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Chicago River Tours

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2 864 Reviews
Chicago River
Winding its way through the heart of the Windy City, the Chicago River flows past some of the city’s most notable architecture, including the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), Wrigley Building, and Navy Pier. The river also offers opportunities for exploration, such as river cruises, kayaking, and canoeing, along a revamped riverfront.

The Basics
The most popular way to explore the Chicago River is on a cruise, in particular a Chicago architecture river cruise, which offers an overview of the city’s history and building architecture. You can combine your cruise with a Chicago city tour, food tour, South Side tour, speedboat ride along Lake Michigan, or VIP access to the Willis Tower. Kayak tours are also popular, including a nighttime ghosts and gangsters tour. 

Things to Know Before You Go
  • River cruises fill up fast in summer, so buy tickets or book a tour well in advance.
  • River cruises depart rain or shine. As weather can change quickly in Chicago, be prepared for rain or temperature fluctuations.
  • No experience is necessary to kayak on the Chicago River; tour guides provide a short lesson before each kayaking tour begins.

How to Get There
Running through the center of downtown Chicago and dividing the Loop from River North, the Chicago River is hard to miss. Most river cruises depart from below the DuSable Bridge at the corner of Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue. If you’re coming via public transportation, take the El to State/Lake. 

When to Get There
The Chicago River is best explored during late spring, summer, and early fall, as most river cruises don’t operate during winter. The Chicago River is famously dyed bright green for St. Patrick’s Day, an event that traditionally takes place on the Saturday before March 17. If you are visiting on a Wednesday or Saturday during summer, book a fireworks cruise to enjoy fireworks over Navy Pier.

Chicago Architecture Highlights
Exploring the Chicago River is largely about appreciating Chicago architecture. On the main branch of the river, look for the Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower, the corncob towers of Marina City, and the Merchandise Mart, once the largest building in the world. On the south branch, the highlight is the Willis Tower, which was the tallest building in the world when it was completed as the Sears Tower in 1973.
Address: The Loop, Chicago, USA
Hours: Open daily
Admission: Free
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33 Tours and Activities to Experience Chicago River

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Chicago Architecture River Cruise

Chicago Architecture River Cruise

star-5
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).
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  • 1 hour
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$38,85
From
US$38,85
Taking safety measures

Chicago Lake and River Architecture Tour

Chicago Lake and River Architecture Tour

star-4.5
Step aboard a boat for a comprehensive cruise that details the history of Chicago's architecture. Enjoy views of the Chicago skyline accompanied by architecture-focused commentary that points out each of the landmark buildings. As you cruise through Lake Michigan, snap photos of you and your party against the stretch of Chicago's 26-mile shoreline.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$39,00
From
US$39,00
Taking safety measures

45-min Chicago River Architecture Tour

45-min Chicago River Architecture Tour

star-4.5
Get a front row perspective on the exquisite buildings that line the Chicago River during a 45-minute architecture cruise. Hear live commentary about the history and architectural heritage of Chicago on this family-friendly tour, which highlights landmarks such as the Chicago Riverwalk, Michigan Avenue Bridge, Wrigley Building, and Willis Tower. Sit on the open-air top deck or the sheltered bottom deck for the ultimate view of Chicago.
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  • 45 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$23,00
From
US$23,00
Taking safety measures

Chicago River Boat Architecture Tour

Chicago River Boat Architecture Tour

star-5
Welcome to Chicago River Boat Architecture Tours! We’re proud to present you with an in-depth, expert architectural-based river boat tour that delves into one of the most remarkable American cities today. Known for unique, daring, and historical architectural pursuits, it’s hard to cover all of the design and building treasures that make up the Windy City today. If you’re ready to learning more about the designs, people, and innovations behind these creations, throw on your captains hat and get ready to cruise along the Chicago River and see what architects from around the world travel to see in Chicago. Tour departures from 465 N. McClurg Ct.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$49,28
From
US$49,28
Taking safety measures

Chicago Architecture Center River Cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady

