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Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan: Our most recommended tours and activities

Chicago: 45-Minute Family-Friendly Architecture River Cruise

1. Chicago: 45-Minute Family-Friendly Architecture River Cruise

Admire Chicago’s impressive architecture from a unique perspective aboard a cruise sailing down the Chicago River, which features an indoor and outdoor deck, along with live commentary tailored to entertain the whole family. Treat yourself to a full-service cash bar at your own expense. Experience the best of the Chicago River from Lakeshore Drive to the Willis Tower, navigating along the South branch of the river, before heading back past the Chicago Riverwalk towards Lake Shore Drive and Lake Michigan. Be entertained by the fun and experienced tour guides as they explain the history behind Chicago’s buildings along the river and the exceptional architects who created this ever-changing skyline. Enjoy the most relaxing way to sightsee in Chicago, exploring the city free of traffic, noise, and congestion. Make sure to visit the full-service cash bar featuring authentic Chicago products, including local beer and spirits. Explore the open-air decks that allow you to feel the cooling river breeze and see the city from many vantage points that provide perfect photo opportunities.

Chicago: Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Regular & Express Ticket

2. Chicago: Navy Pier Centennial Wheel Regular & Express Ticket

Experience the views from the Centennial Wheel at the Historic Navy Pier in Chicago with this attraction ticket. Be suspended over Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Chicago River. Marvel at the Chicago skyline and gaze out over the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan. Choose between two options: With the Regular Barcoded ticket, skip the ticket line and enter the line to board the wheel. The Fastpass Express ticket allows you to skip both lines, and gives you VIP access. Both tickets allow you to visit within 7 days of your scheduled ticket date. Enjoy the Centennial Wheel, which was built in 2016 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Navy Pier opening. Featuring 42 gondolas, each holding 8 people, it operates year-round. They also feature LED lighting, padded seats, TV screens, and speakers, as well as panoramic windows on all 4 sides. A ride on the wheel gives you plenty of time to enjoy these panoramic views of Chicago as they unfold around you, and allows you to visit the top three times. Relax and take in the view, or get your camera out to snap pictures of the ever-changing Chicago landscape.

Chicago: Fireworks Cruise with Lake or River Viewing Options

3. Chicago: Fireworks Cruise with Lake or River Viewing Options

Take in the amazing fireworks display off Navy Pier on a boat cruise. Briefly explore the architecture on Chicago River’s main branch before either heading out through the Chicago Locks onto Lake Michigan or staying inside the Locks to watch the fireworks. All cruises start by sailing inland up the Chicago River to Wolf Point, with some light narration provided focusing on history and architecture. Admire Chicago’s impressive architecture at twilight from either the indoor climate-controlled cabin or the airy outdoor deck. The cruise then heads back past the Chicago Riverwalk towards Lake Shore Drive, the Chicago Lock, and Lake Michigan for the spectacular fireworks show by Navy Pier. While on the boat, make sure to visit the full-service cash bar featuring authentic Chicago products, including local beer and spirits. Choose from the following options: River Fireworks Cruise from either Michigan Ave or the Riverwalk This shorter 45 to 60-minute River Fireworks Cruise option watches the fireworks display from the mouth of the Chicago River before returning to the dock. This cruise is perfect for families with children, couples, or groups of friends who are enjoying a night out on the town. Lake Michigan Fireworks Cruise from Michigan Ave This 2 to 2.5-hour Lake Michigan Fireworks Cruise goes through the Chicago Lock System, an American engineering marvel, and out onto Lake Michigan. The vessel will cruise along the shoreline with contemporary music and will ultimately stop on the lake and float alongside the fireworks display.

