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Shoreline Architecture River Cruise Chicago

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Wendella Chicago River Architecture Tour

Shoreline Sightseeing, Chicago: Guided Boat Tour around the City

The Wendella Chicago River Architecture Tour begins at the iconic Wrigley Building and takes visitors on a 75-minute trip along the Chicago River. Trained guides narrate the tour, which departs from Michigan Ave. and Wacker Drive. The cruises run on weekends from March 12 to April 8 and daily from April 8 through November 1 concessions are available for purchase.

Wendella Boats

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Shoreline Architecture River Cruise is featured on the Chicago Go City Pass. There are two pass options that will help you save a lot in Chicago!

The All-Inclusive Pass includes anything you would want to do in Chicago over a short period of time and is great if you are just coming into town for 2 to 3 days!

The Explorer Pass lets you choose a certain number of attractions to visit, and you have 60 days to use it! Its great for locals!

Architecture River Tour With Shoreline Sightseeing

Shoreline Sightseeing is a unique and memorable way to discover the beauty and history of Chicagos famous architecture.

Discover why Shoreline Sightseeing’s Architecture River Tour, which was rated the #1 Tour in America by TripAdvisor, is a must-do adventure for both locals and visitors from around the world! Led by Shorelines experienced, educated, and entertaining docents, this 75-minute tour includes details, facts, and the history of more than 40 buildings that line the Chicago River. Find out how Chicago rose from the ashes of the Great Chicago Fire to become the birthplace of the skyscraper and how Chicago has ties to architecture marvels like the Burj Khalifa.

Enjoy breathtaking views and outstanding photo opportunities as you cruise down all three branches of the Chicago River. Shoreline Sightseeing has two docks, both conveniently located at popular Chicago attractions. Depart on your open-air boat from the NW corner of the Michigan Ave Bridge or from Polk Bros Park at the southwest corner of Navy Pier.

Shoreline Sightseeings Architecture River Tour departs daily and frequently March November. Advanced tickets are recommended to secure a spot on this one-of-a-kind tour. Shorelines tour schedule is posted daily at


Shoreline Sightseeing is a unique and memorable way to discover the beauty and history of Chicagos famous architecture.

Contact Details

  • Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave.ChicagoIL60611

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Shoreline Water Taxi Service

Another affordable taxiing service is Shoreline, which offers a route on the lake as well as the river.

We like this service for their unique lake route, which is the cheapest way to view the skyline while on Lake Michigan notably the Museum campuses.

Duration: 15-40 minutes, depending on the chosen route.


  • Taxis operate 10 am-6 pm, at least every 20 minutes

Price Options and Packages:

There are no reservations for Shoreline taxis, as they are a commuter service. Tickets can be bought on site.

Single Ride Extended River Route | Lake Route

  • $10 – Adults

Single Ride River Route

  • $6 – Adults

Lunch And Dinner Cruise Discounts

Chicago River architecture tour second only to Vatican in popularity ...

In addition to the various night tours offered on Lake Michigan, youll also find a nice selection of dinner cruises as well.

Instead of focusing on the excitement of a fireworks show, this boat trip is all about enjoying a meal while you drift alongside the city and experience the skyline in style.

There are a total of 3 different ways to save money on lunch and dinner cruises in Chicago:

  • Group Rates
  • Military Discount
  • Free Drink

Although the discounts available for these services arent always big, even 10% – 20% off a cruise that costs $100 on average is going to be a pretty good deal.

Its also worth noting that the free drink offer from each cruise company is likely one of the easiest discounts to enjoy.

NOTE: This section lists the most popular dinner cruise companies, but there might be a few we miss which are sold through websites like Groupon and LivingSocial.

If you can’t find exactly what you need here, we recommend checking these discount sites to find a service that fits your expectations.