Chicago Architecture Center River Cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady

star-5
The Chicago Architecture Center River Cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady has long been the gold standard among all Chicago tour experiences, and is the only Chicago architecture boat tour led by highly trained expert docents. On this 90-minute cruise, you will enjoy an overview of historic and modern architectural styles including stories about the people who designed and built Chicago. No visit to Chicago is complete without experiencing this award winning tour, so accept no substitutes.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$53,25
From
US$53,25
Taking safety measures

Big Bus Chicago Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

Big Bus Chicago Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

star-4.5
Don’t spend time figuring out what to see in Chicago and how to get there—this hop-on hop-off tour provides a mapped-out itinerary of the city's top sights. With several strategically located stops, the tour allows you to explore the Windy City at your own pace. See the world-class Art Institute and landmark skyscrapers, while live commentary onboard gives you insight into the city's colorful history.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$29,00
From
US$29,00
Taking safety measures

Chicago in a Day: Food, History and Architecture Combo Tour

Chicago in a Day: Food, History and Architecture Combo Tour

star-5
An excellent choice for first-time visitors, this tour provides a comprehensive overview of the city and hits on both classic attractions and little-known sites. Beginning at the Chicago Theatre, work your way to the Chicago Pedway, an elaborate network of underground tunnels used by locals and commuters. Stroll the Chicago Riverwalk and the Magnificent Mile, then embark on a food tour to taste some of the city’s famous foods.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$102,30
From
US$102,30
Taking safety measures

Chicago Grand Half-Day Bus Tour

Chicago Grand Half-Day Bus Tour

star-3.5
Get the perfect introduction to the wealth of sights in the Windy City during this 4-hour Chicago day tour. Discover the many landmarks spanning both the city's North Side and South Side, enjoying a scenic ride along Lake Michigan on Chicago's Outer Drive along the way. You'll also have the chance to admire the city's Washington and Grant Parks, explore inside the Lincoln Park Conservatory, see Adler Planetarium and visit the iconic Wrigley Building. This Chicago in a half day tour also includes transport between all sites and tour narration.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$52,95
From
US$52,95
Taking safety measures

Chicago Grand Tour and Admission to 360 Chicago (formerly John Hancock Observatory)

Chicago Grand Tour and Admission to 360 Chicago (formerly John Hancock Observatory)

star-3.5
This Chicago grand tour covers four hours of sightseeing with admission to 360 Chicago (John Hancock Observatory). Get oriented to the Windy City on a coach tour that takes you along a scenic route on Lake Shore Drive, and past North Side and South Side highlights including Museum Campus, Lincoln Park, Washington Park, Grant Park and Wrigley Field. Finish on the 94th floor of the Hancock Center, one of Chicago's tallest landmarks, for panoramic views of the Magnificent Mile from the open-air observation deck.
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  • 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$73,95
From
US$73,95
Taking safety measures

Land and River Architecture Tour of Chicago's Scenic North Side

Land and River Architecture Tour of Chicago's Scenic North Side

star-4.5
Discover Chicago’s iconic architectural gems from every angle on a 3.5-hour tour of the North Side. Divided between land and water, the comprehensive tour enables you to cover a huge area of the city without getting worn out. Travel comfortably by coach or trolley to Fort Dearborn, Wrigley Building, and more. Afterwards, see the Windy City's famous skyscrapers, bridges, and historical sites on a 90-minute cruise down Chicago River.
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  • 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$76,95
From
US$76,95
Taking safety measures

Chicago Walking Tour: Modern Architecture

Chicago Walking Tour: Modern Architecture

star-5
Embark on a walking tour of Chicago's more-recent architecture heritage with a 2-hour stroll highlighting the city's modern, postmodern, and international structures. Especially known for its architectural originality, Chi-town boasts everything from the elegant metal and glass tower of One South Dearborn to the Harold Washington Library, with its Beaux-Arts inspired exterior. Your guide will highlight these and other unique buildings, relaying background on their individual histories and construction en route.
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  • 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$26,00
From
US$26,00
Taking safety measures

