Founded in 2010 with the intention of meeting the needs of the curious, Chicago Detours offers fun, educational and unique experiences for visitors and locals alike. Detours guides love to share their passion about Chicago’s history and architecture with every guest on their tours. This tour company considers themselves to be different because of their keen ability to dig into less commonly-known stories while they make their tour time interactive, memorable and fun.
Types of Chicago Detours
If you’re looking for public architectural walking tours, food & drink tours, private bus tours, or even corporate team building events, Chicago Detours can easily accommodate your needs. Corporate, family & friends, and student groups are all welcome to book private tours that incorporate diverse neighborhoods, historic bars, food history, interior architecture, and even jazz & blues. Interact with urban spaces, audio-visual media, educational experiences and much more.
What You’ll See on a Chicago Detour
Taking in a tour of Chicago architecture, you’re likely to come across a host of interesting buildings that are certainly not part of “your grandma’s architectural walking tours”. Chicago Detours provides stories and places that even most of the locals don’t know about.
More than just looking at the outside of buildings from the sidewalk, indoor architectural tours allow you to actually enter into different pieces of architectural space in the city. Skip the boring speeches and, instead, get access to the lesser-known stories that make Chicago unique and fun.
Choose options that allow you to experience some of the few remaining buildings from Chicago’s famed 1893 World’s Fair; the gold-topped Carbide and Carbon Building; Jeanne Gang’s famous Aqua Tower; Gilded Age mansions in gentrified Wicker Park; or artisanal foods in Fulton Market.
Certain tours allow time for games, visual scavenger hunts, drinking time at bars (i.e. educational pub crawls), and other unique stops that make for tons of fun and a significant amount of learning along the way. Watch for announcements of special events during school breaks, festivals, and other occasions.
Chicago Detours Services
Chicago Detours offers standard service for public tours, with customizable options for private walking or bus tours. Public tours are all in English. Private tours of Chicago architecture, history, culture, and neighborhoods may be arranged for in English, French and Italian.
Chicago Detours Timing
Some tours are offered daily, but Friday and Saturday tours allow for the greatest selection of specific tours and times. Daytime and evening tours accommodate visitors who are on vacation or working in the area. Of course, more tours are offered in warmer weather, but you can certainly still enjoy indoor tours of Chicago’s architecture even in the winter.
Expect to spend between two and three hours on most of your tours, and arrive between 10 and 15 minutes prior to the start of the tour.
Chicago Detours Considerations
Answers to questions that you might not have thought to ask:
- Walking tours can be physically challenging so be sure to wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather (sunscreen, umbrella, jacket, etc.).
- Groups up to 8 may book a public tour through the company website.
- Private group tours with Chicago Detours can be booked for groups with 9 or more guests.
- All walking tours include presentation of historic photos and videos, interactive dynamics and even special gifts.
- If you plan to drink on a tour, be prepared to choose your drinks and pay in cash at the start of the tour.
- Public tours typically entail walking a distance of approximately ½ to 1 mile, so be sure to wear your comfy shoes.
- Stairs are involved in most of the public walking tours so be sure to phone if you have questions regarding accessibility for wheelchairs, strollers, or other accommodations.
- Kids are welcome on some of the tours, but adults are likely to have a better time! Discounts for children may be available on certain tours.
- No audio or video recording devices are allowed. Photography is welcomed.
- Gratuities are accepted (note that tour guides give away half of their tips to non-profit organizations specifically used to develop Chicago culture, history and design).
Book a Chicago Detour
Reservations are suggested as tours often sell out. Booking with Chicago Detours is easy online or by phone. Online bookings show weekly availability including tour times as well as revealing tours that are already sold out. Pay for your tour in advance with a credit card and receive an email with all of the information you need about where and when tours meet as well as what to expect.