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Chicago Architecture River Cruise

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Chicago, United States
Chicago Architecture River Cruise

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Free cancellation
Up to 24 hours in advance. Learn more
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Safety measures
icon1 hour 15 minutes  (Approx.)
Mobile ticket
iconOffered in: English and 1 more

Overview

Cruise down the Chicago River to see the city's famous architecture on this boat tour. With commentary from your onboard guide, watch the spectacular skyline glide by, including more than 40 notable buildings like Navy Pier, the Wrigley Building, and the John Hancock Building. Cover all three branches of the Chicago River, passing the East Bank Club, the old Post Office Building and the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower).
  • Discover all three branches of the Chicago River with your guide, an expert in architecture
  • Enjoy the best vantage point to admire the distinct city skyline and architecture
  • See more than 40 buildings including the Wrigley Building and Willis Tower
  • Discover the major events that helped shape the architectural history of Chicago

Why Travelers Choose This Tour

This ultra-flexible, cruise runs more than 20 times daily from Navy Pier and Michigan Avenue.
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Guided architecture cruise of the historic Chicago River
Live commentary on board
Drinks (available for purchase)

Departure Point

401 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, USA

FROM MICHIGAN AVE: Departs from 401 N Michigan Ave at the Shoreline Sightseeing docks. NE corner of Historic Michigan Ave. (Dusable) Bridge. Located alongside Chicago's Honored Pioneer Court.

Return Details

Returns to original departure point

Departure Point

124 N Streeter Dr, Chicago, IL 60611, USA

FROM NAVY PIER: Departs from 124 N Streeter Drive from the Shoreline Sightseeing docks at Polk Bros Park.

Return Details

Returns to original departure point
Make your way to either Navy Pier or Michigan Avenue (depending on option chosen) for your cruise departure. Board your riverboat and find a comfortable seat; a restroom and sometimes a full bar are available on the boat. Listen as your guide, an architecture expert, gives you an introduction to the city's landmarks. 

Along the scenic route, see buildings by world-famous architects including Mies van der Rohe, Helmut Jahn, and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. A boat on the river is the best vantage point to admire the distinct city skyline.

Pass by more than 40 distinctive buildings, including the John Hancock Center, the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower), the Wrigley Building, and the Lyric Opera House. Listen as your guide recounts the two major events that helped shape the architectural history of the city. Learn about how the invention of balloon-frame construction revolutionized how homes were built, and hear the dramatic story of Chicago's rise from the Great Fire of 1871. Both of these milestones led Chicago to become one of the cradles of modern American architecture.

Your cruise ends at its starting point.
Itinerary
Stop At:  
Chicago River
Cruise takes place on the Chicago River.
Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes
Admission Ticket Free
Pass By:  
Chicago Skyline
Enjoy an amazing view of the city's skyline.
Pass By:  
Chicago Board of Trade Building
An art deco masterpiece, this is the home of many of the city's financial movers and shakers.
Pass By:  
Wrigley Building
This white, terra-cotta landmark was built in 1922 as headquarters for the Wrigley chewing gum company.
Pass By:  
Navy Pier
50 acres of parks, promenades, gardens, shops, eateries and attractions, including a 15-story Ferris wheel.
Pass By:  
Illinois Center
This mixed-used building is notable in that the streets running through it have three levels.
Pass By:  
Skydeck Chicago - Willis Tower
Tallest building in the Western Hemisphere
Pass By:  
Tribune Tower
The neo-gothic tower's signature is the exterior collection of stones from other famous edifices, like the Parthenon, St. Peter's Basilica, Notre Dame, the White House and most recently, the Berlin Wall.
Pass By:  
Merchandise Mart
The largest commercial building in the world. First two floors are essentially a mall, and the rest is business offices
Pass By:  
Marina City
Unique architecture for a building complex as its own self-contained community.
Pass By:  
Lake Point Tower
A high-rise residential building located on a promontory of the Lake Michigan lakefront
Pass By:  
333 West Wacker Drive
Noted for its reflection of the curves of the Chicago River
Pass By:  
The East Bank Club
A health club with 450,000 square feet of space
Pass By:  
The Lyric Opera House
Well-known opera company puts on lavish performances in this massive Art Deco Civic Opera House.
Pass By:  
Citicorp Center
Located between Clinton and Canal Streets on Madison Street, the structure was designed in a late modernist style.
Pass By:  
John Hancock Center
The John Hancock Center, is a 100-story, 1,128-foot supertall skyscraper
Pass By:  
London Guarantee Building
The London Guarantee Building or London Guaranty & Accident Building is a historic 1923 commercial skyscraper
Pass By:  
Historic Water Tower
Chicago-focused gallery, specializing in photos, inside a 19th-century Gothic limestone landmark.
Pass By:  
Chicago Architecture Center
The Chicago Architecture Center is home to a 4,000-building scale model of Chicago
Pass By:  
Chicago Cultural Center
The Chicago Cultural Center is the nation's first free municipal cultural center and one of the most visited attractions in Chicago. The stunning landmark building, opened in 1897 as the city's first public library, is home to two magnificent stained-glass domes.
Pass By:  
Millennium Park
Located within Grant Park, Millennium Park is home to Cloud Gate, or "the bean."
Pass By:  
Buckingham Fountain
Chicago's landmark is considered one of America's finest fountains due to its Beaux-Arts-style landscape design, finely wrought bronze sculpture and innovative use of technology.
Pass By:  
Chicago Riverwalk
A continuous walkway connecting the lakefront with the heart of downtown.
  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • All boats have full restrooms and some have a full bar
  • Some boats are single deck vessels, the type of vessel you are placed on cannot be guaranteed
  • Wheelchairs or other walking assistance equipment are not provided.
  • Tour times cannot be changed.
  • Near public transportation
  • Most travelers can participate
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 250 travelers
  • OPERATED BY Shoreline Sightseeing
You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance of the experience for a full refund.
  • For a full refund, you must cancel at least 24 hours before the experience’s start time.
  • If you cancel less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time, the amount you paid will not be refunded.
  • Any changes made less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
  • Cut-off times are based on the experience’s local time.
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund.

