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 276 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

    The boarding was easy and the location convenient. There was ample seating on the boat, which departed at 6:30 pm, and that was a good time to leave because the air was a little cooler. Our guide was superb - very knowledgeable, friendly, and funny. She pointed out a lot of interesting sites and gave some history about each. I learned a lot about Chicago and it's architecture. There's a bar on board with a good selection of adult beverages, and the bathrooms were clean and easy to access. Easily one of the highlights of my four days in Chicago!

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    July 10, 2021

    Very fun and informative. The guide gave us ideas of additional places to go see during our visit in Chicago. Recommend if you are looking for a fun way to see the city. Only criticism, make sure you pay attention to starting point. When booking it gave me the choice between Navy Pier or Trump Tower…we went to Navy Pier only to find they don’t offer services there and we had to round back to Michigan Ave. Was worth it but still a little stressful.

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    June 26, 2021

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    Product ID: 290485