as the largest vacation home swap club, are located in the United States.