Best of Chicago: History & Culture Tour with Chocolate and Popcorn

Best of Chicago: History & Culture Tour with Chocolate and Popcorn

star-5
The Windy City is known for its spectacular architecture and eclectic food scene. Experience both on this tour through the downtown that combines sights with nibbles. Take in famous landmarks like the Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower, and Cloud Gate on foot and with the scenic L train or water taxi along the Chicago River. Taste popcorn and chocolate from two beloved city eateries during the tour.
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$50,63
From
US$50,63
Taking safety measures

Lonely Planet Experiences: River North Historical Food Tour

Lonely Planet Experiences: River North Historical Food Tour

star-5
Get to know the food offerings in River North on this small-group walking tour. As you explore, listen to in-depth commentary from your guide on the culinary history of Chicago and the culture of the River North neighborhood. With a small group of just 12 fellow food-lovers, you'll enjoy personalized attention and the chance to chat about your favorite tastings. Samples include the classic Italian beef, a Chicago-style hot dog, and the famous deep dish pizza.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$60,96
From
US$60,96
Taking safety measures

2-Hour Chicago Holiday Lights Segway Tour

2-Hour Chicago Holiday Lights Segway Tour

star-4.5
Soak up the Windy City’s festive holiday feel and explore local landmarks with ease on this Segway tour in Chicago. Hop onto your Segway and spin through Chicago’s Millennium Park to the Loop. With your guide, you'll watch skaters enjoying the ice rink, explore Michigan Avenue and admire festive department store displays. See the German Christmas market stalls at Daley Plaza, where locals sip hot chocolate and munch 'bratwurst,' and enjoy the atmosphere beneath the city’s Christmas tree. Get the personalized feel of a small-group experience.
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  • 2 hours to 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
US$75,10
From
US$75,10

Chicago Insider Segway Tour in Small Group

Chicago Insider Segway Tour in Small Group

star-5
This is a tour like no other! Our newest Segway adventure is completely unique and will cover the good, the bad, the ugly and the totally weird stories of Chicago. We will travel back through the ages as you discover the city through the lens of the Chicago Syndicate, hear the whispers of the city’s elite (or politicians), and be entertained by stories that are rarely told. You’ll think “No, really I never would have known!” Glide around Millennium Park, through the new neighborhood of Lakeshore East, and along the Lakefront as we unveil Chicago’s forgotten past in two hours! Your imagination will come alive as you hear stories of the Chicago Mob, the truth behind the 1968 Democratic National Convention, innovations that changed history, and so much more!
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
From
US$75,58
From
US$75,58

Private Chicago City Mini Bus Tour

Private Chicago City Mini Bus Tour

Don’t miss Chicago’s famous sights (now including Wrigley Field!) and fabulous views on this award-winning private sightseeing tour of the city. Travel through Chicago with an expert guide on a comfortable minibus, stopping at iconic locations like early skyscraper "The Rookery" (Frank Lloyd Wright architecture), Museum Campus (for the BEST skyline view in town), Millennium Park (The Bean), Buckingham Fountain, The Magnificent Mile, Lincoln Park, Chicago River, The Gold Coast, Lake Shore Drive and more! Along the way, your guide will provide historical and informational commentary about the area and its beautiful attractions. Your private tour ensures a more personal experience. If you would like to take the tour at a time other than what is offered, please note in special requests field when booking. The best way to tour at this time! Sanitized vehicles with just your group.
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$250,00
per group
From
US$250,00
per group
Taking safety measures

Scenic Chicago North Side Tour and 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck

Scenic Chicago North Side Tour and 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck

Discover the sights of North Chicago on a 2-hour group walking tour. Offered in the morning and afternoon, select a start time that fits with your schedule. Follow your guide to Millennium Park, Lake Michigan, and more. Feel free to pause for photos and ask questions whenever you like. You also get free admission to the 360 Chicago Observation Deck, which you can use at anytime until 10:30pm.
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  • 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$55,95
From
US$55,95
Taking safety measures

Scenic Chicago North Side Tour and Chicago Style Pizza

Scenic Chicago North Side Tour and Chicago Style Pizza

Get a comprehensive overview of Chicago’s North Side on a 3.5-hour sightseeing tour. Home to Wrigley Field, Tribune Tower, and Chicago Water Tower, the vibrant district is not to be missed. Enjoy live narration as you travel along North Lake Shore Drive past Lincoln Park Conservatory and Zoo and much more. After the tour, receive a meal voucher for a personal pizza at the popular Exchequer Restaurant.
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  • 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$56,95
From
US$56,95
Taking safety measures

