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Things to do in River North

Our most recommended things to do in River North

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: Big Bus Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Tour

2. 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: Mob and Crime Bus Tour

3. Chicago: Mob and Crime Bus Tour

Experience Chicago’s underworld of criminals and gangsters on a luxury bus tour. Find out how some of the world’s most famous criminals, mobsters, and gangsters conned their way through the city. Ride comfortably in an enclosed, climate-controlled bus, as you see famous Chicago crime scenes that range from the 19th century through modern times. Unlike Chicago walking tours, this Mob and Crime Tour isn’t affected by the Windy City weather. Learn from a local expert tour guide giving interactive live commentary about Al Capone, the Untouchables, the Chicago Mob, John Dillinger, Terrible Tommy O'Connor, H. H. Holmes, the Chicago Black Sox, Leopold and Loeb, bank heists, Cap George Streeter, and more. Grab your camera for a drive-by shooting of the historic criminal courthouse, a Chicago architectural landmark where some of Chicago's most notorious cases were tried. You'll also view historic video footage, receive an informative pamphlet with photos, and can even take part in a crime quiz. Stake out crime scenes like the Biograph Theatre, Holy Name Cathedral, Clark Street Bridge, and other Chicago landmarks. See the site of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, one of Chicago's most notorious murder scenes. Get off the bus and walk the path that notorious Chicago gangsters John Dillinger and Hymie Weiss followed just before their deaths. Travel into the criminal past of Chicago's River North, Gold Coast, Lincoln Park, Old Town, Loop, and Magnificent Mile neighborhoods.

Chicago: Ultimate Food Walking Tour with Tastings

4. Chicago: Ultimate Food Walking Tour with Tastings

Your Chicago food tour will take you through the River North neighborhood — the original Chicago foodie destination — to sample some world-famous Chicago dishes, local favorites, and sweet treats. Choose between a shared group or private tour. Start with a very well-known Chicago dish: the Chicago-style hot dog. Perfect for summers at a baseball game (cheering on the Cubs or Sox of course), or for a quick lunch on a workday, this local take on a hot dog is a debate-worthy food in Chicago and is taken very seriously by locals. You will also sample the world-famous Chicago deep-dish pizza! An entire meal unto itself, this staple of the Chicago food scene originated in River North in the 1940s when workers and families needed filling dishes at low prices.  After you’ve filled up on pizza and hot dogs, continue your tasting journey with a classic Chicago sandwich: Italian beef. This hearty meal came about during the Depression, and it’s here to stay. Conclude your Chicago foodie experience here, with easy access to the ‘L’. Even if you say you’ll never be hungry again, don’t forget to note some great dinner recommendations from your guide.

Chicago Crimes Night Tour

5. Chicago Crimes Night Tour

Uncover how some of the world’s most famous criminals, mobsters, and gangsters conned their way through the Windy City. Ride in an enclosed, climate-controlled bus, as you explore famous Chicago crime scenes ranging from the 19th century through to modern times. Learn about Al Capone, the Untouchables, the Chicago Mob, John Dillinger, The Lady in Red, Captain George Streeter, Frank "The Enforcer" Nitti, Bugs Moran, Johnny Torrio and more. Grab your camera for a drive-by shooting of historic and architectural landmarks, and stake out crime scenes like the Biograph Theatre, Holy Name Cathedral and St. Valentine's Day Massacre, one of Chicago's most notorious murder sites. Walk the path that notorious Chicago gangsters John Dillinger and Hymie Weiss followed just before their deaths. Travel into the criminal past of Chicago's River North, Gold Coast, Lincoln Park, Old Town, Loop, and Magnificent Mile neighborhoods.

Chicago: 3-Hour Private Speakeasy Cocktail VIP Tour

6. 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.

360 Chicago Observation Deck with Crime and Mob Bus Tour

7. 360 Chicago Observation Deck with Crime and Mob Bus Tour

First, explore Chicago's underworld of criminals and gangsters on a 1.5-2 hour true crime history bus tour with stops on and off the bus. See the places where infamous mobsters conned their way to riches as you visit historic crime scenes. Learn about Al Capone, the Untouchables, the Chicago Mob, John Dillinger, and more. Second, go to 360 Chicago, one of the city's most impressive landmarks. Ride up to the 94th floor and soak up panoramic views of Chicago from the observation deck. See the city’s famous skyline as well as the lakefront and 4 neighboring states.

