Who wants to be bothered with trudging along the pavement or pricy alternative routes of travel? Sometimes, it’s just much more inexpensive and easier to wrangle the family onto a bus when you want to tour a location. Lean back and avoid the elements downstairs or let the view and wind zip by from the topside of the bus, depending on the season and your preference. You can trust that the tour guide isn’t going to let anything important go by on your trip through Chicago’s storied streets and neighborhoods.
When choosing your best bus tour operator, consider whether you’re going to want to eat or drink on the trip. Some tours offer tastings of pizza or beer, two of the Midwest’s biggest culinary exports and favorite repasts. If you oversample the alcohol, it can be nice to know you’re in safe hands with a professional bus driver at the wheel.
Bus tours can be themed in other ways beyond food and drink. If you have a favorite part of the city, north or south, you can book exclusively to see those areas. You may wish to explore the city’s unique architecture. Tours emphasizing the skyline and building history may include a visit to the Chicago Architecture Center. For those interested in exploring the dark side of the city’s history, there are tours that check out the haunts and crime scenes associated with the gangs that once controlled the city.
Many bus tours combine access to sites as part of the experience, including the Rookery, the Illinois Institute of Technology, the Skydeck, Hancock Tower, and the Centennial Wheel. While perhaps not as comprehensive as hop on hop off bus tours, these stops will let you stretch your legs and get plenty of snaps with you and your crew.
- Gray Line Tours: This international tour bus operator provides five different tours, including north and south side, the grand city tour, more narrowly focused tours.
- Chicago Pizza Tours: Weekends only, this tour offers four different styles of pizza depending on the day you choose.
- Chicago Beer Experience Tours: Let the bus driver be your designated driver as you move from beer tasting to beer tasting across Chicago.
- Big Bus: Choose from four different tours at various rates and lengths of tour, all offering a 360 degree view of the Windy City.
- Chicago Architecture Center: This 3.5 hour tour covers 30 miles and all the major downtown sites, buildings, and neighborhoods.
- Chicago Crime Tours: Hop on the big red and yellow bus to discover how the underworld gangs and criminals lived, profited, and paid for their crimes.