Chicago Loop
Architecture Tours

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Our most recommended Chicago Loop Architecture Tours

Chicago River: 1.5-Hour Guided Architecture Cruise

1. Chicago River: 1.5-Hour Guided Architecture Cruise

Experience more of Chicago by boat than on any other architectural cruise. See architectural highlights and enjoy an open-air deck or climate-controlled interior as you travel the main River and its north and south branches. 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. It then 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. Don't miss 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 photos at the picturesque stern or bow of this classic vessel.

Chicago: Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Bus Tour

2. Chicago: Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Bus Tour

From your vantage point on the double-decker sightseeing bus, you'll enjoy panoramic views of Chicago’s finest skyscrapers, including the 875 N Michigan, the Willis Tower, and the Wrigley Building. Take in the city's impressive landmarks as your tour guide provides entertaining commentary and insight into Chicago's history. Enjoy exploring 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 Museum. You’ll travel down the famous Magnificent Mile, considered one of the great avenues of the world, and continue across the Michigan Avenue Bridge over the Chicago River. The bridge connects the north and south sides of the city. This hop-on, hop-off bus tour of Chicago makes it easy for you to explore the city's sights at your own pace. There are 12 stops, where you can hop off to visit attractions and explore places of interest. The 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 sightseeing bus tour through Chicago at night too. Admire the illuminated skyline from the Museum Campus and see River North's vibrant nightlife scene. Take one loop from Michigan Avenue to the Magnificent Mile and the Cultural Mile. In addition, be sure to take advantage of admission to the Chicago Architecture Center, included if an appropriate option is selected, to dive deeper into the city that invented the skyscraper. So don't wait, just hop on an exciting journey through Chicago.

Chicago Food Tasting: 2.5-Hour Guided Walking Tour

3. Chicago Food Tasting: 2.5-Hour Guided Walking Tour

Combine an enjoyable walk around Chicago's downtown to see some of the city’s top sites with stops to sample some of the city’s famous tastes. On this 2.5-hour guided walk, you'll get to taste the foods Chicago is best known for doing right. Enjoy deep-dish pizza, the original Italian pastries, Chicago-style hot dog, and a classic Italian beef sandwich. Enjoy a VIP craft beer sample for an additional fee. Along the way, you’ll see some of Chicago's most iconic spots including Millennium Park, the Chicago Riverwalk, the Art Institute, and the famous Bean. By the end of the tour, your stomach will be full of delicious food and your head will be full of fascinating knowledge about Chicago. During the colder months, the tour makes use of the unique underground Pedway system that connects much of downtown and keeps you warm and cozy. On warmer days, you’ll walk at street level to enjoy the large promenades of the loop. The leisurely walking pace is suitable for people of all fitness levels.

Chicago: City Minibus Tour with Optional Architecture Cruise

4. Chicago: City Minibus Tour with Optional Architecture Cruise

Start with pickup from your downtown Chicago hotel. Board your climate-controlled minibus and embark on your guided sightseeing tour. Begin in the heart of downtown Chicago, at The Loop. Here you'll see incredible architecture, including the world's first skyscrapers. You'll even go inside one that features a beautiful lobby designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The stop also includes views of The Chicago Board of Trade and the Willis (Sears) Tower. After The Loop, head through Grant Park, which is known as the city's front yard. The centerpiece of the park is the Buckingham Fountain. Museum Campus is up next, with three museums, Soldier Field, and the most spectacular skyline views in the city. After a ten minute photo stop, travel around Millennium Park, featuring The Bean, before heading up north along Wacker Drive, which parallels the Chicago River. Arrive in the fancy Gold Coast nightlife area and residential neighborhood - one particularly interesting sight here is the original Playboy Mansion. Then you'll take a trip through part of Lincoln Park, and end the tour by zipping along Lake Shore Drive, past beaches, and old mansions, before being dropped off at your hotel. For those wanting the ultimate Chicago experience, add on the option of the world-famous architecture cruise of Chicago. After your minibus tour and a short break, climb aboard a state-of-the-art cruise vessel for a 75-minute cruise of all three branches of the Chicago River. Marvel at the architecture that has made the city so legendary. Gain insights into the buildings and engineering of a city that gave birth to the skyscraper and is the spiritual home of modern American architecture. An 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 and more.  

