Things To Know About The Chicago River Architecture Cruise:
- The architecture in Chicago is top-notch, and the best way to take it all in is through a cruise along the Chicago River. There are multiple companies, or who should be accurately labeled as imitators, that offer Architecture Cruises but the best and most respected company is the Chicago Architecture Foundation.
- All of the cruises are led by volunteers, which means the guides do not get paid to spend their time learning information about Chicago’s architecture and sharing it with visitors, but they simply enjoy it.
- Finding the location to board the boat on the Chicago Riverwalk, and finding parking, can be confusing so I would add extra travel time. They provide an address for you to find the Chicago Architecture booth, but you have to walk down a set of steps to get to the Riverwalk and even if you already purchased your tickets ahead of time, check in at the ticket booth to figure out which dock is your boarding dock, as there are multiple docks along the river. As for parking, I would suggest looking up parking garages ahead of time near the boarding dock, to save time and frustration of having to drive around downtown Chicago and look for parking.
- There is plenty of seating on the boat, and for the most part you will not find a bad seat, but if you have a specific desire to sit on a certain side of the boat or closer to the edge, then you might want to arrive early to line up. I was surprised to find that people started lining up thirty minutes or more in front of the boat, and I was afraid it was too crowded so I would have to sit on the inside of the boat, but there is tons of seating to accommodate the large crowds.
- The cruise takes off rain or shine, which means once you buy your ticket you will not be able to get a refund or change the date. There are seats inside for bad weather, but it is harder to enjoy the architecture from inside the boat so I would aim for the warmer months and check the weather before booking the tickets.
- There is a bar on the ship that sells drinks and snacks, so you can eat on board the ship during your tour.
- Overall the tour is about an hour and a half and it not only informs you about the history of architecture, the different styles of architecture design, and how Chicago’s skyline has changed over time, but it also gives you an awesome tour of Chicago as a whole from the river. Many iconic buildings, attractions, and neighborhoods in downtown Chicago can be viewed from the river and the city looks so beautiful from this perspective.
- The only negative that I took away from the tour, is that it might be too slow and boring for children. It is a slow moving boat ride, which is good for people who may be sensitive to motion sickness, and the guide spoke the entire tour, which might not entertain children and those who get bored easily. However, the views are great, the architecture information is interesting, and it can be incredibly relaxing with the perfect weather.
- The Chicago Architecture Foundation also has a variety of other tours, including bus and walking architecture tours, to choose from.