Water activity

Chicago: 1.5-Hour Lake and River Architecture Cruise

Activity provider: Wendella Tours & Cruises
Water activity

Chicago: 1.5-Hour Lake and River Architecture Cruise

Activity provider: Wendella Tours & Cruises

From US$ 42 per person

Skip the ticket line for Chicago’s only architecture cruise on both Lake Michigan and the Chicago River. Learn about Chicago's internationally-known architecture from expert local guides as you discover the city from riverfront to shoreline.

About this activity

Free cancellation
Cancel up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund
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Covid-19 precautions
Special health and safety measures are in place. Check your activity voucher once you book for full details.
Duration 1.5 hours
Check availability to see starting times.
Skip the ticket line
Live tour guide


  • Learn from expert tour guides about what makes Chicago's architecture so amazing
  • Choose between outside deck-top or indoor climate-controlled seating on world-class vessels
  • Journey through the legendary Chicago Lock, linking Lake Michigan with the Chicago River
  • Pre-purchase your ticket to skip the ticket line and guarantee your place on this often-sold-out tour
  • Enjoy a full service cash bar featuring authentic Chicago products, including local beer and spirits, and Garrett’s Popcorn
Full description

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.

  • 1.5-hour cruise on the Chicago River and Lake Michigan
  • Local expert tour guide
  • Choice of outdoor deck or interior, climate-controlled seating
  • Beverages and snacks (available for purchase onboard)
  • Gratuities

Select participants and date



Meeting point

The closest address to most docks is 400 N Michigan Avenue, Chicago (near the Wrigley Building). From there, you can check in with a dock employee who can direct you to your boarding area.

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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

  •  Passengers can bring their own non-alcoholic beverages and food
  •  This tour lasts about 90 minutes, but can run slightly longer in high summer when the Chicago lock is busy
  •  Vessels include restrooms with diaper changing tables, a cash bar, and climate control
Customer reviews

Overall rating

4.8 /5

based on 775 reviews

Review summary

  • Guide
  • Transportation
  • Value for money
  • Service

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Star rating:

The tour is super nice and really recommended, however more organization is needed on behalf of the tour company. We were there 30 mins in advance but somehow our boat was fully booked and took us 30 mins to understand what to do. At the end, after quite a few back and forth, they booked us for the tour after. Very unpleasant experience, but we made it and the tour operator was excellent and professional on the boat.

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October 17, 2022

This was my first visit to Chicago. I'm in my late 50s. I marveled at the amazing architecture of downtown Chicago. I've been to NY, LA, SF, Sao Paolo, Bangkok and others. I feel the architecture of downtown Chicago beats them all in terms of beauty and style. Learning about the architects and the inspirations for their designs was my favorite part of my Chicago vacation. The narrator was fantastic.

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September 9, 2022

Kennith was AMAZING! One of the best tour guides I've ever had. Glad we sprung for the tour that wasn't just the river but took us out on the lake as well. Great views. Expect for the tour to take longer later in the day as boats have to wait at the lock to get back into the city and boat traffic is much busier in the afternoon.

August 29, 2022

Product ID: 293160