Chicago: Lake Michigan Buffet Brunch, Lunch or Dinner Cruise

4. Chicago: Lake Michigan Buffet Brunch, Lunch or Dinner Cruise

See the sights of Chicago from onboard the Spirit of Chicago with a brunch, lunch, or dinner cruise on Lake Michigan. Enjoy a buffet dining experience as you sail through the Windy City and delight in panoramic views of its skyline. Board your vessel at Navy Pier and receive a personal greeting. Get your photo taken by the ship's photographer to capture the memory before being seated at your private table. After settling in, savor your brunch, lunch, or dinner buffet consisting of freshly-prepared entrees, main course, and desserts, while listening to the onboard DJ's tunes. View the city's imposing towers like John Hancock Center, Aon, Trump Tower, and Willis Tower. After your meal, play games like giant Jenga and shuffleboard, or bust out some moves on the dance floor. Don't forget to visit any of the 3 climate-controlled decks to watch the skyscrapers of Chicago's distinctive skyline glide by. SAMPLE BRUNCH BUFFET MENU Early Risers Seasonal Fruit Breakfast Pastries Scrambled Eggs Breakfast Meats Breakfast Potatoes Late Risers Organic Mixed Field Greens Green Bean Salad Red Beetroot Salad Roasted Broccoli Florets Baked Ziti Pasta Mashed Potatoes Oven-Baked Atlantic Atlantic Flounder Filet Honey and Sesame Chicken Hand-Carved, Slow-Roasted Strip Loin Dessert Raspberry Mousse Lemon Pound Cake and Fresh Strawberries Coconut Vanilla Cake Red Velvet and Chocolate Chip Brownie SAMPLE LUNCH AND DINNER BUFFET MENU Salads Organic Mixed Field Greens Organic Spinach and Kale Salad Green Bean Salad Kidney Bean, Black Bean, and Chickpea Salad Red Beetroot Salad Bow Tie Pasta Salad Vegetables, Potatoes, and Pasta Roasted Broccoli Florets Creamed Corn and Cheddar Cheese Casserole Baked Ziti Pasta Mashed Potatoes Entrées Oven-Baked Atlantic Flounder Filet Honey and Sesame Chicken Italian Beef Meatballs Braised Beef Short Ribs (dinner only) Dessert Seasonal Fruit Raspberry Mousse Lemon Pound Cake and Fresh Strawberries Coconut Vanilla Cake Carrot Cake Red Velvet and Chocolate Chip Brownie (dinner only) The menu is subject to change. Please inform your server if anyone in your party has a food allergy.

Chicago: Go City All-Inclusive Pass with 25+ Attractions

5. Chicago: Go City All-Inclusive Pass with 25+ Attractions

The Chicago All-Inclusive Pass by Go City provides free admission to the city’s top activities, attractions, and tours, offering the ultimate in convenience and savings. Choose durations of 1, 2, 3, or 5 days at a low, pre-paid price and save up to 45% compared to buying separate attraction tickets. Take a trip up to SkyDeck Chicago, visit the Field Museum, have fun at Navy Pier, and enjoy a cruise. All these and more are included with your Chicago All-Inclusive Pass. The Chicago All-Inclusive Pass comes with a digital guide including useful attraction information. Use it to help you decide what to do, where to go, and how to get there. Activities, attractions, and tours included with the Chicago All-Inclusive Pass: • Shedd Aquarium (reservations required) • SkyDeck Chicago (reservations required) • Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Chicago: 1-Day Classic Tour • 360 CHICAGO • Adler Planetarium • Museum of Science and Industry • Field Museum • Shoreline Architecture River Cruise • Shoreline Classic Lake Tour • Chicago Children's Museum • LEGOLAND Discovery Center • Bike Chicago: 4 Hour Bike Rental • Chicago History Museum • Lincoln Park Zoo Rides • Museum of Contemporary Art • Robie House • Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Tour • Panoramic and Scenic North Side Tour • Historic Chicago South Shore Tour • Grand Tour • Chicago Theatre Tour • Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Home • 10pin Chicago 90-minute Bowling & Pizza (reservations required) • American Writers Museum Attractions and tours are subject to change. Check the digital guide included on your confirmation voucher for the full list of inclusions, opening times, and reservation instructions.

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

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

From your vantage point on the double-decker sightseeing bus, you'll enjoy towering 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 unique and exciting 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. With a choice of 24 or 48-hour tickets, you can take your time discovering Chicago.

Chicago: Lake Michigan Skyline Sightseeing Cruise

7. Chicago: Lake Michigan Skyline Sightseeing Cruise

Immerse yourself in the sights and learn about Chicago’s history and architecture during a cruise on Lake Michigan. Take advantage of skip-the-line entry privileges with a barcoded ticket that lets you proceed directly to the boarding line. Whether you’re a local or a visitor to the city for the first time, taking in the spectacular views of Chicago's skyline from the lake makes for a perfect outing. You’ll see the city as never before while listening to commentary on Chicago's history and architectural gems. Simply hop on board, sit back, relax, and enjoy as you admire Chicago's most significant landmarks and striking buildings that make up the city's skyline that has appeared in so many movies and TV shows.

