Art Institute of Chicago

Marvel at masterpieces from around the world including one of the largest Impressionist collections outside of France

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Art Institute of Chicago: Our most recommended tours and activities

Chicago: Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Bus Tour

1. Chicago: Hop-on Hop-off Open Top Bus Tour

From your vantage point on the double-decker sightseeing bus, you'll enjoy panoramic views of Chicago’s finest skyscrapers, including the 875 N Michigan, the Willis Tower, and the Wrigley Building. Take in the city's impressive landmarks as your tour guide provides entertaining commentary and insight into Chicago's history. Enjoy exploring 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 Museum. You’ll travel down the famous Magnificent Mile, considered one of the great avenues of the world, and continue across the Michigan Avenue Bridge over the Chicago River. The bridge connects the north and south sides of the city. This hop-on, hop-off bus tour of Chicago makes it easy for you to explore the city's sights at your own pace. There are 12 stops, where you can hop off to visit attractions and explore places of interest. The stops are conveniently located to make navigating your way around the city easy, and with a choice of 24- or 48-hour tickets, you can take your time discovering Chicago. Be sure to take advantage of admission to the Chicago Architecture Center, included if an appropriate option is selected, to dive deeper into the city that invented the skyscraper. So don't wait, just hop on an exciting journey through Chicago.

Chicago CityPASS®: Save 48% or More on 5 Top Attractions

2. Chicago CityPASS®: Save 48% or More on 5 Top Attractions

Take in incredible views, fascinating science, world-class art, and more with Chicago CityPASS® tickets that include premium admission to Chicago’s top attractions and save travelers 48% or more on the price of the same tickets purchased separately. The CityPASS system is simple. Simply present your mobile (or printed) ticket to be scanned at the included attractions for entry. What exactly can you experience with the CityPASS ticket? One-stop is the Shedd Aquarium, where you can see otters, lizards, whales, and dolphins – and much, much more. Shedd Aquarium is home to more than 32,000 animals, housed under one octagonal dome. You can also take in breathtaking views at Skydeck, which stands 1,353 feet above the city. The Field Museum is on the list too, home of “Sue” the world’s largest T. Rex. This pass includes prepaid admission to 5 must-see attractions: 1. Shedd Aquarium From angelfish to zebra sharks, meet 32,000 animals from aquatic habitats around the world at Chicago’s “must-sea” destination! See penguins fly through chilly waters, dolphins leap high in the air, monkeys scamper through rainforest trees, and stingrays swim below your feet.  You’ll have all-access admission including permanent exhibits, animal presentations, special exhibit, and Stingray Touch (seasonal), plus a 4-D Experience. 2. Field Museum See the world’s wonders! Visit an ancient Egyptian tomb with 23 mummies, explore over 10,000 years of Chinese history and culture, and “Sue” the world’s largest T. Rex dinosaur. You’ll get an All-Access Pass (admission to all permanent and regularly-priced ticketed exhibitions, and your choice of one digital 3D film). Film selection subject to availability. Additional charges may apply for specially ticketed exhibitions outside of the All-Access Pass. 3. Skydeck Chicago Atop the Willis Tower, Skydeck, invites intrepid visitors to step onto The Ledge, four glass boxes jutting out from the observatory. Situated at 1,353 feet (412 meters), the boxes provide a jaw-dropping view of 103 stories above the city. Includes expedited Entry to Willis Tower’s 103rd floor. Your ticket includes expedited entrance to the Skydeck as well as to The Ledge. 4. Your choice of 2 from the following attractions: 4.1 Art Institute of Chicago Travel the globe through galleries featuring the art of ancient Greece, Japan, Africa, and the Americas. The museum also has one of the largest Impressionist collections outside France and features classic artists like Van Gough and Georges Seurat.  You’ll get Fast Pass Admission to the permanent collection and non-ticketed special exhibitions; including an audio tour. 4.2 Museum of Science and Industry Learn about the science of storms, tour a real World War II German submarine, and run on a human-sized hamster wheel. Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry is the largest in the Western hemisphere. Includes museum entry, plus one timed-entry experience. 4.3 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck Experience magnificent views of Chicago’s skyline, beaches, and historic waterfront from 1000 feet up. Includes express entry admission. 4.4 Adler Planetarium, America's first planetarium Experience hands-on, minds-on activities and discover mind-blowing facts about the Universe. The planetarium has two domed theaters, 60,000 square feet of exhibitions, and the Doane Observatory’s research quality telescope.

