Chicago Architecture River Cruise

#11 in Best Things To Do in Chicago
Chicago Architecture River Cruise picture1 of 3
Chicago Architecture River Cruise2 of 3
Shobeir Ansari/Getty Images

Price & Hours

Prices vary by tour operator
Hours vary by tour operator

Details

Sightseeing, Tours Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.1scorecard
  • 3.0Value
  • 3.5Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

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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More Best Things To Do in Chicago

Millennium Park1 of 20
Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain2 of 20
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Millennium Park

A first-time visit to Chicago isn't complete without a stop at Millennium Park. Situated in the Loop just north of the Art Institute of Chicago, this 24.5-acre space is used to showcase cutting-edge art, architecture and landscaping; it also acts as a backdrop for concerts and festivals. Most visitors come to Millennium Park to see the Crown Fountain and Cloud Gate, better known as "The Bean." Designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, the Crown Fountain features two 50-foot towers that face each other at opposite ends of a shallow reflecting pool. The towers' LED screens project the faces of 1,000 different Chicago residents, which are perfectly aligned with spouts so that it appears they are spitting water on passersby. Cloud Gate – created by British artist Anish Kapoor – is a 110-ton bean-shaped sculpture forged from stainless steel. The Bean's elliptical shape reflects the Chicago skyline.

There are plenty of other reasons to visit Millennium Park: You can see a concert at the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, stroll through the Lurie Garden or the Boeing Galleries (where contemporary sculpture is displayed outdoors), or sign up for a Segway tour at the McDonald's Cycle Center.

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