How to Take an Architectural Boat Tour in Chicago?

If you are planning a trip to Chicago and are interested in architecture, taking an architectural boat tour is a must-do activity. Chicago is known for its stunning architectural landmarks, and a boat tour is the perfect way to experience them from a unique perspective. In this article, we will guide you on how to take an architectural boat tour in Chicago, ensuring you have a memorable and informative experience.

Choosing the Right Boat Tour

When it comes to architectural boat tours in Chicago, there are several options to choose from. Each tour company offers its own unique experience, so it’s essential to research and select the one that best suits your preferences. Here are a few factors to consider when choosing a boat tour:

Tour Duration and Departure Points

The duration of the tour is an important factor to consider. Some boat tours last for an hour, while others can be as long as two or three hours. Think about how much time you are willing to spend on the water and choose a tour that fits your schedule.

Additionally, consider the departure points of the boat tour. Some tours depart from Navy Pier, while others depart from other locations along the Chicago River. Choose a departure point that is convenient for you.

Tour Guides and Narrative

The quality of the tour guides and the narrative they provide during the boat tour can greatly enhance your experience. Look for companies that have knowledgeable guides who can provide detailed information about the architectural landmarks and the history of Chicago.

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Reading reviews and testimonials from previous participants can give you an idea of the quality of the tour guides and the narrative they provide.

Types of Boat Tours

In addition to the traditional architectural boat tours, there are other specialized boat tours available in Chicago. Some companies offer sunset cruises, fireworks cruises, and even themed cruises such as jazz or cocktail cruises. Consider your interests and preferences when choosing a boat tour.

Now that you have considered these factors, it’s time to book your architectural boat tour. Most tour companies have online booking options, allowing you to conveniently reserve your spot in advance. Make sure to check the availability and book early, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Preparing for the Boat Tour

Before embarking on your architectural boat tour, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Dress Appropriately

Chicago weather can be unpredictable, so dress in layers to prepare for any changes in temperature. It’s also a good idea to bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.

Arrive Early

To ensure a smooth departure, arrive at the designated departure point at least 30 minutes before the scheduled departure time. This will give you enough time to check-in, collect your tickets, and find a good seat on the boat.

Bring Snacks and Water

While some boat tours may have a snack bar or offer snacks for purchase, it’s always a good idea to bring your own snacks and water. This will ensure that you stay hydrated and have something to nibble on during the tour.

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During the Boat Tour

Once you are on the boat, sit back, relax, and enjoy the stunning views of Chicago’s architectural wonders. Listen carefully to the tour guide’s narrative as they provide insights into the history and significance of each landmark.

Don’t forget to take photos of your favorite architectural gems along the way. Some boat tours even offer photo opportunities with the skyline as the backdrop, so keep your camera ready!

Exploring After the Boat Tour

After your architectural boat tour, continue exploring Chicago’s architectural wonders on foot. Take a stroll along the Chicago Riverwalk or visit the Chicago Architecture Center to learn more about the city’s architectural history.

Additionally, you can visit iconic buildings such as the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower), the Tribune Tower, and the Wrigley Building. Each of these landmarks showcases Chicago’s architectural prowess.


Taking an architectural boat tour in Chicago is an excellent way to appreciate the city’s architectural beauty. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can plan and enjoy a memorable boat tour that showcases the stunning architecture and rich history of Chicago.

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