A view of the city's buildings by boat offers a unique perspective.
Visitors to Chicago may take one of many architectural river cruises to experience the preservation of ageless architectural styles in classic and modern structures along the Chicago River.
For a more detailed look, the Chicago Architecture Foundation offers more than 50 walking or bus tours, conducted by knowledgeable guides. Altogether they have about 85 tours in their program.
The Chicago Architecture Foundation is located at 224 South Michigan Avenue in the Santa Fe Building (also known as the historic Railway Exchange Building) on the Northwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Jackson Boulevard, across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and Millennium Park.
The foundation’s bookstore and gift shop and the Chicago ArchiCenter, which is designed to raise public interest in Chicago’s magnificent architecture, heighten the architectural experience for visitors.
For those who prefer a self-guided tour, visitors can pick up a free street map at one of the official Visitor Centers or stop by the Chicago Architecture Foundation to purchase a map of Chicago buildings featured on its tours. Visitors can also purchase one of the many guidebooks to architecture and landmarks at local bookstores or newsstands.
A self-guided tour might begin by marveling at the work of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe at the Federal Center
and Plaza (Jackson Boulevard and Dearborn Street).
A few blocks away, the 1886 Rookery Building (LaSalle and Adams Streets) designed by Burnham and Root with a lobby remodeled by Frank Lloyd Wright is a Chicago landmark. An excellent example of Wright's Prairie School of architecture is the Robie House (5757 S. Woodlawn Avenue), near the University of Chicago.
The full list of tours can be found on CAF's website: Chicago Architecture Foundation
Seeing that number of offered tours it could be a good idea to become a CAF member if you plan on taking several tours. CAF members enjoy many benefits, including more than 65 free tours and annual 2 for 1 tickets for CAF’s most popular tour, the Architecture River Cruise. An individual membership is about: $55.00
Shop & Tour Center
April — mid of December
Daily 9am — 6:30pm (7pm Friday)
Closed New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day