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Architecture River Tour From Navy Pier

  • Live tour commentary provided in English
  • What’s excluded
  • Children 2 and younger are complimentary.
  • Check-in is 15 minutes prior to your booked departure time.
  • Please Note: Between November 1st and April 15th, the Architecture River Tour will only last for 60 minutes.
  • All guests are required to wear face masks

What you can expect

Equal parts boat and buildings, this river cruise gives you a from-the-water perspective of Chicago skyline and up-close views of its most iconic structures. Board an open-roofed vessel and float with the current as an architecture expert shares the fascinating history behind the Windy City’s most renowned buildings.

Hop onto your vessel at Navy Pier, steer toward the Chicago Rivera 156-mile system of streams and canalsand cut directly through the heart of the city. Once vital to the early shipping success of Chicago, this winding body of water now offers the perfect platform for admiring its surrounding architectural marvels.

Your cruise takes you past more than 40 points of interest, including the Tribune Towera neo-Gothic building constructed in 1925and the Willis Tower, the second-tallest building in the United States. Crane your neck up at the John Hancock Tower, a skyscraper equipped with an impressive observation deck perched 1,000 feet high.

Please note: all guests are now required to wear face masks

Cleaning and safety practices

  • High-touch surfaces cleaned and disinfected
  • Vehicles and venues cleaned with disinfectants
Social distancing

Mercury Cruises Urban Adventure Tour

Mercury offers a great architecture boat tour option for families. The companys Urban Adventure Cruise is just that: passengers will board the Mercury where live narrators will take guests through the history of Chicagos legendary skyscrapers, landmarks, and architectural marvels. After 90 minutes spent boating around Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, guests will return to shore well-equipped with all kinds of fun Chicago history! For a parents-only cruise, check out Mercury Urbans Chicago River and lakefront night cruise, where youll see the river illuminated against the romantic backdrop of the city skyline.

To book: $35

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Frequently Asked Questions About Shoreline Sightseeing Boat Tour

Where does the Classic Lake Tour go?Do I need reservations for the Classic Lake Tour?What information is provided on the Classic Lake Tour?What is covered on the Architecture River Tour?Do I need reservations for the Architecture River Tour?Will cruises operate rain or shine?Are your boats covered?Do your boats go through the locks?Are snacks and beverage available for purchase?Do the boats have restrooms onboard?Are your boats accessible to people with disabilities?Do you allow dogs on board?

Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Tour

Architecture River Cruise in Chicago, USA

Price $19.00 $41.00

Explore Chicagos Amazing Architecture and Dramatic History with special savings for advance online ticket purchases.

Health and Safety protocols include systematic deep cleaning, protective masks required for passengers and crew on all Shoreline vessels, and social distancing for boarding and while on the tour.

Buy tickets online using code WEB2021 for $3 off adult, $1 off child Architecture Tour tickets. limit four tickets.

All sales are credit and debit purchases no cash accepted. Schedules and complete information posted daily at or call 222-9328.

Discover why Shoreline Sightseeing’s Architecture River Tour was named as TripAdvisor’s #1 Travel Experience in the United states for 2020! Led by Shorelines expert and entertaining docents, this 60-minute tour includes the dramatic history and inside stories behind more than 40 architectural landmarks lining the Chicago River route. Find out how Chicago rose from the ashes of the Great Chicago Fire to become the birthplace of the skyscraper and a leader in modern American architecture.

Enjoy breathtaking views and outstanding photo opportunities as you cruise down the Chicago River. Tours depart daily, weather permitting, from Shoreline’s dock at the northeast corner of the Michigan Avenue Bridge, 401 North Michigan Avenue. Additional tours will be added from Shorelines Navy Pier dock once the Pier reopens for the 2021 season.

Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Tour

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Architecture River Tour Major Highlights

Tribune Tower: Situated just steps from the ChicagoRiver, right along bustling Michigan Avenue, the Tribune Tower is a trueChicago landmark. This unmistakable neo-Gothic building was built in 1925 tohouse the offices of the Chicago Tribune,and it remains a beautiful symbol of the Windy City to this day.

Wrigley Building: Located just across the street fromTribune Tower, the Wrigley Building is regarded as one of the citys greatarchitectural gems. Its iconic clock tower has loomed over Michigan Avenue andthe Chicago River for almost a century, and is a must-see structure for anyvisitors to downtown Chicago.

