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Chicago River 1.5-hour Guided Architecture Cruise

What Can You Expect During The Tour

Chicago Architecture River Cruise | A Complete guided tour by Shoreline Sightseeing | English

The main attraction of course is experiencing firsthand some of the worlds best architecture on board along with an experienced tour guide who will be with you every step of the way. Furthermore, with an informative tour guide, river cruises are not just viewing sessions theyre also learning opportunities where students, tourists, and professionals alike can explore the citys architecture with accurate facts at their fingertips.

The onboard experience takes you from top landmarks like Wrigley Building & Tribune Tower to lesser-known locations like Three-Flat Houses and more most people are surprised after discovering a unique range of sites along their journey on board as many people have no idea about them beforehand. Plus, all sites have their own unique stories shining through unique pieces of art or history-based unforeseeable facts mostly hidden by common perception.

The cruise route follows the main branch of Chicago River from Lake Michigan all along the course of downtown though most savors view the sweeping vistas from east-side canal. Only with seven bridges along this course in total, several tunnels and cargo docks built over centuries this context has no real comparable on this side of planet earth.

Private Lake Michigan Sailing Charter

Enjoy the magnificence of the Windy Citys skyline from the comfort of a private charter. Hoist the sails and set out onto lake Michigan with 5 of your friends for an unforgettable adventure. Let the wind determine your course or let your captain know where you want to sail to for a customized sailing experience.

Chicago River Sights With Starters & Drinks

Another of the best river boat tours in Chicago, IL, is the Chicago River Sights with Starters & Drinks cruise.

As you float down the river, listen to music while you enjoy a selection of tasty cocktails and hors doeuvres.

Unlimited coffee, hot tea, iced tea, and water will also be provided on the 2-hour boat ride.

Sit inside the glass-enclosed dining area or stand out on the deck at the front of the boat as you take in the sights of Chicago.

This is one of the best Chicago River cruises for adults who want to enjoy a relaxing activity away from the kids.

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Lake Michigan Skyline Sightseeing Boat Tour In Chicago

The Lake Michigan Skyline Sightseeing Cruise is one of the Chicago boat tours at Navy Pier.

This 40-minute cruise takes you along the lakefront as you listen to narration about the citys history and architecture.

While the narration is not live like many other tours, the recordings are offered in both English and Spanish.

This is one of the best boat tours in Chicago with kids because it is not so long that they get bored.

Bring a camera to capture memories and photos of the skyline!

How To Skip The Ticket Office For A Chicago River Architecture Cruise

Tickets Shoreline Sightseeing

Seeing the unique riverfront architectures of Chicago is an unforgettable experience for anyone. The buildings along the famous Chicago River have come to define the city, and taking a cruise to appreciate them from a novel perspective is one of the best ways to explore the city. But the hassle of buying tickets can be a major inconvenience, making you lose out on this fantastic opportunity.

To ensure you get the most out of your experience without any stress, you can skip the ticket office and book your tickets online in just minutes. Heres everything you need to know about cruising our beloved river and how you can get your tickets without any hassle.

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Lake Michigan Buffet Brunch Lunch Or Dinner Boat Tours In Chicago

The 2-hour Lake Michigan Buffet Brunch, Lunch, or Dinner Cruise is another of the best Lake Michigan cruises in Chicago that feature a meal.

Hop aboard the Spirit of Chicago and enjoy a buffet-style meal with a view of the city. The food for this lunch cruise in Chicago is freshly prepared and tasty.

There are three decks with climate-controlled rooms and outdoor observation decks.

When you are done eating, there are games to play! Try your hand at giant Jenga and shuffleboard.

You can also dance to the music put on by a live DJ! This is one of the most entertaining Chicago boat rides!

Best Boat Tour In Chicago

Another great water activity to take is a 45 minute Lake Michigan boat tour. Did you know that we have a beautiful lake which looks like an ocean with turquoise water in some places, which is called lake Michigan?! I am sure you did. Why would you want to come here then :)? I am kidding. We have many more beautiful things here other than the lake, but no comments that it is the most beautiful lake we have ever seen.

On this 45-minute classic family-friendly lake tour, you will enjoy the stunning city view from the water, and its architectural pieces, and learn Chicagos history as well.

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Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Regular & Express Ticket

The regular ticket allows you to skip the ticket line so you can board the Centennial Wheel faster. With the Fastpass Express, you can skip both the ticket and boarding line to walk right onto the ride in no time! With either ticket, you can schedule your visit within seven days. Get high in Chicago when you book your tickets today!

Top Chicago Architecture Bus Tours

Architecture River Cruise in Chicago, USA

One of the best ways to see Chicago is to take a bus tour. There are several services that will drive you around the most architecturally significant areas of the city.

