Best Boat Tours In Chicago Worth Your Money
If you are looking for the best boat tours in Chicago, Illinois, there are a ton of options!
With the Chicago River carving its way through the city and Lake Michigan forming one border, there is plenty of water to explore in this amazing Midwest city.
Taking a boat cruise is one of the top things to do in Chicago because it allows you to see the city from a new perspective.
As you cruise through the water, you can enjoy an architecture tour, a delicious meal, a beautiful sunset, or even a fun fireworks display.
With so many different options for Chicago boat tours, you can try a different one each time you visit!
If you visit Chicago during St. Patricks Day, you can even see the river when it is dyed green!
If you are looking for a cheaper Chicago boat ride, you can buy a ticket for the Chicago Water Taxi. This public Chicago ferry runs from May through September.
Now, lets look at some of the best Chicago boat cruises!
Chicago Seadog Speedboat Fireworks Cruise On Lake Michigan
Another cool way to see the fireworks from the water is aboard a speedboat!
The Chicago Seadog Speedboat Fireworks Cruise on Lake Michigan is a 60-minute boat ride popular among tourists.
Whether you are traveling with family or friends, this is a fun experience you will not soon forget!
As you speed through the lake in the open-air boat, you will have one of the best views of the Navy Pier fireworks show.
Be prepared for the possibility of getting wet from the spray as the boat zooms through the water.
The tour is also narrated by a lively guide that will make the citys history interesting.
This is truly one of the best things to do in the summer in Chicago!
Youll Hear Lots Of Names Of Famous People And Businesses
Donald Trump, Groupon, Apple, William Wrigley Jr., Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Oprah Winfrey, IBM, and Betrand Goldberg are just a few of the recognizable names youll hear during the tour.
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Your Guide To Chicago Lake And River Cruises
One of the best ways to see Chicago is from the water. The city is home to two stunning waterfronts the Chicago River and Lake Michigan and each offers plenty of cruise options. Admire the skyline on a lakefront cruise, learn about the citys iconic architecture on a Chicago River cruise, enjoy dinner and dancing aboard an all-glass vessel, sip cocktails on a tiki-themed boat, paddle your own kayak the options are truly endless. Heres your guide to Chicago lake and river cruises, boat tours, dinner cruises, and beyond.
Entertain The Family With Wendella Boats
For three generations, Wendella has been cruising the Chicago water waters. With its variety of tour options, cruise times and lengths, and a heated, enclosed cabin, Wendella is a great choice for families looking for flexibility. They offer a variety of cruise options, including lake & river architecture, sunset cruises, and more.
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Best Chicago Architecture Boat Tours
This list counts the best Chicago boat tours, offering night-time excursions for extra romance next to adrenaline-pumping speed tours.
Oh, Chicago the Windy City. Theres hardly a more astounding city in America. As if to say, move over New York, this one comes with mighty landmarks galore.
Among them, the Willis Tower. Once the tallest on the planet, its now a legendary spire on the skyline. Then comes the John Hancock Center with its gleaming, jet-black exterior. Theyre punctuated by the mirror-like tops of the Two Prudential Plaza, the historic locks with equally as historic bridges, and green spaces like Grant Park where fountains babble by statues.
The upshot of all that is Chicago is a doozy for lovers of all things architecture. Whats more, its a town pierced by riverways and hemmed in by the waters of Lake Michigan. Put the two together and viola: Youve got one darn fine medley of boat tours with views of mighty structures.
Spirit Of Chicago Sunset Dinner Cruise With Buffet
Nothing says romance like dinner on the water. But you can take that one step further, by making that water Lake Michigan, and the backdrop the twinkling lights of the legendary city of Chicago.
Cue this three-hour cruise past the landmarks of Navy Pier and Soldier Field. As you go, youll dine on a sumptuous buffet of all-you-can-eat American favorites.
Then the music starts, with a private DJ spinning tunes as you watch the lights and stars come on over the Midwestern skies. Talk about a night to remember
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Chicago Architecture Boat Tour
A 90-minute history tour on the Chicago River from the comfort of an open-deck boat with views of the Civic Opera House, Wrigley Building, Willis Tower and more.
Adult tickets start at $49. Tickets for students under 18, Seniors, Military, Veterans, COVID-19 Healthcare Workers, and First Responders are $25.
For more information click here.
The Best Chicago Architecture Tours
If you looking for great architecture in Chicago tours, you’ve found them here! The city has great options including the best architectural boat tours, helicopter tours, walking tours, and more.