Beautiful Chicago Lakefront & Museum Campus Segway Tour

3. Beautiful Chicago Lakefront & Museum Campus Segway Tour

Segways are amazingly fun and there is no better way to tour a world-class city like Chicago than on your own personal set of wheels--a Segway! Our eight-mile Lakefront Chicago Segway tour lets you learn about and view and many Chicago's attractions in a highly unique way. As you glide effortlessly and enjoy the lakefront, you can learn the history of our city from your friendly and professional tour guide. Immerse yourself in the area's countless attractions, gorgeous parks and gardens, and stunning photo opportunities. See sights like Grant Park, the BP Bridge, the Bean, and the Buckingham Fountain, as well as generous views of Lake Michigan and the majestic skyline. Segways are safe to use, easy to learn, and fun to ride. We offer a thorough training session from our certified guides before we begin the tour.

Chicago: Go City All-Inclusive Pass with 25+ Attractions

4. Chicago: Go City All-Inclusive Pass with 25+ Attractions

The Chicago All-Inclusive Pass by Go City provides free admission to the city’s top activities, attractions, and tours, offering the ultimate in convenience and savings. Choose durations of 1, 2, 3, or 5 days at a low, pre-paid price and save up to 45% compared to buying separate attraction tickets. Take a trip up to SkyDeck Chicago, visit the Field Museum, have fun at Navy Pier, and enjoy a cruise. All these and more are included with your Chicago All-Inclusive Pass. The Chicago All-Inclusive Pass comes with a digital guide including useful attraction information. Use it to help you decide what to do, where to go, and how to get there. Activities, attractions, and tours included with the Chicago All-Inclusive Pass: • Shedd Aquarium (reservations required) • SkyDeck Chicago (reservations required) • Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Chicago: 1-Day Classic Tour • 360 CHICAGO • Adler Planetarium • Museum of Science and Industry • Field Museum • Shoreline Architecture River Cruise • Shoreline Classic Lake Tour • Chicago Children's Museum • LEGOLAND Discovery Center • Bike Chicago: 4 Hour Bike Rental • Chicago History Museum • Lincoln Park Zoo Rides • Museum of Contemporary Art • Robie House • Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Tour • Panoramic and Scenic North Side Tour • Historic Chicago South Shore Tour • Grand Tour • Chicago Theatre Tour • Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Home • 10pin Chicago 90-minute Bowling & Pizza (reservations required) • American Writers Museum Attractions and tours are subject to change. Check the digital guide included on your confirmation voucher for the full list of inclusions, opening times, and reservation instructions.

Chicago: Treasures of the Golden Age Walking Tour

5. Chicago: Treasures of the Golden Age Walking Tour

This Historic Treasures of Chicago tour covers the most significant historic architectural landmarks in Chicago’s Loop. Your expert guide, trained by the Chicago Architecture Center, will focus on great cultural buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which harkened back to earlier time periods and were designed in revival styles such as Beaux Arts, neo-Georgian and neo-Gothic. Marvel at exteriors and interiors of dazzling beauty and startling originality, and get a glimpse inside some of the city's most beloved buildings.    The highlights of this walking tour will include the Chicago Cultural Center, home to the world's largest Tiffany dome; the iconic Marshall Field's department store, now Macy's on State; and the Palmer House, a beautifully restored hotel from the 1920s. 

Chicago: Art Institute Skip-the-Line Tour with Guide

6. Chicago: Art Institute Skip-the-Line Tour with Guide

Experience a guided tour around some of the world’s greatest and most iconic art pieces at the Art Institute of Chicago. Avoid the crowds and lines and meet your expert guide at the Institute 30 minutes before opening time. Explore the expansive collection, learning more about both contemporary and classic pieces. Although the museum usually hosts 1.79 million people per year, you will be able to stroll among the pieces at leisure, getting up close and personal with works by famous and infamous artists like Edward Hopper, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol. The Art Institute of Chicago is home to the greatest collection of Impressionist artwork in the world. Your guide will provide expert information on the collection and the museum’s history and hidden gems.