As you travel around Chi-town by bus, a tour guide will point out historically important buildings and tell you the story of their construction.

These architecture tours may be better for anyone visiting during the winter because they wont require you to be outside for very long, if at all.

Due to the fact that great and interesting architecture is everywhere, just about every bus tour in the city is at least partially an architecture tour.

If youre going on a trip with your family, it may be a better idea to consider one of these general excursions over an experience devoted to learning about how this city was built.

Below are some of the more notable.

Be sure to read our post which compares the best Chicago bus tours.

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Free Thing To Do In Chicago

  • Visit Taste of Chicago yearly event. This year it is scheduled for July 7-11. Enjoy plenty of local food for all tastes, live music, and more.
  • Enjoy a FREE movie watching on a big screen outdoor.
  • Take an advantage of FREE events on Navy Pier. To see the full list of events, check this link.
  • See the worlds largest video show on the big display from 8:30 pm to 9 pm every night from the Chicago River Walk. Check more details here.
  • Visit FREE festivals and events around Chicago.
  • Visit Garfield park conservatory
  • Check out free museums
  • Planning to go for a drink somewhere? Combine it with fun arcade games at the sports bar Replay, which are free.
  • Visit Chicago Botanic Garden. It is totally free, but if you are driving, you will need to pay some fee to get in.
  • Go people watch at Millenium Park and take a picture with the famous bean
  • Go have some fun at the Laugh Chicago Factory. You can get free tickets online on Eventbrite, but they will ask you to pay $20 for drinks once you are in. But do not worry, its totally worth it as you will have a great time and will be laughing so much.
  • Ride the Navy Pier Trolley
  • Watch the big beautiful fountain at the Buckingham Fountain which happens from April-October every year.
  • Want to visit some greatest temples? Head to Winnetka, IL and observe our best temple Bahai House of Worship. You can also go inside .
  • Need a cheap place to stay in Chicago? Check out this list of the best hostels in Chicago. .

    Final Thoughts

    Tall Ship Windy Architecture & Skyline Sailing Chicago Boat Tour

    If you want to enjoy one of the most unique boat tours in Chicago, Illinois, then the Tall Ship Windy Architecture & Skyline Sailing Tour is the one you should book!

    You will feel like a pirate when you board the iconic tall ship called Windy for this 75-minute cruise!

    This is a great family activity in Chicago! Young and old alike will love watching the sails work in the wind atop this 148-foot traditional schooner.

    There are sunset and architecture tour options. Each gives you panoramic views of the Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan.

    Listen to the informative narration and sip a drink from the onboard bar.

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    Wine & Cheese Or Beer & Bbq Thursday Evening Boat Tours In Chicago

    This next Chicago boat tour is a great way to sample local food while taking in the sights.

    The Wine & Cheese or Beer & BBQ Thursday Evening Cruise has two options.

    Book the wine tour to enjoy several tastings from the Chicago-based Picnic Wine & Provisions wine boutique.

    There will be a cheese table and an expert that will guide you in wine and cheese pairings.

    This is one of the best boat tours in Chicago for couples looking for a unique experience.

    The beer and BBQ tour will have beers from local breweries in Chicago and a meal provided by Blackwood BBQ.

    Each tour is 2 hours long and sure to satisfy your taste buds. You will travel along the river and out to the lake.

    Book Here: Chicago Thursday Evening Cruise!

    Gangsters And Ghosts 2

    Tickets Seadog Chicago

    Clubs and bars offer plenty of things to do in Chicago at night, but skip the booze in favor of some boos for an evening. Join your fellow ghostbusters in learning about Al Capone and the fascinating organized crime syndicate that once had a chokehold on the city. Follow historians around Chicagos Loop District on foot, making stops at the Chicago Theater, Palmer House, Cloud Gate, the Art Institute of Chicago all one-time crime scenes and a mystery famous gangster hangout.

    This Chicago walking tour offers free cancellation and you can take advantage of reserve now, pay later when you book today!

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    Where To Book Tickets & How To Skip The Ticket Office

    Booking tickets is just as easy as the actual tour itself! Its best to visit official ticket vendors online to make sure that you get a convenient and secure transaction. For instance, with GetYourGuide, you may book tickets in advance and even choose your own seat all that without needing to go to the ticket office in person.

    Plus, depending on the time of your booking, GetYourGuide may have special offers for its customers. So, no matter when you decide to get on board, you may be eligible for discounts or other benefits. Whats more, by relying on official vendors, you make it easier for the tour company to provide great service. The pricing could then be fairer for both individuals and companies .

    Overall, if you choose to book tickets online thereby skipping the traditional ticket office you may be entitled to additional discounts or benefits based on your tour reach or availability as well as interesting packages specifically designed to suit your needs.

