Providing exciting experiences to locals and visitors since 1935, the Wendella Sightseeing company is known for its signature architecture tours. As the original boat tour company in Chicago, Wendella provides a variety of daily tours throughout the summer season, and special occasions as well.
Wendella’s vessels have open topped viewing decks that are perfect for warm Chicago days. Most of the vessels also feature an indoor, climate-controlled lounge on the lower deck, offering speakers that allow guests to continue listening to live narration from the tour guide while inside.
Types of Wendella Sightseeing Tours
Some of the variety of tours guests may find available from Wendella Sightseeing may include:
River Architecture Tours
Navigating through the heart of downtown Chicago on all three branches of the Chicago River, a short tour of just over an hour tells the story of more than 130 years of innovative architecture and unique heritage.
Lake & River Tour
Lasting approximately 1 ½ hours, Wendella has been offering this classic tour since 1935! Telling the story of more than 200 years of history, this tour explores the community, politics and social history. Begin with an up-close view of iconic architecture from the river, and then move through the Chicago Lock onto the waters of Lake Michigan. This will offer amazing views of Chicago’s 26-mile long skyline.
Spend the evening on the calm waters, watching the sun set slowly behind the city’s skyline. A serene, romantic cruise lasts 1 ½ hours and is best enjoyed with a cocktail, glass of wine, or cold beer.
Chicago River Experience
A shorter, 45-minute experience may be available on weekends and holidays throughout the peak season of the summer. Grab hold of the energy of the city through the heart of downtown Chicago with a casual, family-friendly introduction to the history and heritage of the Windy City.
Celebrate two nights a week throughout the peak summer season with a two-hour, epic fireworks cruise. Guests will experience an unobstructed, 360-degree view of the fireworks right over the skyline from the peaceful waters of Lake Michigan.
Throughout the season, Wendella Sightseeing provides special occasion tours for various holidays and festivities. These may include St. Patrick’s Day (complete with the green river), 4th of July, Halloween, Beer & BBQ, Wine & Cheese and more.
What You’ll See on a Wendella Sightseeing Cruise
Points of interest on the Wendell Sightseeing cruise route may include:
- Navy Pier
- Tribune Tower
- Wrigley Building
- Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower)
- Aon Center
- Buckingham Fountain
- Chicago Harbor Lighthouse
- and much more!
Wendella Sightseeing Services
Public tours run daily throughout the warmer season, and the vessels can also be privately chartered for groups. Wendella’s boats are perfect as an open-air venue for family events, school trips, corporate events and much more. Private chartering may include a water taxi for group transportation, or cruise vessels that hold up to 275 guests.
Wendella Sightseeing Timing
River and lake architecture tours are offered each day through the season, from March through December. Cruises may last from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the specific booking and schedule.
Wendella Sightseeing Considerations
Information guests may need before booking a Wendella Sightseeing Tour:
- Tours depart from the Wendella Main Dock at 400 Michigan Avenue as well as the Wendella West Dock (located at the lower level of Kinzie and Rush).
- Wendella vessels feature restrooms and full-service bars (cash or credit card).
- Tickets may be purchased on the day of the tour at the ticket office, but booking online will ensure that spots are secured. Ticket sales close 5 minutes prior to tour departure.
- Tickets are not refundable but may be transferred to other dates and times.
- Guests should arrive 30 minutes prior to the tour time.
- Seats are not reserved and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Bags are subject to inspection.
- Children receive discounted admission and under 4 are free.
- Active military members, veterans, and students should inquire about discounts.
- Follow Wendella on Twitter and Facebook for promo codes opportunities.
- Wheelchair access is available from the Wendella’s Trump Dock and six of the vessels can fit a wheelchair and have ADA compliant restrooms. Call prior to booking for specific information.
- Hearing impaired guests may request a written narration script at the ticket office.
- Pets are not allowed but ADA compliant service dogs are welcome.
- All tours are weather permitting and schedule may change daily.
- School trips require 1 adult chaperone to accompany every 15-20 children for safety purposes.
Book a Wendella Sightseeing Cruise
Tickets for Wendella Sightseeing Cruise 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.