Merchandise Mart

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Merchandise Mart: Our most recommended tours and activities

  • Chicago River: 1.5-Hour Guided Architecture Cruise

    1. Chicago River: 1.5-Hour Guided Architecture Cruise

    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 toward...

    The tour was great. The only problem was when my wife and I were checking in and the young man said that my ticket was invalid. The only reason we were able to go on the tour is that there was another gentleman there who knew that I had already purchased two tickets

  • Chicago River Architecture Cruise: Skip-the-Ticket-Office

    2. Chicago River Architecture Cruise: Skip-the-Ticket-Office

    Climb aboard a state-of-the-art cruise vessel for a 60- or 75-minute cruise of all three branches of the Chicago River, and marvel at the architecture that has made the city so legendary. Get an insight into the buildings and engineering of a city that gave birth to the skyscraper and is the spiritual home of modern American architecture. Your expert guide will lead you down the Chicago River to uncover hidden gems, as well the city’s most renowned landmarks, such as the John Hancock building, Trump Tower, and more. Relax with a glass of something cold from the cash bar, as you cruise the Windy City’s waterway, and learn its status as a modern metropolis and one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

    we certainly learned a lot on the boat. Our guide was very knowledgeable and personable and the whole crue made us feel welcomed . i will recommend this short boat ride to anyone interested in history and architecture.

  • Chicago River: 45-Minute Family-Friendly Architecture Cruise

    3. Chicago River: 45-Minute Family-Friendly Architecture Cruise

    Admire Chicago’s impressive architecture from a unique perspective aboard a 45-minute cruise sailing down the Chicago River, which features a full-service cash bar and live commentary tailored to entertain the whole family. Experience the best of the Chicago River from Lakeshore Drive to the Willis Tower, navigating along the South branch of the river, before heading back past the Chicago Riverwalk towards Lake Shore Drive and Lake Michigan. Be entertained by the fun and experienced tour guides as they explain the history behind Chicago’s buildings along the river and the exceptional architects who created this ever-changing skyline. Enjoy the most relaxing way to sightsee in Chicago- a perfect way to explore the city free of traffic noise and congestion. Make sure to visit the full-service cash bar featuring authentic Chicago products, including local beer and spirits. Explore the o...

    We had a great time! Shorter ride was perfect for young kids. Boat was clean and staff was friendly.

  • Chicago: 90-Minute River and Lakefront Cruise at Night

    4. Chicago: 90-Minute River and Lakefront Cruise at Night

    Experience the magic of Chicago at nighttime and watch the city's glorious skyscrapers, historic buildings and modern marvels come to life with millions of twinkling lights. Relax and unwind at the end of the day on a cruise which not only lets you enjoy the scenic Chicago River, but also takes you through the Chicago Harbor Lock and out onto Lake Michigan where you can admire epic views of the sparkling Chicago skyline and shoreline. Throughout the ride, listen to lively narration about Chicago's rich history as the onboard guides point out the many sights of the city including Buckingham Fountain, Willis Tower, Aon Center, John Hancock Building, Museum Campus, Marina City, Wrigley Building, Chicago Tribune Building, Navy Pier, the Lighthouse and more. This tour also gives you the unique experience of passing through the Chicago River Lock System, while learning about the operation an...

    Great activity and perfect timing on the fireworks. The only improvement I would suggest is an expanded food menu.

  • Chicago: Family Fun Urban Adventure River and Lake Cruise

    5. Chicago: Family Fun Urban Adventure River and Lake Cruise

    Discover Chicago’s stunning skyscrapers, historic buildings, and modern marvels on this fun, family friendly boat cruise. Relax and unwind as you admire scenic views from the Chicago River and the Chicago Harbor Lock. Then move out onto Lake Michigan where you can gaze upon the entire city skyline and shoreline. During the boat ride, enjoy lively narration and stories about Chicago’s rich history as your knowledgeable guides point out the many sights of the city including Willis Tower, Aon Center, John Hancock Building, Museum Campus, Marina City, Wrigley Building, Chicago Tribune Building, Navy Pier, the Lighthouse and more. The tour also gives you the opportunity to experience passing through the Chicago River Lock System. Listen to your guide explain the full workings of the lock and feel the boat rise as you enter Lake Michigan, and then lower again when returning to the Chicago Ri...

    Relaxing and informative, a view and perspective from the river that most don’t get to see.

  • Chicago: Riverwalk Self-Guided Walking Tour

    6. Chicago: Riverwalk Self-Guided Walking Tour

    Learn about Chicago's history, culture, and architecture on a self-guided tour via an app. Enjoy animated videos allowing you to visualize what you cannot see, such as snapshots from different centuries or interior rooms. Download the app before you head to the starting point by the historic DuSable Bridge. Learn about this picturesque bridge and the iconic terracotta Wrigley Building. From there, head west, past Wabash Bridge, once voted America’s Most Beautiful Bridge. Snap a photo or two. After that, see the Chicago Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a moving tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives during the Vietnam War. Next, stop by the 600-foot Marina Towers. Learn how these towers function as a “city within a city.” Then, head to the Dearborn Street Bridge and hear why an angry mob once gathered here with axes before continuing your stroll. As you walk, listen to the tale of one o...

Other Sightseeing Options in Merchandise Mart

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What people are saying about Merchandise Mart

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 2,893 reviews

Jack, our guide, made the tour! He was extremely knowledgeable and entertaining! It’s probably one of the best guided tours I’ve taken and I’ve traveled around the world. He’s a keeper!

I've been on a few different boat tours and this one was amongst the best. Very engaging and informative guide.

We had a great time! Shorter ride was perfect for young kids. Boat was clean and staff was friendly.

Was an incredible experience!!! I love ❤️ The Windy City

Absolutely loved seeing the architecture of Chicago!