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Chicago River
Chicago River

Chicago River

star-5
9,369 Reviews
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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Chicago Architecture River Cruise

Traveler Favorite

Chicago Architecture River Cruise
$44.69 per adult
A great way to view the downtown Chicago architecture
excellent docent! good mix of facts and general commentary with a good sense of humor. Shoreline open air boats make for unobstructed viewing.
Conrad_W, Jul 2021

Recent reviews from experiences in Chicago

star-5
Great experience
Historylover, Jul 2021
Chicago Lake and River Architecture Tour
I really enjoyed the Tour. It was a beautiful day! I loved learning about the lock to allow the boat to leave the Chicago River and enter Lake Michigan. I love history. So, it was wonderful learning about the architecture and many other things that I didn't know about the city that I live in. I didn't want to leave when it was over.
star-5
Best 90 minutes in Chicago
Michele_A, Jul 2021
Chicago Architecture River Cruise
We had an amazing time. Patrick was excellent, so knowledgeable, and his delivery was on point! The boat was clean and bar service excellent.
star-5
Pleasant and informative
Pat_E, Jul 2021
Chicago Architecture River Cruise
The commentary was easy to hear and interesting Boat was comfortable. Clean and shady under canopy. Easy to find
star-5
First time Chicago visit by Tina
PatriciaPhelps, Jul 2021
Chicago Sunset Cruise
The beautiful skyline at night, the history told as you approach the buildings, the cleanliness of the boat. The staff were kind, professional, and courteous! The ability to see and take such beautiful panoramic pictures leave me speechless.
star-5
2021 Chicago Sunset
Romelia_U, Jul 2021
Chicago Sunset Cruise
The cruise was great. The view of the city as the sun set was spectacular, while the view of Lake Michigan was incredible! They played great music making it romantic if you're there as a couple. Bathrooms small, but clean. There's also a bar (drinks not including in price). On the way back, the city lights are on, making the view amazing with the crescent moon in between the buildings. This last part of the cruise was great! Loved every minute of it!
star-5
A must see when visiting Chicago
Judy_F, Jul 2021
Chicago Lake and River Architecture Tour
The tour guide was excellent! Extremely knowledgeable, friendly and entertaining. Bar was very accommodating and bathrooms were very clean.
star-5
This is how to see the Chicag skyline!
Lia_C, Jun 2021
Chicago Lake and River Architecture Tour
This was a great tour. The guide was absolutely wonderful. She was so knowledgeable and personable. Everything was well organized and clean. I would have to say this was perfect in every way. I highly recommend.
star-5
Highly Recommended!
Melinda_H, Jun 2021
Chicago Urban Adventure River and Lake Cruise
Amazing tour of downtown Chicago! Our tour guide was so knowledgeable and fun. The boat was very clean and the staff very polite. It was great to get views from the river and the lake! Must do!
star-5
Architectural tour
Beverly_J, Jun 2021
45-Minute Chicago Architecture Boat Tour from Chicago Riverwalk
Georgia wAs friendly and knowledgeable. Enjoyed it so much. Crew was friendly. Clean. The 45 minute tour was a good amount of time for the cruise.
star-5
Great time
kayekotz123, Apr 2021
Chicago City Minibus Tour
Very informative. Was a great time. Family can have fun. Clean and comfortable bus. Bus driver was funny
star-5
Great way to see the city
Sonia_C, Apr 2021
Chicago City Minibus Tour
Rick was excellent as a tour guide! Very knowledgeable about Chicago’s history and architecture. The van was very comfortable easy hotel pickup and drop off. Excellent food recommendations for after the tour. Covid precautions in place. I highly recommend this tour with Rick.
star-5
Simply a wonderful experience
Sheetal_P, Jul 2021
Chicago Architecture River Cruise
The boats were clean, the tour was long enough, there was food and drinks on there. And the best part was the guide/speaker was so knowledgeable. Another gentleman did a thorough job of drying the seats for us.

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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