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Viewing points

Our most recommended Chicago Viewing Points

Chicago: 1.5-Hour Lake and River Architecture Cruise

1. Chicago: 1.5-Hour Lake and River Architecture Cruise

Experience an architecture cruise along the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, a family tradition since 1935. Admire Chicago’s historic and ever-changing skyline with a local expert guide as you cruise through the city. Choose between the open-air decks or the comfort of the climate-controlled interiors during the cruise. Start the cruise at Michigan Avenue (DuSable) bridge and go up the main branch of the Chicago River to Wolf Point before heading back past the Chicago Riverwalk towards Lake Michigan. Learn about historic skyscrapers like the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower, the deco Merchandise Mart, mid-century skyscrapers like the Mies Van der Rohe AMA Building, the circular Marina City Towers, the AON Center, and modernist structures like Aqua, Trump Tower, Nuveen, and the Vista Tower. After passing through the Chicago Lock and cruising past Navy Pier, admire the Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan, one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world. Here you can also see the twin super-skyscrapers, the famous Willis (formerly Sears) Tower, and the John Hancock Building. See the majesty of Grant Park with its famous Buckingham Fountain, and iconic Chicago venues such as Soldier’s Field, Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium. Enjoy several vantage points for memorable pictures throughout, and finally arrive back at Du Sable Bridge on Michigan Avenue.

Chicago: Willis Tower Skydeck and The Ledge Ticket

2. Chicago: Willis Tower Skydeck and The Ledge Ticket

Enjoy an unrivaled view over the city of Chicago on a trip up the city's Willis Tower. This famous building, once known as the Sears Tower, is not only home to a Skydeck on the 103rd floor, but it also features The Ledge, a series of 4 glass-paneled boxes that extend out from the building's facade to give visitors a view straight down. As you wind through the ground levels of the Willis Tower, you will be surrounded by museum-quality exhibits highlighting the iconic tower. Learn about Chicago's rich history and culture through these informative visuals. Watch a video presentation, "Reaching for the Sky," where you will be briefed on the history of the building and of architecture in Chicago. Then step into your elevator and you will be amazed at how quickly it ascends. As you travel, your multimedia-equipped elevator will inform you about your vertical progress. Upon reaching the 103rd floor, step out onto the Skydeck, which offers views spanning over 50 miles and across 4 states. Then summon your courage to step out onto The Ledge, a glass balcony that hangs over the edge, for vertigo-inducing views 1,353 feet (about 412 meters) straight down to the city below! Download the Skydeck Mobile App for a free viewfinder which points out many of Chicago’s notable landmarks. Learn more about sights like Navy Pier, Wrigley Field, Grant Park, Art Institute of Chicago, Shedd Aquarium, and Field Museum of Natural History.

Chicago: Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Regular & Express Ticket

3. Chicago: Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Regular & Express Ticket

Experience the views from the Centennial Wheel at the Historic Navy Pier in Chicago with this attraction ticket. Be suspended over Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Chicago River. Marvel at the Chicago skyline and gaze out over the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan. Choose between two options: With the Regular Barcoded ticket, skip the ticket line and enter the line to board the wheel. The Fastpass Express ticket allows you to skip both lines, and gives you VIP access. Both tickets allow you to visit within 7 days of your scheduled ticket date. Enjoy the Centennial Wheel, which was built in 2016 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Navy Pier opening. Featuring 42 gondolas, each holding 8 people, it operates year-round. They also feature LED lighting, padded seats, TV screens, and speakers, as well as panoramic windows on all 4 sides. A ride on the wheel gives you plenty of time to enjoy these panoramic views of Chicago as they unfold around you, and allows you to visit the top three times. Relax and take in the view, or get your camera out to snap pictures of the ever-changing Chicago landscape.

