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Art Institute of Chicago

Marvel at masterpieces from around the world including one of the largest Impressionist collections outside of France

Art Institute of Chicago: Our most recommended tours and activities

Chicago: Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Tour

1. Chicago: Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Tour

From your vantage point on the double-decker sightseeing bus, you'll enjoy panoramic views of Chicago’s finest skyscrapers, including the John Hancock Center, the Willis Tower, and the Wrigley Building. Take in the city's most impressive landmarks while listening to entertaining commentary and insight into Chicago's history. Explore this dynamic city with the freedom to hop on and hop off as many times as you wish to visit attractions such as the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Natural History Museum. You’ll travel along the famous Magnificent Mile, considered one of the great avenues of the world, and continue across the Michigan Avenue Bridge over the Chicago River. This hop-on, hop-off bus tour of Chicago makes it easy for you to explore the city's sights at your own pace. All stops are conveniently located to make navigating your way around the city easy, and with a choice of 24- or 48-hour tickets, you can take your time discovering Chicago. With the 48-hour ticket, enjoy a non-stop Panoramic Night Tour of the city included with your ticket! Admire the illuminated skyline from the Museum Campus and see River North's vibrant nightlife scene.

Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago Skip-the-Line Ticket

2. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago Skip-the-Line Ticket

Pre-book and skip the lines to enter the Art Institute of Chicago, a world-class museum with hundreds of thousands of artworks. Download an audio guide app and get an intimate view of some of the world's most famous art, from iconic contemporary and modern paintings to medieval masterpieces. Experience the Institute’s vast collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, the largest outside The Louvre in Paris. See masterpieces such as Seurat's "A Sunday Afternoon on La Grand Jatte," Renoir's "Two Sisters (on the Terrace)”, and numerous paintings by Claude Monet first-hand. In the “Modern Art” collection, see iconic pieces such as Matisse's “Bathers by a River”, Brâncusi's “Golden Bird”, Magritte's “Time Transfixed”, O'Keeffe's “Black Cross, New Mexico”, Orozco's “Zapata”, Ivan Albright's “Picture of Dorian Gray”, and Lachaise's “Woman (Elevation)”. The “American Art” collection will show you work by renowned artists such as John Singer Sargent, James McNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt, and Winslow Homer, as well as iconic Modernist holdings from Georgia O'Keeffe to the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. In the “Contemporary Art” section, you will see ground-breaking works by Willem de Kooning, Eva Hesse, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Joan Mitchell, Bruce Nauman, Jackson Pollock, Gerhard Richter, and Cy Twombly. Use your pass to the full and browse the Institute’s other collections, including “European Painting and Sculpture Collection”, “Asian Collection”, “African Collection”, and “Medieval Collections”. As you walk through the halls, admire the museum’s architecture by Pritzker Prize-winning Renzo Piano, complementing the museum's original 1893 building, which was built for the World's Columbian Exposition of the same year.

Chicago: Beautiful Lakefront and Museum Campus Segway Tour

3. Chicago: Beautiful Lakefront and Museum Campus Segway Tour

Segways are amazingly fun and there is no better way to tour a world-class city like Chicago than on your own personal set of wheels--a Segway! Our eight-mile Lakefront Chicago Segway tour lets you learn about and view and many Chicago's attractions in a highly unique way. As you glide effortlessly and enjoy the lakefront, you can learn the history of our city from your friendly and professional tour guide. Immerse yourself in the area's countless attractions, gorgeous parks and gardens, and stunning photo opportunities. See sights like Grant Park, the BP Bridge, the Bean, and the Buckingham Fountain, as well as generous views of Lake Michigan and the majestic skyline. Segways are safe to use, easy to learn, and fun to ride. We offer a thorough training session from our certified guides before we begin the tour.

Chicago: Art Institute Skip-the-Line Tour with Guide

4. Chicago: Art Institute Skip-the-Line Tour with Guide

Experience a guided tour around some of the world’s greatest and most iconic art pieces at the Art Institute of Chicago. Avoid the crowds and lines and meet your expert guide at the Institute 30 minutes before opening time. Explore the expansive collection, learning more about both contemporary and classic pieces. Although the museum usually hosts 1.79 million people per year, you will be able to stroll among the pieces at leisure, getting up close and personal with works by famous and infamous artists like Edward Hopper, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol. The Art Institute of Chicago is home to the greatest collection of Impressionist artwork in the world. Your guide will provide expert information on the collection and the museum’s history and hidden gems.

