Water activity

Chicago River: 1.5-Hour Guided Architecture Cruise

Water activity

Chicago River: 1.5-Hour Guided Architecture Cruise

Activity provider: Wendella Tours & Cruises

From US$ 42 per person


Experience Chicago’s legendary architecture from the best seat in the house: the river. Enjoy a comprehensive tour with a live fun guide as you navigate through the heart of the city covering all 3 branches of the Chicago River.

About this activity

Free cancellation
Cancel up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund
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Covid-19 precautions
Special health and safety measures are in place. Check your activity voucher once you book for full details.
Duration 1.5 hours
Check availability to see starting times.
Skip the ticket line
Live tour guide


  • Pre-purchase your ticket to skip the ticket line and guarantee your place on this popular cruise
  • Experience the architectural river tour which started it all – back in 1935
  • Enjoy year-long cruising with a choice of outside deck-top or indoor climate-controlled seating
  • Learn from expert tour guides the importance of Chicago’s architecture and how it has developed over the years
  • Enjoy true Chicago hospitality with locally sourced food and drinks available at a full service cash bar
Full description

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.

  • 1.5-hour cruise
  • Boat trip along the main, north, south river
  • Access to open deck
  • Access to climate-conditioned interior deck
  • Local expert tour guide
  • Beverages and snacks (available for purchase onboard)
  • Gratuities

Select participants and date



Meeting point

The closest address to most docks is 400 N Michigan Avenue, Chicago (near the Wrigley Building). From there, you can check in with a dock employee who can direct you to your boarding area.

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Important information

What to bring

  • Sun hat

Not allowed

  • Pets (assistance dogs allowed)
  • Weapons or sharp objects
  • Alcohol and drugs

Know before you go

  • Children under 4 years of age are free
  • Seats on the decks are chosen on a first-come, first-serve basis
  • All bags are subject to search
  • Vessels include restrooms with diaper changing tables, cash bar, and climate control
  • Passengers can bring their own non-alcoholic beverages and food
Customer reviews

Overall rating

4.8 /5

based on 1827 reviews

Review summary

  • Guide
  • Transportation
  • Value for money
  • Service

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The tour itself was very entertaining and informative, a must-do for anyone visiting the city. You get a lot more information and context for the space you’re in than from most other sources, and the view of the city from the river is always breathtaking. I do have one concern which was that the microphone/speaker quality could use some work. I’ve been on this tour twice, the first time the speech was crystal clear and the second it wasn’t. That time it was very difficult to understand what the guide was saying. I was okay with it as I’d already taken it before but the person I was showing around the city missed out on a lot of the tour because of it. The guide himself was fantastic and I can’t fault him for that, I think there just needs to be a higher standard for the audio quality on a spoken tour, on the part of the organization. Definitely recommend the tour though! That’s my one and only criticism.

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March 28, 2023

This was very interesting, with the guide explaining the origin of many of the prominent buildings along the river. There were plenty of seats for all the passengers up on the top deck, but since it was very cold, it got crowded downstairs. It was well worth the cost and would recommend it to others.

March 21, 2023

One of the best things we did was take this boat tour while visiting Chicago for the first time. You will learn so much interesting facts about Chicago and it’s amazing to see the city in a different view. I highly recommend dressing for the weather. It can get windy and cold so bring a jacket and sunglasses if it’s sunny.

March 13, 2023

Product ID: 290485