Chicago Architecture River Cruise

Chicago, United States

From USD 50.36

Select Date and Travellers

Free cancellation
Up to 24 hours in advance.
  • 1 hour 15 minutes (approx.)
  • Mobile ticket
  • Offered in: English


Cruise down the Chicago River to see the city's famous architecture on this boat tour. With commentary from your onboard guide, watch the spectacular skyline glide by, including more than 40 notable buildings like Navy Pier, the Wrigley Building, and the John Hancock Building. Cover all three branches of the Chicago River, passing the East Bank Club, the old Post Office Building and the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower).
  • Discover all three branches of the Chicago River with your guide, an expert in architecture
  • Enjoy the best vantage point to admire the distinct city skyline and architecture
  • See more than 40 buildings including the Wrigley Building and Willis Tower
  • Discover the major events that helped shape the architectural history of Chicago

Why Travellers Choose This Tour

This ultra-flexible cruise runs more than 20 times daily from Navy Pier and Michigan Avenue.

What's Included

  • Guided architecture cruise of the historic Chicago River
  • Live commentary on board
  • Drinks (available for purchase)

Meeting And Pickup

Meeting points

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End point

This activity ends back at the meeting point.

What To Expect

Make your way to either Navy Pier or Michigan Avenue (depending on option chosen) for your cruise departure. Board your riverboat and find a comfortable seat; a restroom and sometimes a full bar are available on the boat. Listen as your guide, an architecture expert, gives you an introduction to the city's landmarks. 

Along the scenic route, see buildings by world-famous architects including Mies van der Rohe, Helmut Jahn, and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. A boat on the river is the best vantage point to admire the distinct city skyline.

Pass by more than 40 distinctive buildings, including the John Hancock Center, the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower), the Wrigley Building, and the Lyric Opera House. Listen as your guide recounts the two major events that helped shape the architectural history of the city. Learn about how the invention of balloon-frame construction revolutionized how homes were built, and hear the dramatic story of Chicago's rise from the Great Fire of 1871. Both of these milestones led Chicago to become one of the cradles of modern American architecture.

Your cruise ends at its starting point.

Chicago River

1 hour 15 minutesAdmission Ticket Free

Chicago Skyline (Pass By)

Navy Pier (Pass By)

Skydeck Chicago - Willis Tower (Pass By)

Tribune Tower (Pass By)

John Hancock Center (Pass By)

Additional Info

  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • All boats have full restrooms and a full bar
  • Some boats are single deck vessels, the type of vessel you are placed on cannot be guaranteed
  • Wheelchairs or other walking assistance equipment are not provided.
  • Tour times cannot be changed.
  • Near public transportation
  • Departure locations cannot be changed
  • Beginning November 8, 2022 through April 2023, tours will be 60 minutes in length.
  • Cruises are dog-friendly
  • Most travellers can participate
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 250 travellers

Cancellation Policy

You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance of the experience for a full refund.

  • For a full refund, you must cancel at least 24 hours before the experience’s start time.
  • If you cancel less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time, the amount you paid will not be refunded.
  • Any changes made less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
  • Cut-off times are based on the experience’s local time.
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s cancelled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund.

Traveller Photos

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Featured review
Our Guide was very knowledgeable and funny. We had a very memorable time on our tour! The details about the buildings and architecture was fascinating! Highly recommend this tour to anyone visiting Chicago!!


10,250 reviews
Total review count and overall rating based on Viator and Tripadvisor reviews
Reviews by Viator travellers.
Showing 1-10 of 10,250 reviews
History of the tall beauties along the river
Dave_H, June 2023
We were on the ‘Riverview’ and our docent was Jim. What a great job he did! I learned how to stop skyscrapers from excessively swaying in the Chicago wind. There’s 3 methods. Take the excursion and find out!😀
Fun, relaxing, informative, and beautiful!
Carrie_E, June 2023
Such a fun activity to do with our girls during our visit to Chicago. Ricky was our guide and did a fabulous job. Thanks for the memories!!
Beautiful Day on the River
Doug_S, June 2023
Views were incredible and river was beautiful. Great information from the tour guide…all around wonderful experience!
Excellent Tour
Kristin_K, June 2023
Sam was awesome-very informative and an excellent tour guide. His presentation was flawless and his knowledge on the history of Chicago was spot on.
A fun tour
gszrz6y8gj, June 2023
Great views. Fun way to see the architecture and hear some history of Chicago. Would definitely recommend!
Wonderful experience
Xiaoyu_J, June 2023
An absolutely must-have experience in Chicago. Shorelines service is great; our tour guide Stephanie is wonderful! The guide is very informative educational and entertaining. Good for all age groups. Highly recommended!
Awesome Chicago
Anita_W, June 2023
The history of Chicago and the amazing buildings! Great tour guide! Great experience! Lots of Beautiful scenery!
A Beautiful Day in May.
Gloria_L, June 2023
This is definitely a must do on your visit to Chicago. We loved it and will return with friends and family. ❤️
Really interesting and fun, I would recommend it.
Kathryn_M, June 2023
I especially enjoyed learning about the different styles of architecture throughout Chicago’s history, and being able to identify the styles of other buildings. And I liked the story of the cow that did NOT start the great fire.
Don’t miss this tour
Michelle_L, June 2023
Amazing experience. Highly recommend. The view from the water and the stories shared by the guide were impactful.
Do the nighttime tour!
Beth_G, June 2023
Guide and it was absolutely fantastic. We did the nighttime tour on a Wednesday and we got to see fireworks. Could not recommend more. It was amazing!
The knowledge and...
Mike_C, May 2023
The knowledge and personality of the tour guide. The knowledge and personality of the tour guide. The knowledge and personality of the tour guide.
Excellent experience and...
David_M, May 2023
Excellent experience and service we learned so much about the Windy City my son loved the Batman story
Highly recommend
Bekah_S, May 2023
Loved this tour! It’s a great way to see the city, learn some history, and get some Chicago recs from locals.
Great experience
Andrea_C, May 2023
Everyone was very helpful and accommodating. The experience was great. The tour guide spoke very fast and it was hard to understand what he was saying. It felt like he had everything memorized and was just trying to get through the information about every building but besides that it was a good activity to do with our friends who were traveling to visit us from Canada.
Fun Tour
Karen_D, May 2023
We had a beautiful day on board the Architectural Cruise. The boat gives you a unique perspective to view Chicago’s skyline that you couldn’t get from a street vantage point. Jack, our tour guide, kept it light and fun!
Chicago History
Sherika_H, May 2023
Being able to see the different history of Chicago was an experience that I will ever forget. My family really enjoyed themselves.
Tourist Must Do!
Angela_C, May 2023
The tour Kevin was nice, quirky and informative. Great way to see the and find new restaurants along the water
We really enjoyed our...
Fonda_S, May 2023
We really enjoyed our guide Antonio. He was knowledgeable and a very good storyteller. His wit and storytelling was really entertaining regardless of age group.
Chicago is my kind of town.
The tour guide Joe was excellent. He was knowledgeable and very funny. I only wish the tour lasted longer.

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