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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
$23.00 per adult
Traveler Favorite
Awesome Tour
My goddaughter and I really enjoyed this tour. The tour guide was phenomenal and the views were AMAZING!
Jamerra_H, Oct 2021

Recent reviews from experiences in Chicago

star-5
We enjoyed learning about...
Polly_R, Sep 2021
Chicago Lake and River Architecture Tour
We enjoyed learning about the city and it’s history. The guide was knowledgeable and friendly. The boat was clean.
star-5
Awesome tour
Tony_J, Sep 2021
Chicago Lake and River Architecture Tour
Nice tour. Beautiful day. A great way to spend my wedding anniversary. The boat was clean. The tour guide was awesome and very knowledgeable..Couldn’t say anything bad and the company
star-5
Best ever Chicago River architecture tour!
Claire_S, Sep 2021
Chicago Architecture Center River Cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady
Patricia was incredible...informative n immensely knowledgable..witty n entertaining. Best tour on the Chicago River!!
star-5
Loved it
Marilyn_G, Sep 2021
Big Bus Chicago Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
Convenient, clean, freindly. Actors giving the commentary were a little too cute for our taste. Pointing out landmarks, history and telling about a city doesn't have to be cutesy.
star-5
Wonderful experience - Terrific Guide
Edmund_J, Oct 2021
Chicago Lake and River Architecture Tour
I am not typically a fan of touristy things like this, but this architecture tour was one of the best things I have ever experienced. The tour guide was funny, professional and very knowledgeable. I learned so much about the architecture and history of the city. The trip up and down the Chicago river and into Lake Michigan was beautiful and breathtaking. I can't wait to come back. I seriously recommend this tour for anyone.
star-5
Well organized.
David_H, Aug 2021
Chicago Architectural River Cruise
Very knowledgable and enthusiastic narrator. Boat clean and well organized. Easy to book the tickets and find the dock.
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
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.

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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