Best Boat Combo: Architecture Cruise And Speedboat Tour
If you want to combine action and adventure with historical education, consider booking the Architecture Cruise and Speedboat Tour. The 75-minute river and lake cruise begins with a laid-back journey up the river to view landmarks, including the Willis Tower and the Tribune Tower, as an informative guide shares fascinating stories about the history of these icons. After that, board a speedboat for a thrilling ride zipping along the shoreline of Lake Michigan past Grant Park , the Chicago Harbor and the Museum Campus. The tour departs from the Navy Pier, which is an attraction in itself and home to Chicagos famous Centennial Wheelso allow some time to explore the shops and sights.
Chicago Architecture Tour Discounts
The windy city is home to the worlds first skyscraper, so its a pretty popular destination for anyone interested in the history of architecture.
There are currently 5 different ways to save money on an architecture boat tour in Chicago:
- Free for kids
- Discount Sites
- Coupon Codes
Youll enjoy the biggest possible discount by using a tourist pass but depending on when you check discount sites, you may find that they offer similarly excellent deals.
For more details about these services, please read our full post covering Chicago Architecture Tours.
NOTE: Although we will list the most popular tour companies below, there might be a few we miss which are sold at a discount through websites like Groupon and LivingSocial.
If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, we recommend checking these discount sites to find a service that fits your needs and expectations.
SHORELINE ARCHITECTURE CRUISE
This company also provides a cruise covering some of the more notable architectural feats in Chicago.
While you wind your way down the river, you’ll learn about the history of how this city recovered from the Great Fire of 1871 and see both older and newer examples of magnificent architecture.
Discover the role that architects such as Bertrand Goldberg, Jeanne Gang, and Mies van der Rohe played in creating the windy city that exists today.
Duration: 75 minutes
This architectural cruise departs from either the Michigan Avenue or Navy Pier docks.
WENDELLA ARCHITECTURE CRUISE
Chicago Architecture Tours: So Much To See
By boat, bus, bicycle, foot, or even Segway, there is no shortage of ways to experience the country’s most celebrated architectural metro: Chicago, Illinois. Admired for creativity rather than longevitythe Great Chicago Fire in 1871 destroyed a majority of notable buildingseach tour, no matter the means, showcases the character, ingenuity, and groundbreaking methods that make up Chicago’s towering skyline.
The number of companies offering these sought-after tours are ample, but the Windy City’s architectural history is so spectacularly rich, it’s no wonder tourists have many options to choose from. Chicago is known as the birthplace of the Ferris Wheel boasts the tallest building in North America features works from modern and classic architects like Mies van der Rohe, Bertrand Goldberg, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and also has bragging rights as home to the world’s first skyscraper.
One company, however, has made it their mission to inspire people to discover “why design matters,” according to their mission statement, but also help promote and preserve the buildings that make Chicago so notable. The Chicago Architecture Foundation , a nonprofit founded in 1966 by a group of residents determined to preserve the H.H. Richardson Glessner House from being demolished, hosts 85 different types of tours to more than 319,000 guests annually while giving back to preserve and promote the city’s architecture.
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Which Chicago River Tour Is Best
The 7 Best Chicago Boat Tours Tall Ship Windy Lakeside Architectural Sail. Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise . Seadog Cruises Lakefront Speedboat Tour . Urban Kayaks Historic Chicago Tour . Shoreline Sightseeing Classic Lake Tour . Wendella Boats Chicago River Architecture Tour . Mercury Urban Adventure Cruise .
The 7 Best Chicago Architecture Boat Tours Of 2021
Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the bestproducts youcan learn more about ourreview process here.We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
- Best Year-Round: Chicago River Architecture Cruise Buy Tickets at Viator“Learn 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 Viator“Take 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 Viator“The tour departs from the Navy Pier, so allow some time to explore the shops and sights.”
- Best Land and Water: Chicago City Tour with Optional River Cruise Buy Tickets at Viator“Learn about the role the river has played in the citys development and how it structures the skyline..”
- Best Extended Tour: Chicago River Architectural Tour Buy Tickets at Viator“Arrive early to grab a seat on the upper deck because the trip is very popular and the boat can fill up.”
- Best Short Tour: Lake Michigan Sightseeing Cruise Buy Tickets at Viator“The 40-minute cruise gives you some fantastic photo opportunities of the city skyline.”
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Best Chicago Architecture Tour Companies
Some tourists prefer to know about the architecture tour operator before booking their trip.
They have heard orread positive reviews about a tour operator and want to book their tour.
This section details the top five Chicago Architecture boat tour providers Shoreline Sightseeing, Chicago Line Cruises, Wendella Sightseeing, Chicago Architecture Foundation, and Seadog Cruises.
