Chicago Architecture River Cruise#11 in Best Things To Do in Chicago
Price & Hours
A visit to 360 CHICAGO or Skydeck Chicago will give you a good overview of the city's layout. But if you want to learn more about Chicago's sky-high buildings, tag along on an architecture river cruise. During a river cruise, you'll gain great views and historical insight about well-known structures like The Wrigley Building, the Leo Burnett Building and the Fulton House.
Though several companies, including Wendella Sightseeing Co. and Chicago Line Cruises, offer architecture river cruises, most travelers recommend climbing aboard a Chicago's First Lady Cruises boat with a Chicago Architecture Foundation docent. You'll learn tons of information about the area's architecture, plus catch superb skyline photo ops.
The Chicago Architecture Foundation and Chicago Line Cruises offer tours throughout the year, although they are not as frequent during the winter. (Chicago Line Cruises, Chicago's First Lady Cruises and Wendella Sightseeing Co. do not schedule any tours from December through February.) Architecture cruises from Wendella Sightseeing – which last roughly 75 or 90 minutes and are provided multiple times a day – start at $39 per person. Go Chicago Cards include 75-minute architecture river cruises provided by Shoreline Sightseeing. Tickets can be purchased online or at boat docks by DuSable Bridge or Ogden Slip. Docks at DuSable Bridge are within walking distance of The Magnificent Mile, several bus stops and the Grand L station, while Ogden Slip sits alongside Navy Pier and a few bus stops. A limited number of parking garages are also available in the area. Seats and restrooms are provided on all river cruises, and some boats feature food and beverage concessions stands. If you're interested in seeing more, check out the U.S. News list of the Best Boat Tours in Chicago.
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#1 Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain
Often referred to as "Chicago's front yard," Grant Park is a 319-acre swath of green space that starts at the eastern edge of the Loop and stretches down to the northern fringes of the Near South Side. First-time visitors should plan on spending a fair amount of time in Grant Park: This is where you'll find several of Chicago's most popular things to do, including The Field Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and Shedd Aquarium. (Millennium Park also rubs elbows with the northwest corner of Grant Park.) Baseball diamonds, flower gardens, walking paths and wide-open grassy terrain are available as well.
At the heart of Grant Park is Buckingham Fountain. One of the largest fountains in the world, this tiered water feature boasts 133 jets that shoot water as high as 150 feet into the air during 20-minute choreographed displays (which take place every hour on the hour between 9 a.m. and 10:35 p.m. from April to October). At night, the fountain's performance is accompanied by lights and music.
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