Chicago: Food, History and Architecture Tour with Tastings

8. Chicago: Food, History and Architecture Tour with Tastings

Discover the architecture and food scene of Chicago on a guided day tour. Learn more about the city's history and vibrant food scene as you discover various bustling neighborhoods and historic areas. Start the tour under the dazzling marquee of the Chicago Theater. Explore the bustling city where the first stop is inside one of the best-preserved spaces built for shopping in Chicago, featuring an unforgettable atrium at its core. Then, head towards the Chicago Pedway. This unique feature of Chicago is used by locals and commuters daily to move about the city in a network of underground tunnels. Make your way above ground at City Hall, and admire its classic interior design and architecture. Next, visit a spot for a tasty sweet treat, and a local tradition, Chicago-style popcorn. Take a stroll along the Chicago Riverwalk while taking in views of several soaring buildings, including Marina Towers, the Britannica Building, and the Sears Tower (now known as the Willis Tower). From there, visit another delicious destination for locally made chocolates from a Chicago staple. Meander through the beautiful lakefront parks along Michigan Avenue, finishing at picturesque Millennium Park, home to the iconic Bean sculpture. Travel by ‘L” train or ride share with your guide from Millennium Park up to the River North neighborhood, the original Chicago foodie destination. Your food tour starts with a very well-known Chicago fare, the Chicago-style hot dog. Every Chicagoan has his or her own preference as to how the dog should be made, and you’ll get a chance to try your guide’s favorite version. Next up is the world-famous Chicago deep-dish pizza. An entire meal unto itself, this staple of the Chicago food scene originated in River North in the 1940s when workers and families needed filling dishes at low prices. Your guide will take you to a pizza place that’s an icon to Chicago natives to try the real deal for yourself. After you’ve filled up on pizza and hot dogs, continue your tasting journey with a classic Chicago sandwich, the Italian beef. Sample this sandwich in a real Chicago institution with no-frills decor. Our tour ends here, and your guide will be happy to direct you back to your accommodation or share tips for what else to see in the city.

Chicago: River North Walking Food Tour

9. Chicago: River North Walking Food Tour

Come enjoy the luxury and opulence of the Magnificent Mile and Gold Coast on this guided food tour, a tour through the historically affluent River North neighborhood. Explore the remarkable and historic River North neighborhood known for its extreme affluence, typified by the Magnificent Mile and the Gold Coast. Boasting Chicago's highest concentration of restaurants and art galleries, the River North neighborhood has become a favorite destination for foodies. You will taste foods from five unique restaurants and bakeries, and your food tour guides are experts not only at temporarily filling stomachs, but at plumping up tour-goers' local food knowledge too. This 3-hour walking tour offers a look into the history and culture of the neighborhood in between each of your 5 food tastings. While the stops are subject to change, we usually stop to taste at five of the following food places: • The Doughnut Vault (est. 2011): Food and Wine Magazine named it the best doughnut in America in 2012 • Lou Malnati's (est. 1971): Rudy Malnati is generally considered to be the inventor of Chicago deep-dish pizza • Xoco- (est. 2009): Top Chef Masters winner Rick Bayless is one of the best known chefs for Mexican cuisine in America • Iberico- (est. 1992): Serving you the most authentic tapas and regional specialties from all across Spain • Al's Beef- (est. 1938): Founder Al Ferrari invented the sandwich in Chicago's Little Italy back in 1938 • Fabcakes Bakery- (est. 2012): Delicious pastries inspired by the seasons Your informative guide will point out examples of historic architecture and beautiful public spaces that help make the River North neighborhood one of Chicago's most notable.

Chicago: Private 3-Hour Al Capone Gangster Tour

10. 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.

Available activities

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What people are saying about River North

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 2,700 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!

very nice tour. they also had warm indoor seating during winter