Though the famed corncob towers ofMarina City are a perennial favorite of sightseers, the Marina City complexitself takes up nearly an entire city block of legendary State Street. Its hometo a remarkable number of amenities, including a marina, multiplerestaurants, a concert venue, and a bowling alley.

Merchandise Mart: Checking in at a whopping 4 million squarefeet in size, this colossal structure found right on the north side of theChicago River was the single largest building in the entire world when it firstopened in 1930. Merchandise Mart is such a massive facility that it even hadits own zip code until a recent postal reorganization! Today it houses numerousshops and restaurants, while also serving as the office headquarters for manydifferent businesses.

Shoreline Sightseeing: Architecture River Tour

January 3, 2020 By gochicago

Shoreline Sightseeing has been leading guided tours on Lake Michigan and along the Chicago River for approximately 80 years. For the past 20 years, theyve been running their very popular Architecture River tour for local Chicago residents and visitors from all over the world alike. Throughout this well-regarded excursion youll have terrific views of a number of Chicagos most significant buildings and architectural treasures, all while enjoying a pleasant boat ride that takes you down all three branches of the Chicago River.

Money Saving Tip! This tour is included in the Go Chicago Card as well as the Chicago Explorer Pass. Both Chicago Tourist Passes can save you a lot of money if you are going to multiple Chicago attractions.

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Chicago Line Cruises River Architecture Tour

With Starbucks coffee and a bar on board, Chicago Line Cruises is all about a laid-back approach to sight-seeing on the water. Chicago Line Cruises can also customize a private architecture boat tour for your party of 20 or more passengers, if you are seeking a more personalized tour on the Chicago River. Chicago Line Cruises certified docents weave in the history of Chi-town as they provide context around some of the most important examples of Chicago architecture. In addition to architecture cruises, Chicago Line offers dog cruises , nighttime cruises, and firework cruises. Their classic Chicago River architecture tour is 90 minutes.

To book: $45,

Shoreline Architecture River Tours

Chicago River architectural tours, a rite of summer, restart Friday ...

Take Shorelines award-winning 75-minute Architecture River Tour to discover Chicagos renowned landmarks as presented by our expert and entertaining guides.

Youll learn how Chicago rose from the ashes of the Great Fire of 1871 to become the birthplace of the skyscraper and a major influence on the school of modern American architecture.

Shorelines Architecture River Tour features commentary on more than 40 of the citys most famous buildings as well as close-up views and excellent photo opportunities.

Shoreline also offers Spanish Language Architecture River Tours see website for times and locations.

Tours depart day and evening from both the southwest corner of Polk Bros Park at Navy Pier and the northeast corner of the Michigan Avenue Bridge at the Apple store.

Discover why Shorelines Architecture River Tour was the TripAdvisor 2020 Travelers’ Choice #1 of the Top Ten Experiences in Best of the Best Award Winner!

How to find Shoreline Architecture River Tours

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Chicago Architecture River Cruise

  • Learn more
  • Instant confirmation
  • For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.
  • Choose from multiple departure times to fit your busy schedule
  • Learn about the city’s architectural history through an expert’s live narration
  • Prebook this must-do Chicago activity, which frequently sells out

Wendella Boats Chicago River Architecture Tour

Wendella Boats offers a 45-minute or a 90-minute Chicago River architecture tour that delves into 130 years of architectural innovation. Youll explore all three branches of the Chicago River with an expert tour guide on a vessel equipped with libations a-plenty . Passengers are sure to grab some Instagram-worthy shots as they cruise past iconic landmarks like the Chicago Water Tower, Tribune Tower, and Marina City.

To book: From $23,

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Chicago’s First Lady Cruise

Chicagos First Lady cruise, the official Chicago Architecture Foundation river cruise, offers visitors a 90-minute showcase of more than 50 of Chicagos most famous buildings. The cruise has both open-air and air-conditioned seating. First Lady cruises depart from Riverside Gardens, located on the southeast corner of the Michigan Avenue Bridge. The tour company uses Chicago Architecture Foundation-certified guides. Concessions are available. Tours run from May 1 through November 21 in 2010.

