Thursday, April 25, 2024

Which Is The Best Architectural Boat Tour In Chicago

Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise

Chicago River Architecture Boat tour Chicago 90 mins. is the best

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.

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.

Dine On The Water With Odyssey Cruises

Odyssey dining cruises are the perfect way to create a memorable moment in Chicago. Choose from a river or lake dining cruise, complete with delicious cuisine, cocktails, and entertainment.

Their glass-enclosed river vessel is particularly stunning. It offers passengers panoramic views of the citys most iconic buildings as you glide along the Chicago River. They also offer a lakefront dinner cruise option that departs from Navy Pier.

Illinois Department Of Natural Resources

Are you an angler looking for a downtown spot to cast a line? Fishing is allowed on the Chicago Riverwalk and licensed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Please be sure to visit their website to get your license and view current information on fishing rules and regulations in the 2016 Illinois Fishing Information guide. Please make sure your gear and equipment do not obstruct the Riverwalk path for other users.

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Frequently Asked Questions :

Docked at River City Marina, the “Summer of George” was designed and built as a party cruise boat. Groups can enjoy our 100-foot vessel that has vast seating, an enclosed main deck, a full-service bar and a dance floor to entertain your guests while they view the beautiful Chicago skyline. The interior is elegantly understated offering a 360-degree view from mahogany trimmed windows. The open-air upper deck is expansive with bench seating along both sides.


The dock is located at 900 South Wells Street at River City Marina. Guests need to head south on wells street and enter through the parking lot behind the River City condominium building. The parking lot is located across from the soccer field on 9th Street and Wells. You do NOT need to go in the building . for a bigger map.

Ticketing Policy:


Ticketing Technical Issues:For any ticketing / technical issues, please see the Eventbrite Help Center and/or contact Eventbrite through .

Please note the parking lot may fill up early and we are not responsible if you cannot find a spot. Please plan on arriving early to find alternate parking if need be.

For any other concerns, please contact us!

For More Information: E-mail: Phone: 312-858-6955

About The Chicago River Boat Architecture Tours

Architecture Boat Tour of Chicago Coupons and Review ...

Chicago is known around the world for its architectural feats, both inside and outside of the buildings. From the 100-year-old Art Deco, Neo-Classical, and Gothic Towers, to some of the tallest modern-day skyscrapers, Chicago is where old meets futuristic architectural endeavors. It has something for everyone in a way that no other city replicates today.

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Best Architectural River Cruise Chicago
    Explore Chicagoâs iconic architecture aboard TripAdvisorâs #1 rated boat tour of the city. The only Chicago River cruise partnered with the Chicago Architecture Center , Chicagoâs First Lady Cruises offers visitors the cityâs most engaging architectural tour experience.Phone: 358-1330

The Best Chicago Architecture Boat Tours

Chicago has one of Americas most celebrated skylines. Particularly the landmark-packed neighbourhood called The Loop, where youll find skyscrapers like the 19th century Monadnock Building or the 110-story Willis Tower sharing the view with cultural landmarks such as The Art Institute of Chicago. Like many major cities in the United States, open water is not far away The Loop borders the waters of mighty Lake Michigan, making a boat trip one of the best ways to simultaneously enjoy the lake and experience the citys peaks and troughs from an appreciative distance. Meanwhile trips along the Chicago River get you up close and personal with the citys architectural gems of the last century and a half.

Special architecture boat tours in Chicago are designed to offer both access and information to guests. Many of the best options cover both the river and Lake Michigan in one itinerary so that you can enjoy both sides of Chicago. Many of the best boat tours also include a guide who can provide insight and information about the buildings helping you differentiate your Daniel Burnham from your Louis Sullivan buildings. These five Chicago architecture boat tours we have selected below were chosen based on many factors, including price, duration and the reviews of previous guests.

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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 Private evening charters also available for groups of 2-250, please inquire.


Admire Architecture With Chicagos First Lady

Chicago Architectural Boat Tour River Cruise (HD)

Around the world, Chicago is known for its outstanding architecture, and its easiest to admire the citys legacy from the water. By partnering with the Chicago Architecture Center, Chicagos First Lady offers the most comprehensive tour of the skyline docents must train 100 hours before they can lead tours.

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Loop Interior Architecture Walking Tour

This tour happenswithin a loop created by elevated train lines and their station platforms.

The Loop containsthe largest concentration of skyscrapers in Chicago, including the secondtallest building in the United States Wills Tower.

On the 2-hourwalking tour, you get to understand the architecture of Chicago from bothinside and outside.

You also get to share iPads with never-seen-before drawings, maps, photos, and video clips of Chicagos buildings.

Tour price

Adult ticket : 28 USDChild ticket : 18 USDInfant ticket : Free entry

Explore The Chicago River With Urban Kayaks

If youre ready to ditch the captain and explore the water on your own, then its time to grab a paddle at Urban Kayaks. Youll go through a brief training session before you hit the water, but youre free to paddle the river or lake at your own pace. Or join in a guided tour to catch the sunset, fireworks, or historic highlights. Rentals are available at the Chicago Riverwalk or Monroe Harbor.

