There's a reason the Chicago Architecture Foundation's beloved tour has been named the Best Boat Tour in the U.S. The center’s official tour goes into detail on more than 50 buildings both on the riverfront and beyond. In doing so, they give a fascinating history of the city and those that built it—plus you can easily upgrade your ticket to include entry to just Chicago Architecture Center itself. It’s a proper design enthusiasts’ dream. This one leaves from the Chicago First Lady Cruises dock and lasts around 90 minutes. For a real treat, gather friends for the serene evening cruise for just a few dollars more.
Sure, walks along Michigan Avenue and State Street are nice and rooftop bars offer plenty of pretty sights—but the best way to see downtown Chicago is from the water. Both Chicago River and Lake Michigan offer unparalleled vantage points for taking in the city’s world-famous architecture and the breathtaking Chicago skyline, with many of the tours providing unique insights into the city’s culture and history. From architecture tours and history lessons to straightforward sightseeing affairs, or from romantic excursions to pirate-themed family fun, there's a Chicago cruise for every groove. Below we’ve got the essential list of the city’s finest waterborne tours, including tall-mast ships and glitzy speed boats. Bon voyage!
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