Chicagos First Lady Cruise

675 N. Court Suite 300

Palatine, IL 60067

More Information On Shoreline Architecture River Cruise

[4K] Chicago | Illinois | Shoreline Architecture River Cruise

Along the way, youll learn all about the history of Chicago, from the Great Fire of 1871 to the thriving metropolis it is today. Marvel at the architectural works of Bertrand Goldberg, Jeanne Gang, and Mies van der Rohe, and make the most of the photo opportunities at Wolf Point.


  • Main Branch enjoy views of spectacular structures by Bertrand Goldberg and Jeanne Gang.
  • North Branch see how architecture on the river has changed over time and snap plenty of photos at Wolf Point.
  • South Branch learn the dramatic story of how Chicago rose from the ashes of the Great Fire of 1871, and see the citys iconic Willis Tower.

Need to Know

All cruises are weather permitting and availability is based on Coast Guard capacity. Tour lasts 75 minutes. Does not include Fireworks Cruises. On-Peak Days, we recommend departing from the Michigan Avenue location for shorter wait times and greater availability. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, capacity is limited.

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Shoreline Architecture Firework Tour

Get all of the information on a daytime architecture tour, with an added grand finale: seeing fireworks on the lake!

Whether you depart from Navy Pier or Michigan Avenue, youll tour the main and south branch of the Chicago River before traveling out onto the Great Lake for the best view of the weekly fireworks display.

Pro tip: Dont forget your camera! Even though it is nighttime, the lights of the city offer perfect photo opportunities. Youll have your postcard-worthy photo in no time!


Depart from one of two locations:

  • Navy Pier Entrance, Polk Bros Park. GPS: 600 E Grand Ave
  • Michigan Avenue Bridge . GPS: 401 Michigan Ave

Speed Boat Tour Discounts

Anyone looking for fun and excitement on the Chicago River will want to consider a Speed Boat cruise.

These trips are more like a roller coaster ride than they are a boat tour.

As you ride through Chi-town at top speeds, youll see some of the most important landmarks in the city.

Guides will usually point out significant sights as you enjoy a thrilling experience.

There are only 3 ways to save money on these Chicago boat tours as of right now:

  • Group Rates
  • Kids are Free
  • Dog Discount

While the last option is definitely the strangest discount of them all, group rates are probably the best way to save money on these speed boat tours.

NOTE: You’ll find the most popular speedboat companies below, there might be some we are missing which are sold at a discount through websites like Groupon and LivingSocial.

We recommend checking these discount sites if you can’t find a service that fits your needs and expectations.

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Seadog Lake And River Tour

Seadog, Navy Piers speed-boat tour company, operates a River and Lake Architecture Tour. The tour starts at the companys Navy Pier dock, heading into the city via the Chicago River. This 75-minute tour is the only one that takes guests along the lakefront, through the locks and on the river. In addition to learning about Chicago history and architecture, guests experience a speed-boat ride on the lake. Tours run daily April through October.


Architecture River Tour Details


One immediate perk of the Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River tour is that it offers you with the flexibility of two different boarding options. You can join the Architecture River tour from Shoreline Sightseeings docks at either Navy Pier or near Michigan Avenueits your choice of whatevers more convenient for you. From there, youll be hosted by your professionally trained guide, wholl provide you an informative and entertaining narration highlighting some 40 different Chicago landmarks. In all, the Architecture River tour lasts approximately 75 minutes. From their Michigan Avenue location, tours typically depart every 45 to 60 minutes between the hours of 10:00am and 5:00pmthough availability does vary depending on time of the year and day of the week. Tours depart less frequently from Navy Pier, but there are still routinely multiple outings dailyjust make sure to check their website in advance of your visit for more details. Tickets usually run in the neighborhood of $40 for adults and $20 for children between the ages of 3 and 12. Kids 2 and under can join the tour for free. Shoreline Sightseeing also operates a Spanish-language version of the Architecture River tour daily from their Michigan Avenue location.

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