Learn more about cancellations.

The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What is the policy on sanitization during Chicago Architecture River Cruise?
A:The policy on sanitization is:

  • Regularly sanitized high-traffic areas
See all safety measures taken by Chicago Architecture River Cruise.
Q:
What is the social distancing policy during Chicago Architecture River Cruise?
A:The policy on social distancing is:

  • Contactless payments for gratuities and add-ons
See all safety measures taken by Chicago Architecture River Cruise.

Traveler Photos

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Traveler Tips


  • "Most of the boat is exposed, so make sure to wear appropriate attire in the case of rain or direct sunlight." See review
  • "There are 2 departure piers (East Michigan and East Grand) so make sure that you’re at the right place." See review

Reviews

5.0
star-5
6,775 Reviews

Reviews by Viator travelers

Showing 1-10 of 6,775 reviews
star-5
Such a fun way to see...
Erinn_S
, Oct 2021
Such a fun way to see Chicago! The whole experience was wonderful. Sam detailed every building with lots of history, Zach made wonderful drinks. Loved the whole experience!
star-5
Amazing. A must for your trip to Chicago!
Bryan_W
, Oct 2021
My partner and I truly enjoyed the architectural tour and the guide, Sam, was informative and entertained us with an incredible narrative of Chicago architectural history. Definitely schedule this tour at the beginning of your trip. It actually changed the way both of us think about the “city in the park”.
star-5
Holy Chicago <3
Alexandra_D
, Oct 2021
Kevin was our tour guide and I couldn’t have been more thoroughly entertained. Talkative without being obnoxious, factual without with hit own twist and takes, and personable and polite without being too much, Kevin was amazing and made the tour worth every minute and penny. So happy I took this tour.
star-5
Thumbs up!
Raymundo_L
, Oct 2021
The entire experience was amazing. Sam gave a lot of good information on the history of Chicago. The view of all the buildings in Chicago with the history of them was good. I was able to capture several great pictures.
star-5
More than just Architecture!
Matthew_N
, Oct 2021
The guide and boat crew were professional, knowledgeable, and amazing! The sights were great and you simply miss them while walking or driving around the city, but from the view point of the river you really can appreciate the beauty of Chicago and its architecture.
star-5
Well worth while sightseeing cruise
Anne_M
, Oct 2021
Seeing the magnificent buildings and hearing their history. Our tour guide Elliot was terrific he was entertaining as well as informative.
star-4
Good boat ride, but NO wheelchair ramp for our guest!
Lindsay_W
, Oct 2021
We all liked the boat tour, EXCEPT for our colleague who is in a wheelchair. There was NO wheelchair ramp to get on to the boat on the Michigan Ave dock. We were not notified of this, and expected there to be a way for wheelchair riders to get onto this boat, as there were NO messages saying only ramps are at Navy Pier. We all felt terrible that one of our guests had to skip the boat ride, bc he's in a wheelchair. This place NEEDS to note that!
star-5
Great experience, loved...
Michelle_B
, Oct 2021
Great experience, loved learning about history of the city and the architecture! Such beautiful views the entire time.
star-5
Jake was Very...
Matt_P
, Oct 2021
Jake was Very knowledgeable and entertaining. We learned a lot about Chicago's history. The tour is the perfect time not too short not too long. The last cruise is perfect for pictures stunning views throughout.
star-5
Spiro, a great Chicago Ambassador!
Cynthia_R
, Oct 2021
Our tour guide Spiro peaked our interest in learning more about Chicago architecture. He shared stories and details, plus some humorous anecdotes. As educators, we appreciated the way he interacted with youth on the tour in a fun and engaging way. We’d love to take a class from Spiro! Four styles, three structural techniques, the King, the Queen, the Princess, and the champagne bottle, the stars and stripes on the Chicago flag, both history and legend. . . Spiro shared it all! We took his advice: had Chicago Dogs & Garrett Popcorn and visited the Bean (Cloud Gate). When are you coming out with a book? Put us on the list to buy it!

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