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NBC Tower

NBC Tower: Our most recommended tours and activities

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: 1.5-Hour Lake and River Architecture Cruise

2. 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.

Chicago: Evolution of the Skyscraper Walking Tour

3. Chicago: Evolution of the Skyscraper Walking Tour

This 90-minute tour is a chronological overview of Chicago's architecture, starting with its growth on the Chicago River, its rebirth after the Great Chicago Fire and its development into a commercial and cultural hub. See how architects adapted building styles to meet the fashions of their era and used cutting-edge engineering to build taller than ever before. This tour is an enticing overview which introduces you to the most important stories of Chicago architecture. On this tour, you'll learn about the city's beginnings on the river, its rebirth after the Great Fire and its development into a commercial and cultural hub, all while viewing structures in the order they were built. These buildings—including the Page Brothers Building, Old Dearborn Bank, the Chicago Motor Club, the Carbide and Carbon Building, NBC Tower and more—tell the story of how architectural technology evolved over time. You'll see up close how each building has its own unique design, often reflecting the style that was popular or prevalent when it was constructed.

Chicago: Self-Guided Audio Walking Tour

4. Chicago: Self-Guided Audio Walking Tour

Start by downloading the Action Tour Guide app, which will function as your personal tour guide, audio tour, and map all in one. Once downloaded, your tour through Millennium Park will begin at the park’s north end. From there, you’ll walk toward the famous Pritzker Pavilion, the park’s centerpiece. Once at the pavilion, you’ll learn about the biggest performances held here, the high-tech design, and the man behind it all: Jay Pritzker. Next you’ll see the park’s “Secret Garden,” a beautiful green space featuring a peaceful boardwalk and fantastic skyline views. After that, you’ll spot the Art Institute of Chicago and continue on to the incredible Crown Fountain, known for its intricately detailed “face towers.” At last, you’ll arrive at Cloud Gate, known by the locals as “The Bean” (but don’t tell the artist)! Get to know the wacky artist behind it, find out how he created such a huge, smooth surface, and don’t forget to snap some pictures of your reflection! The Millennium Park tour concludes here. Your Riverwalk tour begins by the historic DuSable Bridge. Here, you’ll learn not only about this picture-perfect bridge, but also about the iconic Wrigley Building. From there, you’ll stroll west along the riverside, past what was once voted America’s Most Beautiful Bridge. After that, you’ll stop at the Chicago Vietnam Veterans Memorial for a moment of somber reflection. The next stop is hard to miss: It’s the Marina Towers, looming 600 feet over the river. Find out why people say these towers are a “city within a city,” then keep walking to the Dearborn Street Bridge. Hear the full story of why an angry mob once descended on this bridge with axes, then continue your stroll. As you walk, your audio guide will also recount the tale of one of the deadliest shipwrecks in American history… which took place right on the Chicago River! Up next is the humbly-named (but not so humbly designed) Merchandise Mart. This gorgeous example of the art deco style is sure to pique the interest of any budding architects! Next, you’ll reach Wolf Point, where, nearly 200 years ago, Chicago’s very first hotel once stood. Then you’ll get a good look at the Tribune Tower, home to the famous Chicago Tribune. This skyscraper also contains pieces of historic buildings from across the world, including the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Berlin Wall! After that, you’ll come face to face with NBC’s Chicago headquarters, which look suspiciously like the iconic 30 Rockefeller Center in the Big Apple… because it was modeled after that iconic skyscraper! Finally, you’ll stop by the last bridge separating the Chicago River from the great lake beyond. It’s a great place to admire the scenery, and an even better one to snap some photos for your Insta. The Riverwalk tour concludes here. This bundle is the easiest, most flexible way to see the Windy City. So what are you waiting for?

Other Sightseeing Options in NBC Tower

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What people are saying about NBC Tower

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 2,311 reviews

This was a wonderful hour and a half guide down the river. I had already walked Chicago for five days with an architectural book in my pocket, and I still thoroughly enjoyed this tour. The sights from the river open up views to buildings you don’t normally see walking. 90% of the tour guide information was not in my tour book. We went on a cold December day, roughly 17° with 15 mile an hour wind down the river. I had a long sleeve shirt, vest, a windproof suit, mittens, and I was just warm enough to be comfortable, except for my feet. I wish I would have worn by snow boots. However, they sell handwarmers down in the lower level of the theory, so I bought a pair and put them in my shoes; solved the problem:)

Beautiful boat ride! The views and the architecture are amazing! Tour guide was a lot of fun, many jokes and interesting information. If you do it during the wintertime wear warm clothes, it’s pretty cold.

Great tour. Although it was super cold. We went inside and purchased their delicious hot chocolate and it kept us warm to go back up and the tour. The staffs were very professional and friendly.

Worth every penny, even braving extreme cold! Had excellent indoor (warm) options too; I liked being on deck to get a full view of all the wonderful structures!

Bobby, our tour guide, was excellent. He was very knowledgeable & entertaining.