Chicago: 360 Chicago Observation Deck Skip-the-Line Ticket

4. Chicago: 360 Chicago Observation Deck Skip-the-Line Ticket

Marvel at the views from 1,000 feet over Chicago’s legendary Michigan Avenue with this ticket to the 360 CHICAGO observation deck on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Center. Save time with skip-the-line access to this popular attraction. Head up to the 360 CHICAGO observation deck to take in breathtaking views of Chicago’s lakefront and view the city skyline from above. Take a peek at 4 neighboring states from this height. Feel the thrill of a 40-second ride in one of North America's fastest elevators to the observation deck to experience what 'Travel & Leisure Magazine' voted one of the best views in America. Get easy access to Chicago’s premier shopping and dining districts with 360 CHICAGO. Also, enjoy an interactive exhibit on the Ground Floor that highlights Chicago’s rich history and showcases 9 of the city’s culturally unique neighborhoods. Then, on the 94th floor, explore the history and architecture of the magnificent city stretched out before you with audio tours in 5 languages. By purchasing this timed ticket, you get to skip the ticket desk and present your barcoded voucher to security to be scanned - you may have to wait in a short line at security, then head directly into the Ground Floor Exhibits, and then on to the Elevator Line.

Chicago Lakefront: Seadog Speedboat Ride

5. Chicago Lakefront: Seadog Speedboat Ride

This half-hour Seadog Speedboat ride along Chicago’s lakefront is one of the best ways to view the city’s skyline while learning about the city. Combine an exciting speedboat ride with informative and amusing stories about the world-famous Windy City. As you depart Chicago's Navy Pier, your captain will tell you interesting facts about the pier and the lakefront as he cranks up the music and races to key lakefront landmarks. Stop near the picturesque lakefront park of the Chicago Museum campus, where you’ll learn about the architecture and history of Chicago. Admire views of the Magnificent Mile neighborhood, including the Buckingham Fountain, Sears Tower, Grant Park, and Chicago's largest shopping district. Listen to the thrilling sound of the turbo engines as you race around the Lake Michigan waterfront and back to the Navy Pier. Upgrade to the Extreme Thrill Ride Option and experience exhilarating speeds and full 360° spins. This jet-propelled ride blasts off to start and splashes down to stop. Experience full-throttle slalom runs, sharp twists and turns, and the raw power of Seadog Extreme's 1400 HP engines.

Chicago: Downtown Chicago Helicopter Sightseeing Tour

6. Chicago: Downtown Chicago Helicopter Sightseeing Tour

Discover Chicago from above on this 15-minute helicopter tour. Capture pictures of stunning city views as you fly over downtown Chicago. View sights like Willis Tower, Shedd Aquarium, and Soldier’s field (home of the Bears). Check in at the tour supplier's centrally-located office in Chicago and get ready to take off with a company that is committed to a safety-first policy. Hop aboard a spacious and comfortable helicopter and experience the excitement of lifting off. Feel the thrill of flying north over the Chicago River and past downtown, before looping over iconic Wrigley Field and flying back south along the famous Chicago beaches and Navy Pier. Snap pictures above the Willis Tower, the Chicago River, Wrigley Field (home of the Cubs), Lincoln Park Zoo, Navy Pier, Shedd Aquarium, and Soldier’s field (home of the Bears). End your tour with a smooth landing.

Chicago: Gourmet Brunch, Lunch, or Dinner River Cruise

7. Chicago: Gourmet Brunch, Lunch, or Dinner River Cruise

Enjoy a fine dining experience on the Chicago River while admiring unparalleled riverfront views on this city cruise trip. Explore the beautiful Chicago Riverwalk when boarding the boat. Be welcomed aboard by the crew as the ship's photographer captures the moment. Arrive early for your cruise, dressed to impress. Be escorted to your table in the dining area. With its gorgeous glass-enclosed design, enjoy Chicago's incredible architecture from your seat. Savor a delicious meal prepared freshly on board. You can also buy a cocktail from the bar. To add to your enjoyment, the dinner cruise includes music by an onboard DJ. During the lunch and brunch cruises, listen to informative commentary on some of the architectural highlights along the river. On Wednesday and Saturday evenings throughout the summer, enjoy the Navy Pier fireworks display. Sample Dinner Menu Choice of starter: Caesar salad, lobster soup Choice of main course: Jumbo lump crab cakes, maple, and mustard glazed chicken breast, braised beef short rib, jumbo forest mushroom ravioli Choice of dessert: Eli’s original cheesecake, duo seasonal sorbet, chocolate decadent cake, odyssey signature warm butter cake Sample Brunch Menu Choice of starter: Caesar salad, Scottish smoked salmon toast, Greek yogurt, and granola parfait, fresh blueberries and strawberries Choice of main course: Cannellini bean shakshuka, maple, and mustard glazed chicken breast, scrambled eggs, raisin and cinnamon french toast Choice of dessert: Eli's New York-style cheesecake, tres con leche flan, triple chocolate mud pie, freshly cut fruit, and fresh strawberries Sample Lunch Menu Starter: Caesar SaladChoice of main course: Jumbo forest mushroom ravioli, maple, and mustard glazed chicken breast, oven-baked Atlantic salmon fillet, braised beef short ribChoice of dessert: Eli's New York-style cheesecake, freshly cut fruit, and fresh strawberries, duo of sorbet