Eastside Chicago: Exploration Game

7. Eastside Chicago: Exploration Game

Start the adventure at The Art Institute of Chicago. It will take you between 1.5 to 2 hours to complete and you can also explore at your own pace. Pause the game and resume anytime from the location where you paused it. You will finish at the Fountain of the Great Lakes. As you solve challenges, the story unfolds and exact directions on your phone will guide you to the next location. So, are you up for an exciting city game? After your booking, you will receive an email on how to download the game to your phone. You can play on your own, in a large group, or in several smaller groups that compete against each other and meet at the final stop of the game. For larger groups, one person can purchase access for the entire group by selecting the number of people in the group. All group members will be able to download and play the city game on their phones. Alternatively, each person can make their own purchase.

Chicago: Millennium Park Self-Guided Walking Tour

8. Chicago: Millennium Park Self-Guided Walking Tour

On this self-guided walking tour where your phone is your personal guide, explore Millennium Park’s best sights and dive into some of Chicago’s little-known history along the way. This tour has been developed by local guides, creative writers, and professional voice artists. Begin your tour at the park’s north end, by Harris Theater for Music and Dance. From there, simply follow the audio instructions and the route via the app that will be your guide, narrator, and map in one. Head south toward the Pritzker Pavilion while learning some background on how the park came into existence. As an added perk, most stops along the tour have animated videos allowing you to visualize what you cannot see, such as snapshots from different centuries or interior rooms. Once at the impressive pavilion, learn about the vast array of performances held here and the high-tech design which makes it all possible, as well as the man behind it: Jay Pritzker. Get the full story on this precocious kid who went from building model cities out of his grandfather’s scrap wood to designing some of the most famous structures in the country. As you continue, you’ll come to the park’s so-called Secret Garden. Take a stroll along a peaceful boardwalk surrounded by plant life and listen to the little-known symbolism behind the garden’s design. Pause for a fantastic look at Chicago’s skyline before heading past the Art Institute of Chicago and ending up at the astonishing Crown Fountain. Get familiar with the intricately detailed face towers of the fountain, then head north toward Chicago’s most famous sculpture. At last, arrive at Cloud Gate, known by the locals as The Bean. Learn about the artist behind it as well as the technique he used to create such a huge, smooth surface. At the end of your tour, don’t forget to snap some surreal pictures of your reflection.

Chicago: Must See Chicago 90 minute Walking Tour

9. Chicago: Must See Chicago 90 minute Walking Tour

Starting at the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC), this tour gives you an overview of many of the must see buildings and landmarks in the City of Chicago. Led by an expert guide who has been rigorously trained by the CAC to be equal parts storyteller and educator, you will get a fantastic introduction to the city’s wide variety of architectural styles, construction methods, and materials. There is so much to see downtown, and this tour makes it easy and fun to learn about some of the buildings that make Chicago’s architecture world-class. There are lots of photo opportunities along the way, so be sure to bring your camera! The tour covers three of the main focal points of Downtown Chicago – the Chicago Loop, the heart of historic Chicago; the Chicago River, the lifeblood of the city; and Millennium Park, where the iconic “The Bean” sculpture is located. Landmark buildings covered on this tour include soaring modernist skyscrapers (Willis Tower, John Hancock Center, and AON Building), buildings paying homage to classical styles (Wrigley Building, Tribune Building, the Chicago Theatre, and the Art Institute of Chicago), Art Deco edifices (Carbide & Carbon Building and the Chicago Board of Trade Building), and recently completed skyscrapers (Aqua & Trump Tower). Finally, admission to the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) is also included with your walking tour ticket. CAC exhibits focus on Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods, housing types, leading architects and future projects, and include the largest scale model of the city, with more than 4,250 miniature buildings and a cinematic backdrop animating key moments in its history. The stories of the city begin at the CAC.

Other Sightseeing Options in Art Institute of Chicago

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What people are saying about Art Institute of Chicago

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 910 reviews

The best way to see downtown! The fact that you can get on or off at any of the 12 stops was so great. And you’re ticket last for 12 hrs I didn’t even realize when booking it but really made our next day as well. they have headphones to listen to an automated tour but we enjoyed the driver’s info more. We will definitely book again thank you!

Wonderful overview of some interesting buildings. Well paced and the guide Ross, told lots of interesting stories. You don't have to love architecture to enjoy this tour.

Jeremy was fun and patient in teaching us on how to drive the Segway. I had so much fun. Love his humor. The direction to the meeting point was very clear.

Very informative. We try to do this the first day in each new city. Take one full trip around then the second trip we hop on and off.

Very easy process, there was no line on a Friday afternoon. The app is easy to use.