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Cruise down the Chicago River to see the city's famous architecture on this 75-minute tour. With commentary from your onboard guide, watch the spectacular skyline glide by, including more than 40 notable buildings like the Aon Center, 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).

Highlights

  • Architecture cruise down the historic Chicago River
  • 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 admire world-famous architecture
  • See more than 40 buildings including the John Hancock Center, the Wrigley Building and the Aon Center
  • Discover the major events that helped shape the architectural history of Chicago

Recent Photos of This Tour

What You Can Expect

Chicago Architecture River Cruise

Architecture River Cruise in Chicago

Make your way to either Navy Pier or Michigan Avenue for your cruise departure. Board your river boat and find a comfortable seat on one of the decks; 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 75-minute 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 the Aon Center, the John Hancock Center, the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) the Wrigley Building and the IBM Building. 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. 

Please see the Itinerary section below for a full list of buildings on the tour.

Itinerary

On the Chicago architecture cruise, you will see and learn about the following landmarks:
  • Navy Pier
  • Lake Point Tower
  • Aon Center
  • John Hancock Center
  • Cityfront Center
  • Illinois Center
  • NBC Tower
  • Chicago Tribune Tower
  • London Guarantee Building333 North Michigan Building
  • 401 North Michigan
  • Wrigley Building
  • 35 East Wacker
  • Leo Burnett Building
  • IBM Building
  • Marina City
  • RR Donnelley Center
  • LaSalle-Wacker Building
  • 222 North LaSalle
  • Central Office Building
  • Merchandise Mart
  • 333 West Wacker, Montgomery Ward Complex
  • River Cottages, Merchandise Mart
  • Fulton House
  • 225 West Wacker
  • Boeing World Headquarters
  • Civic Opera Building
  • AT&T Corporate Center
  • USG Building
  • Riverside Plaza
  • Citicorp Center
  • Willis Tower (Sears Tower)
  • Chicago Board of Trade
  • Central US Post Office
  • US Post Office Central Processing and Distribution Center
  • 311 South Wacker
  • River City

Customer Reviews

Stephen L

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2016

The ride was smooth and the host was informative. It gave us a new perspective literally and figuratively on Chicago's skyline. There were plenty of interesting buildings some with historic significance and others with ties to Hollywood films. It provided us with a great opportunity to take photos of buildings that would have otherwise been obscured and seen only by looking up as is the case with street-side walking/bus tours.

We didn't partake in their concessions so we can't comment on that. As a matter of fact, we toured the city on the open deck atop the boat and never even set foot on the lower deck where the concession stand was located. Keep in mind the top deck is open to the elements and you'll need to dress accordingly with hat, sunscreen, scarf, whatever fits the season.

The weather was great, but we did have some noisy neighbors navigating the river nearby, blasting dance music at unfortunate levels. The tour had no control of either, so... no bonus points given, none taken away.

The only issue we had was finding the boarding location. We expected it to be on the pier along with the vessels that give tours of the lake. As it turned out, it was near the city end of the pier where the mouth of the river is located Geez! Why would they put a river cruise near a river - go figure.

Anyway, It was a very relaxing experience, which was a relief after a busy drive into the city, parking the car and walking along the pier. Indoor parking on the pier is available if that's what you desire. With regards to seating on the boat it's first come first served, so get in line early to guarantee you and your guests can sit together and have a good view of Chicago's architecture especially if you're taking photos.

if we're ever in Chicago again, we may retake this cruise. I spent so much time taking pictures that I didn't hear half of what was being said. My better half did listen, so I guess she's got the job of captioning our photos.

Ioanna P

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2016

best river cruise ever!

Joe S

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2016

beautiful day.....entertaining hostess......stellar architecture!! Great experience!!!

Meghan S

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2016

Wonderful!

Christine S

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2016

Wonderful wonderful wonderful!!! We live in the suburbs and recommend this to all our visiting friends and try to do ourselves every year!

Phil P

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2016

Great tour. Richey the bartender made a cool drink to help a thirsty fellow on a beautiful sunny day!

Sandra W

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2016

Highly recommended, great way to learn history while enjoying the scenery.

moodyhello

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2016

The commentator was very informative.

Pedro A

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2016

The tour was great! The crew was professional. Ben was our tour guide, he was very knowledgeable and entertaining. This was our first tour despite living in the Chicago area our entire lives. I highly recommend this tour if visiting or your a local, the sunset tour was tremendous visually.

Carol Rippner R

5 star rating: Highly Recommended August 2016

wonderful

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