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Chicago Architecture River Cruise

Badge of ExcellenceChicago, United States

From US$46.87

Select Date and Travelers

Reserve Now & Pay Later
Secure your spot while staying flexible
Free cancellation
Up to 24 hours in advance.
  • 1 hour (approx.)
  • Mobile ticket
  • Offered in: English


Cruise down the Chicago River to see the city's famous architecture on this boat tour. With commentary from your onboard guide, watch the spectacular skyline glide by, including more than 40 notable buildings like Navy Pier, the Wrigley Building, and the John Hancock Building. Cover all three branches of the Chicago River, passing the East Bank Club, the old Post Office Building and the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower).
  • Discover all three branches of the Chicago River with your guide, an expert in architecture
  • Enjoy the best vantage point to admire the distinct city skyline and architecture
  • See more than 40 buildings including the Wrigley Building and Willis Tower
  • Discover the major events that helped shape the architectural history of Chicago

Why Travelers Choose This Tour

This ultra-flexible cruise runs more than 20 times daily from Navy Pier and Michigan Avenue.
Operated by:

What's Included

  • Guided architecture cruise of the historic Chicago River
  • Live commentary on board
  • Drinks (available for purchase)

Meeting And Pickup

Meeting points

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End point

This activity ends back at the meeting point.

What To Expect

Make your way to either Navy Pier or Michigan Avenue (depending on option chosen) for your cruise departure. Board your riverboat and find a comfortable seat; a restroom and sometimes a full bar are available on the boat. Listen as your guide, an architecture expert, gives you an introduction to the city's landmarks. 

Along the scenic route, see buildings by world-famous architects including Mies van der Rohe, Helmut Jahn, and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. A boat on the river is the best vantage point to admire the distinct city skyline.

Pass by more than 40 distinctive buildings, including the John Hancock Center, the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower), the Wrigley Building, and the Lyric Opera House. Listen as your guide recounts the two major events that helped shape the architectural history of the city. Learn about how the invention of balloon-frame construction revolutionized how homes were built, and hear the dramatic story of Chicago's rise from the Great Fire of 1871. Both of these milestones led Chicago to become one of the cradles of modern American architecture.

Your cruise ends at its starting point.

Chicago River

Cruise takes place on the Chicago River.

1 hour Admission Ticket Free

Chicago Skyline (Pass By)

Enjoy an amazing view of the city's skyline.

Additional Info

  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • All boats have full restrooms and some have a full bar
  • Some boats are single deck vessels, the type of vessel you are placed on cannot be guaranteed
  • Wheelchairs or other walking assistance equipment are not provided.
  • Tour times cannot be changed.
  • Near public transportation
  • Departure locations cannot be changed
  • Most travelers can participate
  • Beginning November 8, 2022 through April 2023, tours will be 60 minutes in length.
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 250 travelers

Cancellation Policy

You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance of the experience for a full refund.

  • For a full refund, you must cancel at least 24 hours before the experience’s start time.
  • If you cancel less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time, the amount you paid will not be refunded.
  • Any changes made less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
  • Cut-off times are based on the experience’s local time.
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund.

about cancellations.