Chicago: 1.5-Hour Romantic Sunset Cruise

8. Chicago: 1.5-Hour Romantic Sunset Cruise

Relax as you glide over the Chicago River and into Lake Michigan on this cruise. Enjoy the glow of the sunset on Chicago's sparkling skyline. Have the option to purchase delectable drinks and snacks at the onboard bar as you sail. Start your sunset cruise on the Chicago River at Michigan Avenue. Make your way along the main branch of the river towards Lake Michigan before entering the Chicago Locks, a modern engineering marvel, that will transfer the vessel onto the great Lake Michigan. The vessel will cruise along Lake Michigan as the sun sets behind the wonderful skyline offering several amazing views. Your local tour guide will give a very brief commentary along the Chicago River and entrance to Lake Michigan, but most of the 1.5-hour cruise is spent without narration, leaving you to watch the sun put on a beautiful display with the City skyline. Admire the many angles of the Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan, one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world. Capture magical views of Chicago's twin super-skyscrapers, the famous Willis (formerly Sears) Tower and the John Hancock Building. You'll also get to admire 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. During your cruise, treat yourself at the full-service cash bar featuring authentic Chicago products. Try local beer and spirits and Garrett’s Popcorn. Choose between the fresh air of the open-air decks or enjoy the comfort of the climate-controlled interiors during your cruise. 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: Lake Michigan Gourmet Brunch/Lunch/Dinner Cruise

9. Chicago: Lake Michigan Gourmet Brunch/Lunch/Dinner Cruise

Discover Chicago's sparkling skyline from Lake Michigan on a sightseeing cruise. Savor a mouthwatering meal while listening to music played by a live DJ. Sip on unlimited coffee and tea while gazing out at sights like Navy Pier, Grant Park, and Willis Tower. Board the boat at Navy Pier and enjoy a personal greeting. Smile for the ship's photographer to capture the memory, then embark on an elegant dining cruise along the Chicago shoreline. After being seated at your private table, tuck into your gourmet meal. Enjoy a creative meal prepared fresh by the onboard chef. Following your meal, dance to live music or relax on any of the 3 decks as you watch the skyscrapers of Chicago's distinctive skyline glide by.  Sample Brunch Menu:Early Riser:Breakfast Pastries Scrambled EggsBreakfast Meats Breakfast Potatoes French Toast Late Risers:Kale Quinoa SaladGreen Goddess Pasta SaladCaesar Salad Oven Roasted WhitefishKid's Station Hand Carved Strip Loin Hand Carved Oven-Roasted Turkey Dessert: Cakes, Brownies, Seasons Fruit Sample Lunch and Dinner Menu: Starters (choice of one): Caesar Salad Lobster Bisque (dinner only) Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail (dinner only, available for additional price) Seafood Tower (dinner only, available for additional price) 2.5oz 1/2 Lobster Tail (dinner only, available for additional price) Main course (choice of one):Jumbo Forest Mushroom Ravioli Oven-Baked Atlantic Salmon Filet Oven Roasted Frenched Chicken Breast with Rosemary and Thyme Braised Beef Short Rib Pan-Seared Fresh Pacific Cod (dinner only) 8 oz USDA Choice Filet Mignon (dinner only, available for additional price) 18 oz USDA Prime Striploin (dinner only, available for additional price) Two 5 oz Broiled Maine Lobster Tails (dinner only, available for additional price) Dessert (choice of one): Eli's New York Style Cheesecake Duo of Sorbet Freshly Cut Fruit and Fresh Strawberries Triple Chocolate Mud Pie (dinner only) Odyssey Signature Warm Butter Cake (dinner only) French Macarons (dinner only, available for additional price) Champagne Chocolate Truffles (dinner only, available for additional price) Menu items are subject to change.

Chicago: 1.5-Hour Lake and River Architecture Cruise

10. Chicago: 1.5-Hour Lake and River Architecture Cruise

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.

Available activities

  • Entry tickets
  • Guided tours
  • Water activities
  • City cards
  • Hop-on hop-off tours
  • Other experiences
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Other Sightseeing Options in Lake Michigan

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What people are saying about Lake Michigan

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 5,247 reviews

awesome, interesting & beautiful! make sure you know where you’re going & arrive 15 min early. our friends uber dropped them in the wrong spot so we barely made it & had to stand during the tour which honestly wasn’t bad, but the earlier you arrive you’ll get your choice of seats.

Easy to book. Full refund if cancelled 24+ hours before use. Walked right up to ferris wheel entry; no need to wait at tix line. No issues at all. Great ride.

Winter is a great season to ride. Express ticket not necessary, short line moves quickly. Compartment heated!

John was fantastic! It was a professional tour and had open book questions that we're fun and inclusive.

Was on my daughters bucket list and she really enjoyed it.