Chicago Architecture Crash Course Walking Tour

Chicago Architecture Crash Course Walking Tour

star-5
See Chicago from a new perspective with this art- and pop culture-themed architectural walking tour. Follow an informative guide through the city’s streets, from the Michigan Avenue Bridge to the new Maggie Daley Park, while learning about the city’s history, architecture, and the fascinating connections between art history and Chicago architectural styles. Enrich your understanding of this beautiful American city with this fun and affordable outing.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$28,00
From
US$28,00
Taking safety measures

Downtown Chicago Walking Tour

Downtown Chicago Walking Tour

star-5
Downtown Chicago is filled with gems. Some famous, others known only by select locals. Many of these spots are best seen on foot as opposed to a moving vehicle. We'll take you inside several of these architectural masterpieces, to where much of Chicago's real beauty can be seen. We'll also give you time to check out famous public art by the likes of Picasso and Chagall and see the world's very first skyscrapers! All of our tours are led by experienced guide that have been giving quality tours of Chicago since 2005 and have accrued well over 500 five-star reviews. People mostly comment on how our tours are both informative and entertaining. The walk is a little under 2 miles and conducted at a comfortable pace.
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  • 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$35,00
From
US$35,00
Taking safety measures

Chicago City Minibus Tour with Optional Architecture River Cruise

Chicago City Minibus Tour with Optional Architecture River Cruise

star-5
Explore Chicago's iconic landmarks on this sightseeing tour led by an expert guide. Board a comfortable, large-windowed minibus and explore downtown and Northside neighborhoods. You have a chance to get out and visit several locations and hear about the historical and cultural factors that make Chicago unique. Upgrade your tour with a popular open-top boat tour on the Chicago River that focuses on the city's renowned architecture.
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  • 2 to 4 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$43,95
From
US$43,95
Taking safety measures

Chicago River Kayak Tour

Chicago River Kayak Tour

star-4.5
Set your paddle into the Chicago River on a leisurely 2.5-hour kayak tour past the skyscrapers of downtown Chicago. Both novice and experienced kayakers will be at ease on this excursion past sights such as the Civic Opera Building and the Marina City Towers. Hear fascinating tales of the Windy City as you gaze at a stunning architectural landscape from the water, just how the original Chicago natives originally navigated the area!
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
US$66,67
From
US$66,67

Chicago River Ghosts and Gangsters Kayak Tour

Chicago River Ghosts and Gangsters Kayak Tour

star-5
Paddle through Chicago’s wild past on a 2.5-hour small group kayak tour on a river that curls through the heart of the Windy City. Learn to navigate your boat and try out paddling techniques, then get ready to navigate the illuminated downtown section of the river. Hear stories of gangsters and their ghosts as you explore the city’s underbelly alongside your guide, and get a glimpse of the city’s gritty past as you travel along riverbanks lined with iconic skyscrapers and historic sites.
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
From
US$66,67
From
US$66,67

Chicago Highlights Driving Tour: Covid-19 Safe and Private Tour

Chicago Highlights Driving Tour: Covid-19 Safe and Private Tour

star-5
Get an insider’s look at the Windy City’s most iconic monuments during this 3-hour private tour. Travel through Chicago aboard a private vehicle as you discover some of the city’s top neighborhoods, including the Loop, River North, the Magnificent Mile (along Michigan Avenue), Streeterville, the Gold Coast and much more. Your private driver-guide and vehicle, bottled water and round-trip hotel transport are all included.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
US$190,00
Price varies by group size
From
US$190,00
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Frequently Asked Questions

The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What are Chicago River hours of operation?
A:
Chicago River hours of operation: Open daily. Buy tickets in advance on Viator. If you book with Viator, you can cancel at least 24 hours before the start date of your tour for a full refund.
Q:
What's the best way to experience Chicago River?

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