Chicago: Wind and Souls Adults Only Guided Ghost Tour

5. Chicago: Wind and Souls Adults Only Guided Ghost Tour

Enjoy a spine-tingling walking tour learning about Chicago's gruesome and haunting past with a local guide. Hear stories about paranormal activity in the Alley of Death, a librarian's spirit that haunts a local library, the ghost of Al Capone, and a hotel that is said to have inspired Steven King. Begin your tour at The Chicago Theater and hear the tragic story of how 602 people lost their lives at the Iroquois Theater in the 1903 fire. Continue walking to the nearby James M. Nederlander Theater and learn about the paranormal activity in the Alley of Death. Move on to the Chicago Cultural Center to hear about Frederick H. Hild, the second librarian in the history of Chicago's public library system, who is claimed to be haunting the local library.  Walk to nearby Lincoln Park and understand why it's considered to be more of a burial ground than an actual park. You will then stop by The Art Institute of Chicago and discuss how more than 300,000 items are considered to be haunted.  Then it's time to visit Congress Triangle Garden to view the Congress Plaza Hotel. Considered to be one of the most haunted hotels in the country, Congress Plaza Hotel is said to have served as a source of inspiration for a short story written by Stephen King. Complete your tour at the Exchequer Restaurant and Pub, where you will hear about Al Capone's dark past, and how people claim his ghost haunts the entirety of Chicago.

Chicago: Treasures of the Golden Age Walking Tour

6. Chicago: Treasures of the Golden Age 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. 

Eastside Chicago: City Exploration Game

7. Eastside Chicago: City Exploration Game

Start the adventure at The Art Institute of Chicago. It will take you between 1.5 to 2 hours to complete and you can also explore at your own pace. Pause the game and resume anytime from the location where you paused it. You will finish at the Fountain of the Great Lakes. As you solve challenges, the story unfolds and exact directions on your phone will guide you to the next location. So, are you up for an exciting city game? After your booking, you will receive an email on how to download the game to your phone. You can play on your own, in a large group, or in several smaller groups that compete against each other and meet at the final stop of the game. For larger groups, one person can purchase access for the entire group by selecting the number of people in the group. All group members will be able to download and play the city game on their phones. Alternatively, each person can make their own purchase.

Chicago: Millennium Park Self-Guided Walking Tour

8. Chicago: Millennium Park Self-Guided Walking Tour

On this self-guided walking tour where your phone is your personal guide, explore Millennium Park’s best sights and dive into some of Chicago’s little-known history along the way. This tour has been developed by local guides, creative writers, and professional voice artists. Begin your tour at the park’s north end, by Harris Theater for Music and Dance. From there, simply follow the audio instructions and the route via the app that will be your guide, narrator, and map in one. Head south toward the Pritzker Pavilion while learning some background on how the park came into existence. As an added perk, most stops along the tour have animated videos allowing you to visualize what you cannot see, such as snapshots from different centuries or interior rooms. Once at the impressive pavilion, learn about the vast array of performances held here and the high-tech design which makes it all possible, as well as the man behind it: Jay Pritzker. Get the full story on this precocious kid who went from building model cities out of his grandfather’s scrap wood to designing some of the most famous structures in the country. As you continue, you’ll come to the park’s so-called Secret Garden. Take a stroll along a peaceful boardwalk surrounded by plant life and listen to the little-known symbolism behind the garden’s design. Pause for a fantastic look at Chicago’s skyline before heading past the Art Institute of Chicago and ending up at the astonishing Crown Fountain. Get familiar with the intricately detailed face towers of the fountain, then head north toward Chicago’s most famous sculpture. At last, arrive at Cloud Gate, known by the locals as The Bean. Learn about the artist behind it as well as the technique he used to create such a huge, smooth surface. At the end of your tour, don’t forget to snap some surreal pictures of your reflection.

Chicago: Must See Chicago 90 minute Walking Tour

9. 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.

Other Sightseeing Options in Art Institute of Chicago

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What people are saying about Art Institute of Chicago

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 1,061 reviews

Candace was an excellent tour guide. Getting off at each stop was a fantastic way to see all the points of interest that Chicago has! The headsets were also a great way to learn more about the history of the area. We were only visiting for 1 day, and felt the HOHO Big bus tour was an excellent way to explore downtown, and all the sights! Made great memories!Thank you!

This is the best way to see a city if you don’t have too much time. You can choose which stops to hop off or continue to the next stop. One of our drivers, Candace, was awesome. She narrated the tour herself, made it very funny and informative, and even made a trivia with a prize for the winner! Great experience overall!!

It was a lot of fun, we liked looking at all the public art. Parts were more difficult than others, so you don’t have to think too much into it.

No better way so see that much of the beautiful Chicago lakefront. The only way to cover that much ground and be that close up.

Great value! Easy to use & good information-a fun way to learn and explore Millennium Park.