Traveler Photos

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Traveler Tips

Most of the boat is exposed, so make sure to wear appropriate attire in the case of rain or direct sunlight.
There are 2 departure piers (East Michigan and East Grand) so make sure that you’re at the right place.
9,672 reviews
Total review count and overall rating based on Viator and Tripadvisor reviews
Reviews by Viator travelers.
Showing 1-10 of 9,672 reviews
Must see in Chicago
Danielle_A, Jan 2023
Definitely recommend! It’s the history lesson you didn’t know you needed. Would do it again since there’s so much cool information.
No show boat tour
Jeff_K, Jan 2023
We signed up for and paid viator for a boat tour in Chicago. Apparently they sold us a ticket for the day after the season ended. We showed up, there was nobody there and the place looked shut down. Called the operator- no answer. Called viator customer service, they couldn’t reach the operator. When I asked who would be sending my refund was told only they would be looking in to it. Haven’t heard anything since.
1 traveler found this review helpful
The docent was amazing,...
Anne_D, Jan 2023
The docent was amazing, he really made the tour and knew SO much!! I wish I could have a recording of his talk since it was packed with interesting information!😊
Great experience
Eric_B, Jan 2023
Great experience. Kevin was a great guide! We really enjoyed seeing Chicago from a different perspective. Changed how we look at Chicago!
It was awesome
Victoria_E, Jan 2023
The narrator was excellent. He did a great job. There are really some awesome views and love the architecture there, too
boat tour
Dan_F, Jan 2023
meeting place was not clear. groupon said navy pier but then we had to take a water taxi to michigan avenue
Perfect Tour!
Debby_F, Jan 2023
Great tour with a very knowledgeable guide! Definitely recommend this company! The information that was provided was very accurate!
So much info packed into...
Alexander_B, Jan 2023
So much info packed into a one hour tour. We loved the tour guide and he graciously chatted with us afterward. The boat is open air, so dress accordingly.
I waited too long to do this great affordable tour!
Renee_O, Dec 2022
Wonderful smooth ride, amazing views from the water, entertaining guide and stories and history plus a little live blues harmonica!
Hailey_H, Dec 2022
The narrator Jim was amazing! He was very attentive and knowledgeable of our entire trip! He pinpointed the beauty of this city and face fantastic recommendations
Could have been better
RAJ_I, Dec 2022
I am disappointed since the trip ended so soon and they did not take us to the third branch of the river and the Michigan lake, but there is another boatride that costs $42 and travels for 90 minutes across all branches of the river.
The guide was...
Janice_L, Dec 2022
The guide was entertaining and knowledgeable. The biggest takeaway was the architecture itself. The variety was stunning.
A MUST when visiting the Windy City!
Sganarelle_V, Dec 2022
Fantastic and educational tour! A MUST when visiting Chicago. If you’ll do one thing in Chicago, this is it. Jim was a great and “nerdy” (in a good way :)) guide! Thank you, Jim.
Great River Experience
Alonso_E, Dec 2022
The River Ctuise ws great. The speaker was very detailed regsrding time frames of buildings going up and the rebuild after the great Chicago fire. Thankyou, it was an amazing experience. The only one suggestion is to all know to bundle up due to weather changes. We were bundled up and it as great. Thankyou again
Freezing, Windy Rain
Alisa_C, Dec 2022
It was freezing rain and snow with high winds. At one point the boat hit the side of the river from the wind. They should not have gone out and it took all joy out of the experience.
Ashley was great!
Colleen_M, Dec 2022
All around terrific experience. Fun hour seeing the city views from the river. Ashley, the tour guide was so funny (and punny!) The bartenders and other staff were very friendly. Would highly recommend.
Great Experience
neo_h, Dec 2022
The entire experience was great! First our flight was delayed 2 hours. I emailed the company and by the time we landed they had responded with a new time. I called and the agent was very accommodating to reschedule us for the next time slot. Once we arrived we went to wrong entrance, so I had to call as we were running to the next bridge entrance and AGAIN they waited!!!!! The tour was very informative. Howard was great with explaining the significance of each bldg and answered all questions asked! Highly recommend this tour to learn some history of Chicago in 60 minutes.
Best hour you can spend.
Mark_L, Dec 2022
Jim was a fantastic tour guide. Super knowledgeable and funny. I have a new appreciation for Chicago.
A Must-Do Activity!
Kathryn_K, Dec 2022
This was a highlight of our trip to Chicago. It was a "must-do" for anyone visiting. It was recommended by many people and did not disappoint!
City from the water
Kerry_M, Dec 2022
Great talk about city architecture along the Chicago River. Guide was engaging and funny. Beautiful views.


Product code: 5580ARC