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Chicago Loop Culture & history

Our most recommended Chicago Loop Culture & history

Chicago: Museum of Illusions Timed Entrance Ticket

1. Chicago: Museum of Illusions Timed Entrance Ticket

Experience the impossible with an entry ticket to the Museum of Illusions Chicago. Immerse yourself in a world where your eyes will be in a constant battle with your brain. Located in the heart of the Chicago Loop, this brain-boggling museum is a one-of-a-kind destination all about optical illusions. Illusions challenge you to see things differently and reveal a lot about how your brain interprets reality. Experience more than 60 visual and educational exhibits featuring holograms, stereograms, optical illusions, and immersive rooms that are designed to tease the senses and trick the mind. Illusions include: defying gravity in the Tilted Room; growing and shrinking in the Ames Room; walking on walls in the Rotated Room; experiencing infinite space in the Infinity Room; confusing your mind in the Vortex Tunnel; posing in the Beuchet Chair; meeting your doppelgangers at the Clone Table. Then spend some time in the Smart Playroom with games that will stimulate and challenge your mind. Enjoy some friendly competition with friends and family while simultaneously improving your cognition, problem-solving skills, and memory. Overall, the museum is designed to encourage you to have fun while learning the mechanics behind each and every illusion you experience. And don't forget your camera or smartphone when you visit as there are eye-fooling photo-ops around every corner.

Chicago: Gangsters and Ghosts 2-Hour Walking Tour

2. Chicago: Gangsters and Ghosts 2-Hour Walking Tour

See a different side of Chicago on a family-friendly guided tour and hear the tales of the ghosts that haunt the city. Explore the famous Chicago Loop district with interesting stories hidden behind each turn. Embark along the Chicago Loop, known as the vice district during the 1920s and 30s. See the places where gangsters such as Al Capone used to party, make deals, and carry out business. Visit haunted locations and old crime scenes led by historians. Stop at the Congress Hotel, Death Alley, and the Palmer House. Enjoy a refreshment along with way, with frequent stops and a restroom break.

Chicago: City Minibus Tour with Optional Architecture Cruise

3. Chicago: City Minibus Tour with Optional Architecture Cruise

Start with a 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 10-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, 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 as the city’s most renowned landmarks, such as the John Hancock building and more.

Chicago: 3-Hour Private Speakeasy Cocktail VIP Tour

4. 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: Treasures of the Golden Age Walking Tour

5. 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: Art Deco Skyscrapers Walking Tour

6. 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: Private 3-Hour Al Capone Gangster Tour

7. Chicago: Private 3-Hour Al Capone Gangster Tour

Experience amazing stories of true crime coming to life on this three-hour private tour. Visit many of the old venues where gangsters used to operate, including old speakeasies and historic hotels. Your expert historian guide will accompany you and your private group in luxury accommodation to historically significant locations in the city. View crime scenes immortalized in vintage news footage, the theater where the law caught up with Dillinger, and the restaurant where the North Side Gang riddled Al Capone’s motorcade with rounds from their Tommy guns. See the site of the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, and sit in Al Capone’s booth at the Green Mill. Finally, visit the location where Public Enemy #1 John Dillinger was assassinated by the FBI.

Chicago: Must See Chicago 90 minute Walking Tour

8. 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.

Chicago: American Writers Museum Flexible Date Entry Ticket

9. Chicago: American Writers Museum Flexible Date Entry Ticket

Learn about the history of writing and how it has shaped American culture with a ticket to the American Writers Museum in Chicago. Stroll through exhibits that appeal to all 5 senses, explore the intricacies of language through games, and write your own story on a vintage typewriter. Enter the museum on any day within 14 days of your chosen date. Connect with your favorite authors and writings from more than 5 centuries while exploring and discovering works of every type, including poetry, lyrics, speeches, drama, fiction, nonfiction, and journalism. Explore the permanent exhibits of the museum. Start with the Nation of Writers Gallery and follow the interactive timeline. Stop at the surprise bookshelf and engage all 5 of your scenes. Watch videos, see dioramas, and marvel at the Word Waterfall. Next, head to the Mind of a Writer Gallery for insights into how writers think. Learn about the daily discipline and habits necessary to get the work done and the deep understanding of the language required to make the writing sing. Continue to the Chicago Gallery honoring Chicago poets, novelists, journalists, and writers who found inspiration from the Windy City. Next, bring your kids to the Children's Gallery and relax in one of the cozy reading areas or the interactive reading space.

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What people are saying about Chicago Loop

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 653 reviews

Lizzy, our guide was so sweet! You walk through the beautiful city, stop here and there and listen to interesting facts and stories. Halfway through there‘s a break for getting some brownies and using the bathroom. Would definetly recommend! Lizzy always made sure everybody has a great time and no one gets lost and stays with the group. Loved it!

Loved this tour! Our tour guide was wonderful and super knowledgeable and engaging. The history of Chicago was very intriguing and it was so nice to be able to get out and safely explore at night. Loved every bit of the gangster history! Would definitely recommend!

Awesome tour! Learned a lot about the city itself and prohibition. Furthermore, Kai the tour guide know really everything about the city and you could ask her everything! Thanks for the nice tour

Fun way to spend time in Chicago! It was easy to keep up with and hear our guide, and she led us to gems in the city we wouldn't have found otherwise!

It was a very fun tour and we learned a lot about the city that we didn't know before. Lizzie was an excellent guide!