Shoreline Sightseeing Cruises

Family owned and operated for 75-plus years through three generations, Shoreline has hosted visitors from almost every country in the world. With the largest fleet of boats in Chicago, Shoreline boasts 11 major touring vessels as well as eight water taxis. With five boarding docks to choose from, Shoreline’s water taxi service makes it easy to get from here-to-there in style in Chicago.

Some of Skyline’s impressive vessels are equipped with two viewing decks and resemble large steamers. Others in the fleet are custom-built vessels with open decks, pushed by tugs in order to give better views and also function with more energy efficiency.

Types of Shoreline Sightseeing Cruises

Shoreline Sightseeing offers several different ways to see Chicago from the water, such as:

Architecture Tours

Get views of more than 40 iconic Chicago skyscrapers and landmarks that are famous throughout the world. Choose a tour that leaves from either Navy Pier (on Lake Michigan) or Michigan Avenue (on the Chicago River) and enjoy approximately 75 minutes of experience and entertainment. Learn about Chicago’s history, including its rebuilding after the Great Fire, and how it has since become a critical place for modern architecture.

Classic Lake Tours

Shorter tours last less than an hour and offer stunning views of Chicago’s skyline from Lake Michigan, departing from Navy Pier. Typically offer daily, these shorter tours are perfect for folks who want to relax and enjoy the view while listening to a recorded narration of some of the highlights of Chicago’s history.

Fireworks Tours

Check out evening fireworks tours on certain weekdays throughout the summer season (Memorial Day through Labor Day). Expect to spend about an hour after departing from the Navy Pier location and enjoy the view of the city until the fireworks begin, just after the sun goes down.

Shoreline’s Water Taxis

For a fast and fun form of transportation with a view, consider one of Shoreline’s water taxis either through Lake Michigan or down the Chicago River. Five docks include Navy Pier, Michigan Avenue, Willis Tower, Museum Campus and Union Station.

Special Event Tours

Each summer brings new and returning events that Shoreline loves to get involved with. Ask about wine tasting, Craft Beer Week, Oktoberfest and other special event tours.

What You’ll See on a Shoreline Sightseeing Cruise

Chicago’s world-famous landmarks that can be enjoyed from Shoreline’s Architecture Tours may include:

  • Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower)
  • Wrigley Building
  • Tribune Tower
  • Marina City

Classic Lake Tours bring relaxing views of the city’s entire skyline as well as closer landmarks such as Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, Buckingham Fountain and more.

Shoreline Sightseeing Services

Shoreline Sightseeing offers several options for daily tours open to the public, as well as water taxi service and private charters. Packages may include bar services, food, or DJ, depending on guests preferences.

Shoreline Sightseeing Timing

Architecture cruises usually have the longest season, often beginning as early as March and lasting as far as December. Several tours will often run each day. Shoreline’s sightseeing and water taxi routes run throughout the summer, typically from May to September. Taxi service runs throughout the day during the main season and guests can expect taxis to arrive every 20-30 minutes or so.

Guests should check the company website for specific dates and times of operation.

Shoreline Sightseeing Considerations

Important information you may need to know prior to booking your Shoreline Sightseeing boat tour:

  • Cruises tend to sell out quickly so reservations are recommended, but not required.
  • Water taxis operate similarly to public transportation—no reservations are available.
  • Guests interested in the architecture tour may choose an English or Spanish option.
  • Alcohol and other beverages are available on most boat tours.
  • Shoreline’s Navy Pier dock is wheelchair accessible.
  • Vessels can accommodate between 150 and 260 people.
  • Water taxis are not wheelchair accessible because of docks that require the use of stairs.
  • All vessels are equipped with restrooms (except for the smallest water taxis).
  • Leashed dogs are welcome on any tours
  • Special rates may be available four groups of 20 or more persons.
  • Shoreline’s vessel will typically sail rain or shine so guests should dress appropriately.
  • Most boats in the fleet are covered but a few are not—guests should dress for the weather.
  • If the captain does happen to cancel a cruise due to weather, full refunds will be issued.
  • Seating on the vessels is first come, first served. Seats cannot be reserved and there is no guarantee that groups can sit together.

Book a Shoreline Sightseeing Tour

Tickets for Shoreline Sightseeing should be purchased in advance online. Tours often sell out. Booking is easy online. 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.

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