Chicago: Big Bus Open-Top Panoramic Night Tour

8. Chicago: Big Bus Open-Top Panoramic Night Tour

From the top deck of a double-decker bus, experience Chicago at night. Enjoy a 75-minute, panoramic tour and take in unique views of the Chicago skyline, comprised of world-famous skyscrapers and revolutionary architecture. Take a photo overlooking downtown from the Museum Campus in front of the Adler Planetarium. Be amazed by the beautiful water and light display of The Buckingham Fountain as you discover the bustling nightlife of Chicago. Marvel at the magical light show of the one-of-a-kind Art on the Mart, displayed on the facade of the Merchandise Mart. See the city reflect off The Bean (Cloud Gate) at the famous Millennium Park. Experience the city that built the skyscraper, and see architectural marvels like the John Hancock Center, the Wrigley Building, the Chicago Tribune Building, and the Willis Tower. Finish your tour at the Chicago Riverwalk, with the knowledge that you can continue exploring the city with confidence. From the pioneering skyscrapers to the Great Chicago Fire, this night tour will take you on a journey you won't soon forget. Be sure to soak up the exciting atmosphere that makes the Windy City such a fascinating and dynamic place.

Chicago: 45-Minute Private Helicopter Flight for 1-3 People

9. Chicago: 45-Minute Private Helicopter Flight for 1-3 People

Enjoy spectacular views of Chicago from an MD500 helicopter. This helicopter flight over Chicago covers all the important highlights of the city from McCormick Place and Soldiers Field in the South to Wrigley Field in the North. Depart from Schaumburg Regional Airport and see some of Chicago's highlights including the Willis Tower, the John Hancock Building, Navy Pier, and Lake Michigan with its beaches and picturesque shoreline. Also see the Chicago River, Grant Park, Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain, and Museum Campus. Make sure you also look out for Wrigley Field, home to the Chicago Cubs, and the United Center, where the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks both play. This is a private helicopter experience for 1 to 3 passengers. Travel in complete safety with a professional pilot who will provide you with live commentary through noise-canceling headphones. In the summertime, have the added thrill of the doors being able to be off during the flight.

Chicago: Tall Ship Windy Architecture & Skyline Sailing Tour

10. Chicago: Tall Ship Windy Architecture & Skyline Sailing Tour

See the sights of Chicago from a unique waterside perspective on this tall ship tour. Sail around Lake Michigan onboard the tall ship Windy, a 148-foot traditional schooner. Choose from an architecture and history-focused tour or a sunset sail. On the Architecture and Skyline Sail, immerse yourself in Chicago's history and architecture. Take in the skyline, enjoy spectacular views, and discover the Windy City from the water. Learn about the people and plans that shaped Chicago’s most famous sights from the live onboard narration. On the Sunset and Skyline Sail, enjoy panoramic views of the sunset across the Chicago skyline in the company of friends or family. enjoy live educational narration about the sights you see with both options.

Frequently asked questions about Chicago Viewing Points

What are other things to do than Viewing Points that are worth visiting in Chicago?

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Other Sightseeing Options in Chicago

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What people are saying about Chicago

Overall rating

4.4 / 5

based on 579 reviews

The only bad thing about this was that it didn’t last long enough. Loved it. Got soaked just what I expected and wanted, nearly lost my eyelashes due to the speed of the boat. Would defo recommend this.

AMAZING! Dylan our tour guide made the day so much fun! The food was amazing and I was so full by the end of the tour but completely satisfied. As a solo traveler I couldn’t rate it anymore.

Perfect experience, the best way to see Chicago. The guide was fun and knowledgable, and we learned a lot about the amazing history of Chicago.

The tour was awesome. Very knowledgeable and entertaining guide. The views of the city from the boat were outstanding.

Great introduction to Chicago. The boat was comfortable and the guide was very informative and engaging.