Chicago is renowned for its plethora of unique architectural styles, all of which can be explored by booking yourself onto a fascinating city architecture tour.
From its Chicago Bungalows and grand Graystones to the skyscrapers of the Loop and ornate “Polish Cathedrals”, there are few cities with such diversity in its buildings and landmarks as the Windy City. If you’d like to discover this rich heritage for yourself, we’ve picked out 5 of the best guided architecture tours of the city currently on offer.
Chicago River Guided Architecture Cruise
Experience Chicago’s legendary architecture from the scenic vintage point of the Chicago River. During the one-and-a-half hour cruise you’ll navigate the waters through the heart of the city while hearing intriguing stories and facts from your expert guide as you go. Notable buildings you’ll pass along the way include Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower, the art deco Merchandise Mart, the circular Marina City Towers, and the majestic Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower and the city’s tallest building). Guests can choose between the open-air decks or the comfort of the climate-controlled boat interiors, and there’s also a full-service bar for refreshments. From $40 per person.
Chicago History, Culture and Architecture Walking Tour
Join a thought-provoking walking tour of some of Chicago’s most prestigious buildings, landmarks, monuments and places of interest. Over an action-packed two-and-a-half-hours, you’ll get to marvel at the city’s stunning skyline, explore the nooks and crannies of The Loop district, ride the famous ‘L’ train, and feel the energy and buzz of a beautiful lakefront park. There’ll also be some mouth-watering foodie stop-offs, giving you the chance to enjoy classic made-in-Chicago snacks like Chicago-style popcorn and homemade chocolate. From $49 per person.
Chicago Architecture Walking Tour: Dazzling Interiors of the Loop
Chicago’s famous Loop district is awash with beautiful buildings that are a sight to behold from the outside, but many of them boast impressive interiors too. This two-hour walking tour invites you to go behind the façades and take in the best of the area’s inside spaces. Highlights include stop-offs at the art-deco Chicago Board of Trade Building and the historic Rookery Building. An experienced and knowledgeable guide will accompany you for the duration of the tour. From $33 per person.
Chicago Private Architecture Tour
For a more intimate experience, this private tour offers groups of up to five guests a chance to see the city’s architectural highlights over either three or six hours. During the tour, you’ll explore some of Chicago’s most iconic buildings, such as Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), The John Hancock Building, Wrigley Building, Aqua, and historic brownstones. The six-hour tour option also includes a visit to Oak Park and the homes of Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as a lunch stop (additional cost) at one of Chicago’s many famous hot dog stands or deep-dish pizza joints. From $779 per group (max 5 people).
Two Truths & a Lie: Debunking Chicago Architecture Myths & Urban Legends Tour
Like most cities, Chicago is steeped in tales that ride the line between fact and fiction Held over around two hours, this all-outdoors tour recalls some of the most commonly told urban myths as you traverse the city streets, passing along the Chicago River and through the central, downtown Loop district. Did Al Capone really operate a speakeasy in the Jewelers’ Building? Was the Carbide & Carbon Building modelled after a champagne bottle in order for the architects to thumb their noses at Prohibition? All will be revealed. From $30 per person.
By Paul Joseph