Chicago Architecture Center
Walking Tours

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Our most recommended Chicago Architecture Center Walking Tours

Treasures of Chicago’s Golden Age: 2-hour Walking Tour

1. Treasures of Chicago’s Golden Age: 2-hour Walking Tour

This Historic Treasures of Chicago tour covers the most significant historic architectural landmarks in Chicago’s Loop. Your expert guide, trained by the Chicago Architecture Center, will focus on great cultural buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which harkened back to earlier time periods and were designed in revival styles such as Beaux Arts, neo-Georgian and neo-Gothic. Marvel at exteriors and interiors of dazzling beauty and startling originality, and get a glimpse inside some of the city's most beloved buildings.    The highlights of this walking tour will include the Chicago Cultural Center, home to the world's largest Tiffany dome; the iconic Marshall Field's department store, now Macy's on State; and the Palmer House, a beautifully restored hotel from the 1920s. 

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Chicago's Modern Skyscrapers Guided Walking Tour

2. Chicago's Modern Skyscrapers Guided Walking Tour

Join a tour which focuses on Modernism, the dominant visual style of the 20th century, which continues to strongly influence design in the 21st century. Modernism has affected the shape of everything from houses to furniture and appliances, cars and even fashion. But the most spectacular effect of Modernism has been the modern skyscraper made of steel or reinforced concrete with vast areas of glass. It is a product of the age of mass production. Chicago is widely considered the birthplace of the skeleton frame, which forms the core of the modern skyscraper. On your tour, learn about how two men made a lasting impact on Chicago, Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and politician, Mayor Richard J. Daley. Enjoy superb views of the riverfront while walking along the River Walk. Highlighted buildings include Marina City, the Daley Center and the IBM Building.

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Chicago: Must See Chicago 90 minute Walking Tour

3. Chicago: Must See Chicago 90 minute Walking Tour

Starting at the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC), this tour gives you an overview of many of the must see buildings and landmarks in the City of Chicago. Led by an expert guide who has been rigorously trained by the CAC to be equal parts storyteller and educator, you will get a fantastic introduction to the city’s wide variety of architectural styles, construction methods, and materials. There is so much to see downtown, and this tour makes it easy and fun to learn about some of the buildings that make Chicago’s architecture world-class. There are lots of photo opportunities along the way, so be sure to bring your camera! The tour covers three of the main focal points of Downtown Chicago – the Chicago Loop, the heart of historic Chicago; the Chicago River, the lifeblood of the city; and Millennium Park, where the iconic “The Bean” sculpture is located. Landmark buildings covered on this tour include soaring modernist skyscrapers (Willis Tower, John Hancock Center, and AON Building), buildings paying homage to classical styles (Wrigley Building, Tribune Building, the Chicago Theatre, and the Art Institute of Chicago), Art Deco edifices (Carbide & Carbon Building and the Chicago Board of Trade Building), and recently completed skyscrapers (Aqua & Trump Tower). Finally, admission to the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) is also included with your walking tour ticket. CAC exhibits focus on Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods, housing types, leading architects and future projects, and include the largest scale model of the city, with more than 4,250 miniature buildings and a cinematic backdrop animating key moments in its history. The stories of the city begin at the CAC.

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Evolution of the Skyscraper: 90-Minute Chicago Walking Tour

4. Evolution of the Skyscraper: 90-Minute Chicago Walking Tour

This 90-minute tour is a chronological overview of Chicago's architecture, starting with its growth on the Chicago River, its rebirth after the Great Chicago Fire and its development into a commercial and cultural hub. See how architects adapted building styles to meet the fashions of their era and used cutting-edge engineering to build taller than ever before. This tour is an enticing overview which introduces you to the most important stories of Chicago architecture. On this tour, you'll learn about the city's beginnings on the river, its rebirth after the Great Fire and its development into a commercial and cultural hub, all while viewing structures in the order they were built. These buildings—including the Page Brothers Building, Old Dearborn Bank, the Chicago Motor Club, the Carbide and Carbon Building, NBC Tower and more—tell the story of how architectural technology evolved over time. You'll see up close how each building has its own unique design, often reflecting the style that was popular or prevalent when it was constructed.

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Chicago: Icons Guided Architecture Walking Tour

5. Chicago: Icons Guided Architecture Walking Tour

See the best of Chicago's architecture and walk past buildings from the 1890s to the present. Discover the latest in architecture from Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, and Adrian Smith. Make seven stops in downtown Chicago, featuring the famous 19th-Century Commercial style, Beaux-Arts, Mid-Century Modern and Postmodern buildings. Compare and contrast a wide range of buildings with varying architectural styles and see how older structures connect to new skyline additions. Finally, finish your tour with a visit to beautiful Millennium Park, where world-class art and architecture combine, creating a unique urban fabric.

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Other Sightseeing Options in Chicago Architecture Center

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What people are saying about Chicago Architecture Center

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 47 reviews

It was a modest but very informative walk that encompassed a few blocks around the Architecture Foundation Center. The Center itself has a very interesting miniature of the Chicago Loop and a good array of books and potential gifts in their 'store'. We had been on boat tours before, but this was the first walking tour. We really enjoyed the walk, the information and the questions we got to ask!

Great visit, 2 hours went so fast in company of a very interesting and friendly guide. I am sure we can do it again and learn new things about Chicago architecture. The guide does it on a free will basis so do not hesitate to donate to the foundation he/she works for !

Our docent Bob was fantastic!!! Knowledgeable, friendly and kept us moving. Thanks So very much Bob and CAC.

Guide was wonderful, knowledgable, experienced, didn't mind walking through a snow storm.

Very good tour walking through the city when the weather was great!