Chicago River: 1.5-Hour Guided Architecture Cruise

Chicago River: 1.5-Hour Guided Architecture Cruise

From $40 per person

Experience Chicago’s legendary architecture from the best seat in the house: the river. Enjoy a comprehensive tour with a live fun guide as you navigate through the heart of the city covering all 3 branches of the Chicago River.

About this activity

Free cancellation
Cancel up to 24 hours in advance to receive a full refund
Covid-19 precautions
Special health and safety measures apply. Learn more
Mobile ticketing
Use your phone or print your voucher
Duration 1.5 hours
Check availability to see starting times.
Skip the ticket line
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Live tour guide


  • Pre-purchase your ticket to skip the ticket line and guarantee your place on this popular cruise
  • Experience the architectural river tour which started it all – back in 1935
  • Enjoy year-long cruising with a choice of outside deck-top or indoor climate-controlled seating
  • Learn from expert tour guides the importance of Chicago’s architecture and how it has developed over the years
  • Enjoy true Chicago hospitality with locally sourced food and drinks available at a full service cash bar
Full description
Experience more of Chicago than on any other architectural cruise as you travel not only the main Chicago River but also the North Branch of the river (as far as the Old Montgomery Ward Building) and the South Branch of the river (nearly as far as Chinatown). View all of Chicago's architectural highlights during this comprehensive sightseeing tour. Be entertained by the expert and friendly tour guides as they explain the 130 year-long history behind the skyline, while bartenders and staff keep you comfortable with refreshments.  Choose between the fresh air of the open-air decks or enjoy the comfort of the climate-controlled interiors during your cruise. The tour starts at the Michigan Avenue (DuSable) bridge and goes up the main branch of the Chicago River past Wolf Point, and cruises along the north and south branches of the river, before heading back past the Chicago Riverwalk towards Lake Michigan. On the way, learn about ornate, historic early skyscrapers like the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower, the imposing art deco Merchandise Mart, mid-century skyscrapers like the Mies Van der Rohe AMA Building, the circular Marina City Towers, the majestic Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower and the tallest building in Chicago) the soaring AON Center, and more modernist structures like Aqua, Trump Tower, Nuveen, and the new Vista Tower. During your cruise, have the opportunity to enjoy a full service cash bar featuring authentic Chicago products, including local beer and spirits, and Garrett’s Popcorn. Don’t forget to take a selfie at the Grand Staircase at the front of the boat or pose for a photos at the picturesque stern or bow of this classic vessel.
  • 1.5-hour cruise on the main Chicago River and the North & South Branches
  • Local expert tour guide
  • Choice of outdoor deck or interior, climate-controlled seating
  • Beverages and snacks (available for purchase onboard)
  • Gratuities
Covid-19 precautions
Safety measures in place
  • All areas that customers touch are frequently cleaned

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Prepare for the activity

The details below may change if you update your current selection:

    Meeting point

    400 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611, USA. Present your timed ticket to a uniformed employee standing at the top of the stairs at the northwest corner of the Michigan Avenue (DuSable) Bridge at the foot of the Wrigley Building; they will guide you to the correct dock for your cruise time.

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    Important information

    What to bring

    • Sun hat

    Not allowed

    • Pets (assistance dogs allowed)
    • Weapons or sharp objects
    • Alcohol and drugs

    Know before you go

    • Children under 4 years of age are free
    • Seats on the decks are chosen on a first-come, first-serve basis
    • All bags are subject to search
    • Vessels include restrooms with diaper changing tables, cash bar, and climate control
    • Passengers can bring their own non-alcoholic beverages and food
    • Passengers must wear masks, even when outside
    Customer reviews

    Overall rating

    4.9 /5

    based on 319 reviews

    Review summary

    • Guide
    • Transportation
    • Value for money
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    We went on the evening cruise which was absolutely spectacular. We left at dusk when all the architectural characteristics of the buildings could be easily identified and returned as the skyscrapers were sparkling in the night sky. Our guide Bobby was both entertaining and informative. A river cruise may seem like a touristy cliche, but there were plenty of locals on board as well. This tour can be purchased ahead of time through a third party such as or directly on-site at the Wendella Tours & Cruises boat dock.

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    July 31, 2021

    I didn't know there were so many interesting buildings and landmarks in Chicago until I took this tour! It was facinating! The guide was knowledgable, well-spoken, clear and not at all dry or boring! I wish I could remember half of all the interesting facts he related about the city. It is a much more interesting city since I went on the tour. We went up to the top of the John Hancock building, and I could see some of the buildings he mentioned from there, and now I know what they are. I would highly recommend this tour. It was a hot, sunny day, but being on the river brought a cool breeze and a delightful experience.

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    July 16, 2021

    We had a great time on the Chicago architecture boat tour! We waited for about 15 min before boarding the boat. Highly recommend getting there ~30 min in advance so you can get a great seat in the open area on the boat for the best views during the tour. The tour guide was so informative and explained the history behind basically every building that we passed on the river front. Overall tour was a little over 1.5 hours. Highly recommend! This was my first time but my boyfriend also took the tour with me and it was his second time taking the tour and he still thoroughly enjoyed it.

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    July 15, 2021

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    Product ID: 290485