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Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise
If youre looking for a well-informed tour, you cant get much closer to the source than the Chicago Architecture Foundation.
In partnership with Chicagos First Lady Cruises, they offer a 90-minute guided trip down the Chicago River, providing detailed explanations of the construction and history of over 50 significant buildings.
History buffs, locals, and first-time visitors will love hearing how the Second City rose from the ashes to the major city that it is today from volunteer docents demonstrating enthusiastic knowledge and love for their city.
Many visitors recommend taking the Twilight Tour. For a few extra dollars, you will get to see the buildings lit up.
CAF also offers a special tour just for photographers, with three stops and assistance from volunteers to help you best capture the architectural achievements.
Dauer: 90 minutes
- Tour Departure Times vary check the calendar here.
- CAF requires ALL passengers to have a ticket this includes infants and children.
- Missed tours may not be subject to refunds or exchanges on tickets.
- Tours take place rain or shine, but there are climate-controlled, covered areas of the boats lower level.
- Full bar and restrooms available on the boat.
- Boarding begins 15 minutes prior to departure time, and seating is general admission.
Location: GPS: 112 E. Wacker Drive
Conveniently located along Wacker Drive, look for the blue awning at the southeast corner of Michigan Avenue Bridge.
Wendella Boats Chicago River Architecture Tour
Wendella Boats offers a 45-minute or a 90-minute Chicago River architecture tour that delves into 130 years of architectural innovation. Youll explore all three branches of the Chicago River with an expert tour guide on a vessel equipped with libations a-plenty . Passengers are sure to grab some Instagram-worthy shots as they cruise past iconic landmarks like the Chicago Water Tower, Tribune Tower, and Marina City.
To book: From $23, wendellaboats.com
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The 7 Best Chicago Architecture Boat Tours Of 2021
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- Best Year-Round: Chicago River Architecture Cruise Buy Tickets at ViatorLearn about world-famous architects, including Mies van der Rohe, Helmut Jahn and the Skidmore, Owings and Merrill firm.
- Best Night Tour: Chicago Fireworks Architecture Cruise Buy Tickets at ViatorTake in the magical fireworks show while learning about the architecture from the perfect vantage point..
- Best Boat Combo: Architecture Cruise and Speedboat Tour Buy Tickets at ViatorThe tour departs from the Navy Pier, so allow some time to explore the shops and sights.
- Best Short Tour: Lake Michigan Sightseeing Cruise Buy Tickets at ViatorThe 40-minute cruise gives you some fantastic photo opportunities of the city skyline.
Chicago River Architecture Cruise: Skip
A forest of skyscrapers looms high overhead as you hop on a modern cruiser and take the waters of the Chicago River. As you gaze skywards, youll be able to make out some of the most iconic landmarks of the Windy City.
Theres the soaring clock tower of the Wrigley Building, oozing elegant Colonial Revival styles. Theres the gleaming glass outline of the Trump International Hotel. And theres the striking duo that makes up Marina City.
Your jaunt is rendered extra relaxing on account of a barcoded ticket. Thats delivered online and lets you skip the box office queues.
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What To Expect From The Chicago Architecture River Cruise
During the tour, youll learn about over 50 architecturally significant buildings along the waterfront, including buildings by Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, and Mies van der Rohe.
The top of the boat is open-air which gives you a great perspective on the citys amazing skyline.
While youre admiring the citys skyline and riverwalk, youll learn about how the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers actually *reversed* the flow of the river to help with public health and sanitation in the early 1900s. To do this, a series of locks were introduced between the river and Lake Michigan.
Now, instead of the river emptying into the lake, fresh clean water flows from Lake Michigan into downtown Chicago.
Youll also hear about one of the worst U.S. maritime disasters in the United States: the 1915 sinking of the SS Eastland on the Chicago River, right between Clark and Lasalle Streets in downtown. 844 people perished during this tragic accident.
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Chicago Urban Adventure River And Lake Boat Tour
Youll see both of the very different aquatic sides of the Windy City in a single day when riding this Urban Adventure cruise.
First up: The Chicago River. That weaves through a pack of cloud-splintering skyscrapers. One moment the Willis Tower looms above you.
The next, its the bustling Chicago French Market. All the while, you get to enjoy commentary filled with factoids about the history of construction in the USA.
For the grand finale, you burst out onto the waters of Lake Michigan. Looking westwards from there, its possible to see the whole metropolis, sometimes even silhouetted in the water like a mirage.
