Chicago is the city of skyscrapers, and there is a strong architectural tradition to enjoy, but only if you know what you are looking at. To gain some help in that area, check out one of the coolest book and gift shops in town. The Architecture Foundation also offers tours of the city, including special out-of-town trips too. Stop by and pick up a calendar to plan your next sightseeing adventure. This is definitely not just for tourists.
PROS: great books, cool gifts, and fascinating tours
CONS: check their calendar for the event you want
I had the opportunity to go on a few tours while in Chicago that were in the higher price range and threatened to tote us around on a bus while peering from dingy windows in 115-degree weather. I passed, but didn't give up the search for a decent tour and while I was in one of the Chicago Architecture Foundation Store I found these little cards with their lists of tours including the sites that would be visited, cost and hours. It was perfectly concise and professional compared to the other tours I had to choose from. I would recommend the Downtown Deco or Architecture of Culture and Commerce tour if you really want to be impressed. I definitely was. There were others, but I didn't have the time to go and see them because of previously made plans, but if I did I would have absolutely gone on the others as well. The also have the Historic Skyscrapers (1885-1935), the Modern Skyscrapers (1950's-present), Millennium Park and Happy Chicago tour. They are all moderately priced as well at around $12 each.
PROS: thorough, professional, official
I took the highlights bus tour that went through downtown and through the neighborhoods of Chicago. It was 3.5 hours and $40. I can't wait to do it again. As a person who has been to Chicago a few times and didn't want to do anything too much like a tourist...I tried this out and was so happy I did. We were able to go into buildings downtown and then we were able to take a tour of the Robie house not to mention getting to see about 30 miles of Chicago. If you can this is a MUST SEE!
Pros: So historical and so much information. It was a great experience.
The architectural boat tour is one of the best ways to see the city, whether you're new in the area, visiting for a couple days or a longtime resident. The cruise on the river is pretty slow and easy, making it a relaxing way to spend an hour and a half. The docents are knowledgeable and entertaining. If you have a wait before your tour starts, wander down to Cyrano's on the riverwalk for a relaxing alfresco lunch and a glass of wine.
way for tourists and people who live here to explore our city. The tours run about 360 days a year, and range from one hour tours of particular downtown buildings to all day bus events.
Great place to take vistors to the city! Lots of interesting artifacts and information about Chicago past and present. I took the boat tour which was fabulous! Great for all ages - informative and fun too! Tour guides point out historical landmarks as well as information on more recently constructed buildings along the riverfront. Good way to get a tan too!
I have been on the Frank Lloyd Wright tour and I really enjoyed it. The tour guides were informative and the house is amazing. I highly recommend that locals and visitors alike make a trip out to Oak Park to see this.
Pros: great house, very informative