Chicago: Secret Food Tour

5. Chicago: Secret Food Tour

Sample the culinary delights of Chicago with the help of a fun and enthusiastic foodie guide. Be amazed by the city's eclectic mix of architecture and public art along the way. Taste delicious bites as you explore the city's central Loop district for 3 hours. Get better acquainted with what sets this friendly Midwest metropolis apart from other destinations and get a great insight into the art, architecture and everyday life in the city. Benefit from your guide's local knowledge and get tips to help you sightsee and explore the food and dining scene some more in your own time.

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. 

Chicago: 3-Hour Private Speakeasy Cocktail VIP Tour

7. Chicago: 3-Hour Private Speakeasy Cocktail VIP Tour

Spend an evening visiting the Chicago speakeasies that have been open since the Prohibition Era in the 1920s, many preserved in their original conditions. With your own private group, enter by way of secret entrances and enjoy the same cocktails ordered by infamous Chicago gangsters and bank robbers at these venues nearly a century ago. Relive the glamor of the 1920s while listening to stories of the rampant racketeering and bootlegging of the era.   Alcohol is available for purchase at the three to four different speakeasy stops. Your private tour guide will make Prohibition Era drink recommendations and tell you the stories behind them. Travel around with your young, professional guide and be chauffeured in luxury transportation, ranging from a luxury SUV to a full-sized luxury motor coach.

Chicago: Art Deco Skyscrapers Walking Tour

8. Chicago: Art Deco Skyscrapers Walking Tour

Tour the lobbies of five opulent Art Deco skyscrapers built near the banks of the Chicago River during the business boom of the Roaring '20s. Art Deco abounds in Chicago. The style made its way to the city in the 1920s, after it was showcased at an international art exposition in Paris. It was widely seen at the 1933-1934 Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago as well. Influenced by Cubism and the art and architecture of the ancient Middle East, Art Deco can be found in popular motifs like zigzags, octagons, sunbursts and flowers. Art Deco reflects the era’s fun-loving optimism with lavish materials and geometric ornaments. Discover the origins of Art Deco while admiring buildings like the Carbide and Carbon Building (now the St. Jane Hotel), the Chicago Motor Club Building (now the Hampton Inn), the colorful, but often overlooked, Trustees System Service Building (now the Century Tower) and the Engineering Building—all of which are designated Chicago landmarks. This tour ends at the Merchandise Mart.

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.

The Chicago Theatre Marquee Tour

10. The Chicago Theatre Marquee Tour

Explore the grandeur of The Chicago Theatre, which opened in 1921, on a 1-hour guided tour. Your guide will accompany you through the elegant lobby, sweeping staircase and the majestic auditorium, which is complete with murals above the stage and on the ceiling. During your visit, you will get access to various sections of the seven-story, 3,600-seat auditorium and an intimate view of the 29-rank Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ, the first musical instrument having attained a city landmark status.  Next, view artist signatures on the dressing room walls, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Dolly Parton and many more. You will finish your tour on a high and feeling like a star as you get the chance to stand on the famous Chicago Theatre stage. Once called “the Wonder Theatre of the World”, the Chicago Theatre hosts over 175 events a year, bringing together the world’s brightest stars and greatest productions.

Frequently asked questions about Chicago Loop Architecture Tours

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Other Sightseeing Options in Chicago Loop

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What people are saying about Chicago Loop

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 630 reviews

Great trip. Fairly comfortable seating. We sat near the back with our backs to the stairwell. This was nice as it added the support of the boat itself to our turning to look. Go. You won't be sorry.

We had an extremely knowledgeable and personable guide on our cruise, the boat was clean and comfortable, overall a great way to learn about Chicago architecture and history at the same time.

Once you have your pass, you can make the day your own. A nice variety of places to learn and explore.

Really nice trip. Amazing guide, I don’t think it was too long as there was so much to see!

It was a great time. The narration was very informative. Awesome tour