Best Extended Tour: Chicago River Architectural Tour
For an extended version of an architecture cruise at a reasonable price, the Chicago River Architectural Tour runs a full 90 minutes and has a bar on board to boot. Entertaining and educational guides narrate the journey as the boat passes more than 50 landmarks and architectural gems, keeping an eye out for gargoyles and icons from the Neoclassical period to the Art Deco era. The tour runs four times daily from April through November and departs from the Lofts at River East . Non-alcoholic refreshments and cookies are served, but beer and wine are additional. Viator members recommend arriving early to grab a seat on the upper deck because the trip is very popular and the boat can fill up.
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Learn About Our Group Discounts And More
Located Downtown for Your Convenience
Looking for a fun way to go sightseeing with your group? We offer discounts on groups of six or more adults , as well as 40% plus discounts for students, seniors, first responders, military & military families, veterans, COVID-19 heroes, and school groups. Did we mention kids aged 3 and under are also free? Our marina is located in the south loop and is right off the expressway with easy parking options making it easy for you to bring your out-of-town visitors out on the water. Additionally, we are the closest dock to McCormick Place, the main convention center in Chicago, making it easy for business travelers to experience Chicagos famous architecture boat cruise. With the best prices in town and one of the longest architecture tours around, you cant go wrong with Tours & Boats!
Architectural Boat Tour Chicago Coupon
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Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise Aboard Chicago’s First Lady
- Tickets start at $48.18 for daytime river cruiseTickets start at $52.91 for evening cruiseVISIT THE CAC FOR JUST $5 EXTRA!
- Northeast corner of Michigan Ave. and E. Wacker Dr. Look for the blue awning marking the stairway entrance, 112 E. Wacker Dr.
Chicagos First Lady is committed to taking the proper precautions to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its river cruise guests and team, including ensuring that boats are cleaned and sanitized throughout the day and their service. Chicagos First Lady offers restrooms on board each vessel with running water and plenty of soap. Chicagos First Lady continues to follow the recommendations of public health officials and is monitoring the evolving situation. Learn more about the CAC’s Covid-19 safety policies.
#1 boat tour in North America according to USA Today Readers’ Choice 2021 Awards! Looking for the ultimate Chicago architecture experience? Buy a combo ticket for the river cruise AND visit the Chicago Architecture Centeryou’ll save $10!
For more than 25 years, the CAC’s expertly trained docent volunteers have led the river cruise, sharing fascinating stories behind more than 50 buildings along the Chicago River. Hear how Chicago grew from a small settlement into one of the world’s largest cities in less than 100 years. In just 90 minutes, you’ll get the best overview of Chicagos architecture and its history.
Learn what’s new on the River Cruise.
Chicago Sailboat And Kayak Tours
When it comes to rest and relaxation, few boat tours are going to be as inviting as a sailboat. What better place to sail than the Windy City?
Enjoy the sights and sounds as you drift around the Chicago River in comfort.
There are 4 types of discounts available on sailing and kayak adventures in the Chicago area:
- Tourist Pass
- Discount Sites
- Coupon Code
Without question, youll get the best possible deal on this service by using a tourist pass. That said, you may also find a similarly excellent deal on a discount site.
NOTE: This section will list the best sailboat companies below, but there may be a few which are sold at a discount through websites like Groupon and LivingSocial.
If you can’t find what you want here, we recommend checking these discount sites to find a service that fits your expectations.
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Best Land And Water: Chicago City Tour With Optional River Cruise
If you prefer a smaller group size, the Chicago City Tour combines sightseeing in an air-conditioned bus that holds 12 people or less with a peaceful boat ride . The tour begins with a narrated, two-hour ride around the city with a chance to get out and explore a few stops, including the 1888 skyscraper called The Rookery, which is known for its Frank Lloyd Wright-designed lobby. Next up is a 75-minute cruise on an open-top boat to delve even deeper into the citys famous architecture and to learn about the role the river has played in the citys development. Transportation from most area hotels is provided but is not round-trip.
About Tours And Boats
Chicago’s decorated past lives on through captivating stories told by the knowledgeable guides at Tours and Boats. These Windy City experts usher groups of travelers to myriad landmarks while sharing anecdotes that paint a vibrant picture of the city’s history. During the company’s sightseeing river cruises, their boats float by well-known structures such as the Merchandise Mart, Navy Pier and Willis Tower while passengers learn about the city’s famed architecture.
