The greatest defining feature to be witnessed soaring up and out of the Illinois prairieland is the breathtaking cluster of skyscrapers that compose the Chicago skyline. Whether you’ve been amazed by the novelty of them when driving in from the north, south, or west or if you’ve sailed or even flown in to view them, these mighty monuments to America’s heartland architectural achievement deserve a visitor’s close attention and study during a vacation trip. You’ll get to know all the best sights and landmarks thanks to expert tour guides from one of the many services offered by local and national operators.
Whether it’s the practical design of 875 N. Michigan Ave., the unusual geomatic shapes of Marina City, or the against the grain structural design of 150 North Riverside, you’ll marvel at the engineering feats that transformed Chicagoland. Other can’t be missed features include Willis Tower, the John Hancock Center, Vista Tower, the historic Tribune Tower, the wavy Aqua Tower, and dozens more wonderful buildings.
If you choose to book a river cruise for an almost Venice in the Midwest experience, you can also discover the history behind the numerous moveable bridges crisscrossing the Chicago River. Of the city’s 52 movable bridges, 43 still function. Bridges are lifted starting in mid-April to permit sailors to bring high-masted boats from docks on the river to Lake Michigan. While it can be a problem for locals during the changes, they are regularly scheduled and commuters can learn to plan ahead for delays.
If you don’t choose to check out the architecture by boat, there are plenty of walking tours who emphasize a close-up, hands-on experience. Knowledgeable guides may even take you inside a selection of essential buildings for a more detailed analysis of internal architectural considerations, especially the more aesthetic features.
- Chicago Line Cruises: You’ll see over 50 historic and recently constructed world-class skyscrapers in 90 minutes with this professional guided riverboat cruise service.
- Seadog Cruises: Setting sail from the Navy Pier, this guided 75-minute cruise can cover the river’s bridges and famed buildings.
- Chicago Greeter Tours: This walking tour connects you to the finest volunteer architectural experts who will share their pride in their city’s skyline.
- Shoreline Sightseeing: For 75 minutes, you’ll patrol 40 landmarks such as Wrigley Building and Marina City along the three branches of the Chicago River.
- Wendella Sightseeing: This tasty cruise service operator celebrates holiday and food themed tours along both the Chicago River and Lake Michigan shoreline.
- Chicago Detours: This service prides itself on insider knowledge unknown to even the native Chicagoan and two hour, short distance interior architecture walking tours.
- Inside Chicago Walking Tours: With a focus on the center of the city, this tour takes you on a two hour walk inside and outside several buildings.
- Chicago Architecture Center: The Center offers numerous tour styles, including public, private, group tours, and field trips for exploring exhibits and structures.