    Self Guided Chicago Architecture Tours

    If youd rather take matters into your own hands, you can always try out one of our many self-guided walking tours in Chicago.

    Alternatively, you can combine these self-guided adventures with some of the other activities we have already mentioned above in order to make the best use of your time without spending too much money.

    No schedule is necessary for these excursions, and you are free to explore at your own leisure.

    Many of our self-guided walking tours focus at least some attention on architectural history, making them a perfect complement to any vacation focused on learning about Chicagos architecture.

    We offer the following self-guided touring options:

    • Downtown Theater District

    In addition to these choices, you can also discover a lot of unique architecture by visiting locations such as Chinatown and Little Italy on one of our self-guided food tours.

    To learn more about all of these wonderful activities, visit our list of self-guided Chicago walking tours.

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    How Much Do Boat Tours In Chicago Cost

    Most architecture river cruises in Chicago cost between US$40 and US$50 per person. These tickets allow you to skip the line at the docks and secure your place on board the most popular tour of its kind.

    A boat cruise on Lake Michigan is around US$30 per person, a budget-friendly option for visitors looking to enjoy the marvelous views of the city.

    A speedboat cruise in Chicago costs around US$60 per person for a trip on the river and Lake Michigan while a ride on only the lake is around US$30 per person.

    A private sailing charter is priced for a group of up to six people at a cost of US$430 for the group.

    A dinner cruise in Chicago is US$100 per person and includes food. There are also breakfast and lunch cruises available at the same price.

    Seadog River And Lake Architectural Tour

    Architect Explores Chicago’s Hidden Architecture & History | Walking Tour | Architectural Digest

    While Seadog is most well known in the city for their thrill rides .

    But, 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!


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    How Long Does A Boat Trip Last

    Architectural boat tours in Chicago cruise down the Chicago River and last between 1 to 1.5 hours.

    Lake Michigan cruises are a little shorter at around 40 minutes and speed boat cruises on the lake are around half an hour.

    Speed boat cruises that travel down the river and onto the lake are just over an hour long.

    Dinner cruises last for 2 hours, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the bountiful buffet and the onboard entertainment.

    Chicago Architecture Boat Tours

    With so many wonderful buildings located near the water, its actually quite easy to experience an entire boat tour focused specifically on architecture.

    Experience the story of Chicagos most important architects as you pass their completed works on both sides of the river.

    Shoreline Sightseeing hires professional tour guides to offer an exceptional insight into Chi-towns creation.

    This company is also well known for providing a laid-back excursion and a family-friendly atmosphere.

    TIP: Before paying full price, do note that this cruise is included for free in Chicago Go Card, a tourist attraction discount pass as well as part of Big Bus’s Triple Play package.

    Be sure to also read our post comparing the different tourist discount passes available in Chicago.

    Shoreline Sightseeing Reviews

    Shoreline Sightseeing has an overall 4 ½ out of 5 stars rating on TripAdvisor and Get Your Guide .

    The few negative comments seem to indicate that not every guest will appreciate the brand of humor employed by their tour guides, but most people appreciate the experience offered by this company.

    Tickets and Tour Information

    Save between 20%-45% with the Go Card.

    Tour Length: 75 minutes

    Availability: This tour runs several times daily from April November. Check the tour calendar for more information.

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    Lake Michigan Speedboat Ride

    Make a splash with this exhilarating speed boat tour in Chicago. You will whizz by unmissable landmarks like Willis Tower, Tribune Tower, and Buckingham Fountain while having the ride of your life on an impressive boat, built for speed and excitement.

    You will make waves in the Chicago River before heading out to the open water on Lake Michigan to see more of the citys iconic sights from the waterfront.

    Chicago Architecture Walking Tours

    Tickets Shoreline Sightseeing

    Whether you want to save some money or youd prefer to get some exercise on your trip, you might want to consider a walking tour of Chicagos architecture.

    Stroll by some of the most notable buildings in the city and learn all about the history of their construction.

    There are both free and paid walking tours in Chi-town, and most of them are very highly rated.

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    Chicago River Architecture Cruise

    What can be better than enjoying a water activity on a hot summer day, right?! Chicago offers many kinds of boat tours or cruises which are very entertaining and knowledgeable if you would love to learn history.

    On this 60-75 minute cruise, you will learn about hidden architectural gems, will see the most popular city architectural pieces, and learn the Chicagos history and you will be able just to relax and enjoy the beautiful views from the Chicago River.

    *Make sure to have cash as there will be a bar with some drinks and snacks.

    Get your Skip the Line ticket to the Chicago River Architecture Cruise here.

    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.


    • 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.


    GPS: 112 E. Wacker Drive

    Conveniently located along Wacker Drive, look for the blue awning at the southeast corner of Michigan Avenue Bridge.

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