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Our Commitment To Your Touring Experience
We believe that tours should be entertaining, enlightening, informational, and perfectly organized, every single time. A tour shouldnt feel laborious in any way you should feel an effortless inclination to learn more about what we present at your fingertips. With our Chicago architectural tours, thats exactly what we strive to provide, basing each tour from the perspective of an expert with the real-life example in the background.
If youre thinking about booking a tour with us, know that our commitment to flexibility and accessible makes our Chicago Architecture Tours easy and convenient:
- Tours run daily:
- Chicago River Boat Architecture Tour:
- 10 am
- 3 pm *Not Available Friday thru Sunday Summer Months*
- 4 pm
Lunch And Dinner Cruise Discounts
In addition to the various night tours offered on Lake Michigan, youll also find a nice selection of dinner cruises as well.
Instead of focusing on the excitement of a fireworks show, this boat trip is all about enjoying a meal while you drift alongside the city and experience the skyline in style.
There are a total of 3 different ways to save money on lunch and dinner cruises in Chicago:
- Group Rates
- Military Discount
- Free Drink
Although the discounts available for these services arent always big, even 10% – 20% off a cruise that costs $100 on average is going to be a pretty good deal.
Its also worth noting that the free drink offer from each cruise company is likely one of the easiest discounts to enjoy.
NOTE: This section lists the most popular dinner cruise companies, but there might be a few we miss which are sold through websites like Groupon and LivingSocial.
If you can’t find exactly what you need here, we recommend checking these discount sites to find a service that fits your expectations.
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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 Chicago’s 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.
Duration: 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.
Shoreline Sightseeing Classic Lake Tour
Shoreline has been offering tours since 1939, and their experience shows. We highly recommend this guided, historic sightseeing tour on Lake Michigan.
You can bet that your guide will have more than a few jokes as they describe Chicago history through the current landmarks along the waterfront.
Duration: 40 minutes
Classic Lake Michigan Tours depart from West Dock Navy Pier, 600 E Grand Ave, across from McDonalds .
- Free with the purchase of the Chicago Go Card.
- Special group rates available for 20 or more visitors.
- Save 10% – 20% or more with Groupon/LivingSocial.
- Children 2 and under are free.
- 2021 Coupon: Save $2 off Adult tickets and $1 off Child tickets with code WEB2021.
Take a guided tour of Lake Michigan while paddling your own single or tandem kayak!
Perfect for beginners, this leisurely sightseeing experience offers top-quality tours that Yelp users applaud for customer service and easily accommodating last-minute walk-ups.
They even allow dogs! This tour includes an orientation to paddling.
Duration: 2.5 hours
This company doesn’t offer a lot of discounts, but they do have coupon codes every now and then, so we recommend checking their site to see whether or not there are even more deals available.
- Active for 2021: Get 10% off using the code Openair20.
- Check Groupon/LivingSocial for potential additional discounts.
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Chicago First Lady Cruises
Experience the official Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady, voted the #1 Boat Tour in North America by USA Today readers and the only cruise led by the Chicago Architecture Centers expertly trained volunteer docents. The 90-minute cruise reveals fascinating stories behind Chicagos majestic buildings in a way no other tour can. Each boat features open-air upper decks, interior climate-controlled salons and a fully stocked bar.
Cruising daily April November. Tickets available at dockside box office or in advance at ticketmaster.com/rivercruise. Private evening charters also available for groups of 2-250, please inquire.
Seadog River And Lake Architectural Tour
While Seadog is most well known in the city for their thrill rides , 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!
Duration: 75+ minutes
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Speed Boat Tour Discounts
Anyone looking for fun and excitement on the Chicago River will want to consider a Speed Boat cruise. These trips are more like a roller coaster ride than they are a boat tour.
As you ride through Chi-town at top speeds, youll see some of the most important landmarks in the city. Guides will usually point out significant sights as you enjoy a thrilling experience.
There are only 3 ways to save money on these Chicago boat tours as of right now:
- Group Rates
- Kids are Free
- Dog Discount
While the last option is definitely the strangest discount of them all, group rates are probably the best way to save money on these speed boat tours.
NOTE: You’ll find the most popular speedboat companies below, there might be some we are missing which are sold at a discount through websites like Groupon and LivingSocial.
We recommend checking these discount sites if you can’t find a service that fits your needs and expectations.
SEADOGS LAKEFRONT SPEEDBOAT TOUR
If youre looking to have some moderate thrills as you do your sightseeing, and you dont mind the wind in your hair, we recommend Seadog.
Race through the water as you hear about the Windy Citys most famous landmarks along the shoreline.
Light and humorous, reviewers have a hard time knowing if they like the speed or the speeches more!
Beware: We see a pattern in the reviews of guests who are unhappy with the will call ticket option due to long lines.
Duration: 30 Minutes