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Chicago Architecture Foundation Bus Tour

In addition to their boat tour, CAF also provides an extensive architecture bus tour.

Clocking in at over 3 hours in length, you can rest assured that you will learn a lot about Chicago while on this adventure.

Over the course of this excursion, youll cover more than 30 miles of architectural history in the windy city.

If youre looking for a more educational experience, this is probably your best bet.


  • $37 CAF members

Tour Length: 3 ½ hours

Availability: This tour is typically available at least once a week. Check their tour calendar for more information.

See It All With Shoreline Sightseeing


One of Chicagos classic cruise options, Shoreline Sightseeing covers all the bases. Their ultra-popular Architecture River Tour takes you on all three branches of the historic Chicago River takes you past dozens of landmark buildings.

They also offer skyline lake tours, plus specialty cruises and holiday events. Hop on a boat at Navy Pier or on Michigan Avenue.

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Why Tour Chicagos Architecture With Us

We are born-and-raised Chicagoans ourselves, passionate about the community that we know and love. That passion and desire spills into all of our tours, drawing on personal experiences for curating a tour that just cant be duplicated by a book or a movie. We want you to experience everything firsthand. Why tour with us?

  • Expertise: All of our tour guides are either architects, architecture students, or architecture historians, making for an in-depth and personally rooted kind of touring experience that covers all of the discreet details.
  • Variety: We offer a variety of uniquely different tours that cover everyones individual taste. We offer the Chicago River Boat Architecture Tour that takes you down the famous Chicago River there are several different options such as Architecture, History, Jazz/ Cocktail Cruises and Firework Viewing Tours
  • Flexibility: We want you to enjoy your Chicago River Boat touring experience, which is why were happy to talk with you and learn more about how our tours can accommodate you, your party, or your corporate outing. Our tours run daily, with availability always posted on our website here.

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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Speed Across Lake Michigan On Seadog Boat Tours

Are you up for a thrill? Race across Lake Michigan on SeaDog Cruises, featuring 30 minutes of high speeds and exhilarating twists and turns. Come prepared to get splashed.

SeaDog also offers lakefront speedboat tours and a river/lake architecture tour, featuring views of Chicagos iconic Buckingham Fountain, Grant Park, Museum Campus, and more.

Give The Gift Of Chicago Line Tours

Chicago Architectural River Boat Tour


To give a special someone, friend or client the best tour in Chicago, simply ask at our ticket office or contact us.

This is my 8th time on a Chicago architectural river cruise and this was by far the most informative and biggest bang for your buck.Operagolf / LaHabra

The best guide on our whole USA trip. We took the Architecture tour where the boat meandered in between all of the incredible buildings of the city with the guide knowing EVERYTHING about each building its style, age, height, architect, cost, purpose, owner .. Quite brilliant!DrCumbrian / TripAdvisor

I’ve done several of the architecture cruises since my family moved to Chicago, and this is the best one yet! Allie K / TripAdvisor

If you only have time for one sight-seeing event while in Chicago, do this. We really have no great interest in architecture, but this tour came highly recommended and we did not regret it. Allice I / Oklahoma

My wife and I very much enjoyed the Chicago Line Cruise jazz cruise… My spouse said this was one of the favorite things she has done in Chicago since moving here in the past year, and I agree. I am a jazz snob, and … I was very pleased with the music offered by the Geordie Kelly group. He’s a fine jazz guitarist, and his band was great. / Yelp

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The 7 Best Chicago Architecture Boat Tours Of 2021

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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.

Lake Michigan Sightseeing Boat Tour

At just 40 minutes long and with prices starting at $26, this Lake Michigan sightseeing jaunt is a simple and affordable way to see another side of the Windy City. Itll take you out onto the waters of the Great Lakes, so you can survey the town from a distance. There, the silhouettes of mighty skyscrapers serrate the skyline, while the twirling carousels of Navy Pier combine with Grant Parks prestigious monuments. There really is loads to take in, so be sure to bring along your own lunch and grab a tipple at the on-board bar.

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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

Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise Aboard Chicago’s First Lady

100 trips everyone should take in their lifetime ...
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.

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Chicago Architectural Boat Tour
    Think of the Venetian canals, a Shinto temple, the medieval Cathedral at Chartres, or the unmistakable skyline of Chicago. Each year thousands of architecture lovers travel to the City of Chicago, the birthplace of the skyscraper⦠and thousands book passage aboard our enthralling river tour, widely considered the best 90-minutes spent in Chicago.

Island Party Hut Docks & Charters

Book a charter aboard Island Party Boats and enjoy the City from the water. Our entire Tiki Boat fleet has upper decks and water slides for swimming in the Lake. We also have 75 minute floating Tiki Bar Cruises that will take you on an Island Party through Chicago. You can also visit us by water and tie up your boat at our transient dock.

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