Although I know that many people know about this, I would nevertheless like to suggest obviously for everyone who goes to visit Chicago to take the architectural boat tour. There are many of them and several companies which organize the tour and it really is interesting, as Chicago really has a lot to show. The boat ride is mostly on the river, but I think that there are also tours which combine boat rides on the river and on the lake of Michigan. Chicago's architecture is really impressive during the day as well as during the night when the whole downtown is beautifully illuminated.
THE most underrated thing to do in Chicago. Or maybe it's not? Maybe everyone but me already knew about the fascinating Chicago Architecture Foundation cruises.
Make sure you get the real McCoy: Architecture Foundation, folks. Accept no substitutes. The chairs may be plastic and noone is likely to try and serve you a carbonated beverage..thankfully.
On a pleasant day, there is nothing more relaxing then a boat tour on the Chicago River. We chose the Wendella Boats for our tour. Leaving in mid afternoon, we cruised up the river through the lock to Lake Michigan before returning and cruising down the river. The tour provided a great opportunity to take pictures of the Chicago skyline as well as the many architectural gems along the river.
The tour took about 90 minutes and cost $23 each for adults. It is narrated and is well paced.
After reading all the reviews for the different river cruises available we decided to go with the Architecture foundation river cruise. We are so happy we did this cruise!!! It's very informative, you not only learn a great deal on all the architecture along the river you also learn a great deal of Chicago history.
The entire cruise takes about 90 minutes and it flies by!
Some advice, we visited Chicago during a weekend, when we first went to buy tickets for the cruise we found out that it was sold out for the day so we had to buy tickets for a set time for the next day. Apparently the tickets sell out quite fast, the attendant told us the tickets were sold out by 11am for the day! If you know for sure when you want to take the cruise you can buy the tickets online at ticketmaster (312-902-1500), at the ArchiCenter shop or at the dock, go early or even the day before to pick up your tickets.
If it seems to be somewhat of a hassle getting tickets, I have to once again say, the cruise is well worth it!
For those requiring parking, you can park at 111 Wacker and your parking ticket will be validated which ends up cheaper.
Chicago's soaring buildings are something to marvel at. One of the best ways to get a feel for this towering city and its architectural history is to take the Architecture River Cruise offered by CAF (Chicago Architecture Foundation). The 90 minute boat cruise highlights more than 50 significant sites. The guide on our cruise was brilliant. The tours are very popular and its probably best to book in advance.
You must take an architecture tour of this city if you have even the slightest interest in architecture. And if you don't want a formal tour, for God's sake, look up often. We're America's First City for architecture. If you like to walk, the Chicago Architecture Foundation sponsors walking tours of the city; if you'd prefer to sit, they have a cruise on the Chicago River. They also have bus and bike tours. (Try their website at www.architecture.org/tours.html which has a list of all of their tours.) They have over fifty (!) tours covering much of what anyone would be interested in from the Loop itself to Graceland Cemetery to Frank Lloyd Wright in Oak Park to Mies van der Rohe's skyscrapers in the city. (They even have a tour of MY neighborhood--Lakewood-Balmoral!) The Foundation runs a center at 224 S. Michigan Avenue, open seven days a week. (312) 922-TOURS. (The picture, by the way, is of Robie House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and located in Hyde Park, on the south side of the city, near the University of Chicago campus.)
Chicago is full of beautiful buildings. If architecture is an interest to you then you must go on one of these tours. There are many kinds of tours offered, by boat, bus etc. The tour I went on was with the River cruise with the Architecture foundation. The tour was about 1.5 hours long. It costs $28.00. The guide was really funny and very knoweldgeable.
If the weather is good this is a must for everyone interested in Chicagos tall buildings. The crusie up the Chicago river gives magnificent views of more than 50 bulidings with extremely knowlegdable commentaries by enthusiastic guides. Tickets can be purchased at the doc or at Chicago ArchiCenter and variuos other places and hotels. There are also other companies that operates such cruises, but The Official Chicago Architecture Cruise is by far the best. The cruises does not operate during winter.
The Chicago Architecture Foundation runs boat tours of the Chicago River that focus on the great architectural history of this city, which contains works by many of America's most celebrated artists. I wouldn't do this tour in the winter, or on a rainy day, but if the weather is fine I highly recommend it. You'll see a side of Chicago that you can't access any other way, and get a great education in American architectural history in the process.
Buying tickets in advance is recommended. I did this trip on a pretty chilly day, and even then the first boat trip I wanted to get on was sold out.