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Private Architecture Boat Tour Chicago
Come aboard Adelines Sea Moose for one of our private architecture boat tour Chicago to learn all about the stately buildings.
After extreme weather threatened Chicagos water supply in 1885, bold moves were made to avoid another catastrophe. In 1887, the Illinois General Assembly decided to utilize cutting-edge civil engineering to reverse the flow of the Chicago River. Despite sounding unfathomable, taking water from Lake Michigan and directing it into the Mississippi River was actually a viable solution.
This was undoubtedly one of the most daring projects at the time, and its completion had a profound impact on America. Utilizing a series of canal locks and the newly completed Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, the river was reversed in 1900. Through a 156-mile-long system of canals, the Chicago River connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River Basin. This created a path to the Gulf of Mexico, which revolutionized North American trade. In 1999, this system was named Civil Engineering Monument of the Millennium by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Discover The Windy City From The Water
Set Sail on a Premier Charter Cruise
Architecture boat tours are one of the best ways to delve into Chicagos history. Youll see the different art styles on the buildings that line the Chicago Rivers shores while expert guides explain how the city was rebuilt after the 1871 Great Chicago Fire. We offer that cover all three branches of the Chicago River, or you can book a for your event that covers Chicago River and Lake Michigan. Check out our cruises below to learn more.
Chicagos Best 90-Minute Architecture Boat Tour
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Architectural Boat Tours Chicago Il
Near North Side
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Its Fun To Ride A Boat Through Downtown Chicago
The architecture tour is done on a slow-moving boat on smooth water . The river cruise cuts right through the heart of downtown, so there are skyscrapers on either side of you the entire ride.
Even if you tune out the speaker , its a lovely ride. It goes all the way from the edge of Lake Michigan, near Navy Pier, to the near west side of the city.
SheBuysTravel Tip: The temperature can be significantly colder when you get near the lake. Bring a jacket, even if its a warm weather day. This is the Windy City, after all.
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A post shared by Cindy Richards on Jul 12, 2016 at 9:40am PDT
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Lake Michigan Speedboat Ride
Going high speed means youll waltz around the banks of Lake Michigan as the winds of the Windy City zoom on by.
Yessir, theres hardly a wasted moment to be found on this sped-up tour of the Downtown and its various little corners.
Your jaunt begins on Navy Pier, with a modern speedboat that leaves its wake in the water. A montage of Buckingham Fountain, Grant Park, and the beaches of the Near North Side all unfolds over the next 30 minutes or so.
And in the meantime? You just sit back, relax, and enjoy the adrenaline rush!
North Loop And Millennium Park Tour
When most people think of Chicago, images from various films and television shows fill their heads.
Whether its the L train, Millennium Park or Daley Plaza, chances are youve seen this side of the windy city a bit more frequently than some of the places youll visit on our other tours.
Discover how the architecture and development of these locations influenced the overall construction of this city when you take a trip into the past with one of our excellent tour guides!
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Seadog River And Lake Architectural Tour
While Seadog is most well known in the city for their thrill rides .
But, they also offer an architecture tour that combines lake views with your river cruise for an inclusive look at Chicagos skyline innovation and design.
Experienced Seadog patrons encourage you to arrive early with a pre-purchased e-ticket so that you are first in line to sit in the front half of the boat.
Remember to bring sunscreen, and always take the complimentary water offered!
Chicago Riverwalk And History Tour
This tour may not focus exclusively on architecture, but its hard to avoid that subject of conversation when touring any part of the windy city.
After all, there are many buildings that line the waterfront in Chicago, and they all have a story to tell.
Walk along the river and find out how this city was built to complement the waterways with aesthetically pleasing views and impressive use of space.
Learn all about the architects who designed and constructed locations such as The Chicago Theater, The Wrigley Building, and The Chicago Tribune Building.
This tour usually runs in the evening, but we also offer it during the day.
This tour is also popular during the spring and summer months, and thats definitely the best time of year to experience the Riverwalk.
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Family Fun Urban Adventure River And Lake Cruise
Chicagos history is brought to life with fun narration on the 1.5-hour Family Fun Urban Adventure River and Lake Cruise.
You will start the cruise near the historic DuSable Bridge before moving down the river between looming skyscrapers.
Then you will pass through the Chicago Lock and onto Lake Michigan.
From the lake, you will glimpse the Navy Pier, the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse, and the Museum Campus.
Beverages such as soda, wine, and beer are sold onboard.
This boat cruise is one of the best tours in Chicago to check out on your trip.