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Chicago River
Chicago River

Chicago River

Open daily
The Loop, Chicago

The Basics

The most popular way to explore the Chicago River is on a cruise, in particular a Chicago architecture river cruise, which offers an overview of the city’s history and building architecture. You can combine your cruise with a Chicago city tour, food tour, South Side tour, speedboat ride along Lake Michigan, or access to the Willis Tower. Kayak tours are also popular, including a nighttime ghosts and gangsters tour.

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45-Minute Chicago River Architecture Tour from Magnificent Mile
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
45-Minute Chicago River Architecture Tour from Magnificent Mile
star-4.5
USD25.00 per adult
Traveller Favourite
Architectural tour
It’s very informative about Chicago skyscrapers it was very relaxing great staff very nice boat ride
Robert_G, May 2022

Recent reviews from experiences in Chicago

star-5
What a amazing ride on the architectural river cruise.
shiowtzy_l, Jun. 2022
Chicago Architecture River Cruise
The skyscrapers are worth watching and the cruise guider is so professional and enthusiasm. That is awesome about many ships sailing on the Chicago river during the hard time of Covid-19 spreading.
star-5
Stunning Chicago
Robin_C, Jun. 2022
Big Bus Chicago Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
Great history of the beautiful architecture of the Chicago River. Informative guide on a comfortable boat.
star-4
Lovely cruise
Therman_B, Jun. 2022
Chicago Architecture River Cruise
Cruise was awesome and informative. Even though I brought a bottle of water with me, you could get drinks and chips and use bathroom while on board. Boat was clean and staff were friendly. The only thing I would change would be the uncomfortable seats; some cushion would be better. I had stand every so often to relieve the pressure on my back side.
star-5
Perfect cruise. Super narration!
Dorothy_O, Jun. 2022
Chicago Lake and River Architecture Tour
The narrator/educator, Joe, was fabulous. He blended history, architecture, pop culture and more. To a person, all the staff was wonderful. The ship was clean and I felt safe at all times. Loved being on the Lake and the River. Next time I’m in Chicago, I will go again!
star-5
Excellent experience
Allison_S, Jun. 2022
Chicago Sunset Cruise
The tour guide was fantastic, views were spectacular! Boat was clean and well managed. Would highly recommend.
star-5
Tourist time
Harvey_B, Jun. 2022
Chicago Lake and River Architecture Tour
Good tourist guide on the boat. Nice weather. Comfortable and clean. I don't like being forced to write a minimum number of characters just to meet some level.
star-5
Sunset in Chicago
Loree_M, May 2022
Chicago Sunset Cruise
The staff was wonderful along with the views! The boat was very clean and the going through the locks was magnificent
star-5
Great Tour
Alan_G, May 2022
Big Bus Chicago Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
Bus was clean, Driver/Tour Guide was Fantastic 😊. Great Experience and learned a lot. Would recommend to all my friends.
star-5
Cruise boat moved from...
shiowtzy_l, Jun. 2022
Chicago Sunset Cruise
Cruise boat moved from Chicago River to the Michigan Lake. It was a very memorable trip experience of us.
star-5
Wonderful tour on the Fair Lady cruise.
M_T, Apr. 2022
Chicago Architecture Center River Cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady
The Chicago Architecture River cruise on the Fair Lady boat was excellent. Mark who narrated the tour was engaging & has an incredible wealth of architectural & technical knowledge. The Fair Lady boat cruise is not only clean but it is staffed with the nicest people- very polite & respectful. Thank you to the staff for a memorable tour!
star-5
Great tour! We liked the...
Angela_C, Feb. 2022
45-Minute Chicago River Architecture Tour from Magnificent Mile
Great tour! We liked the views and our tour guide was very fun and knowledgeable. The architecture was beautiful and the boat was very clean.
star-4
Family Time
Kenya_F, Jun. 2022
Chicago 3D Fireworks Cruise
Spending time with my family. And the ride on the river was awesome. The 3D glasses made the experience better.
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Things to Know Before You Go

  • River cruises fill up fast in summer, so buy tickets or book a tour well in advance.

  • River cruises depart rain or shine. As weather can change quickly in Chicago, be prepared for rain or temperature fluctuations.

  • No experience is necessary to kayak on the Chicago River; tour guides provide a short lesson before each kayaking tour begins.

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How to Get There

Running through the center of downtown Chicago and dividing the Loop from River North, the Chicago River is hard to miss. Most river cruises depart from below the DuSable Bridge at the corner of Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue. If you’re coming via public transportation, take the El to State/Lake.

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Trip ideas


When to Get There

The Chicago River is best explored during late spring, summer, and early fall, as most river cruises don’t operate during winter. The Chicago River is famously dyed bright green for St. Patrick’s Day, an event that traditionally takes place on the Saturday before March 17. If you are visiting on a Wednesday or Saturday during summer, book a fireworks cruise to enjoy fireworks over Navy Pier.

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Chicago Architecture Highlights

Exploring the Chicago River is largely about appreciating Chicago architecture. On the main branch of the river, look for the Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower, the corncob towers of Marina City, and the Merchandise Mart, once the largest building in the world. On the south branch, the highlight is the Willis Tower, which was the tallest building in the world when it was completed as the Sears Tower in 1973.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What are the nearest attractions to Chicago River?
Q:
What else should I know about attractions in Chicago?
A:
As well as visiting the Chicago River, check out these trip ideas to make the most of your visit: