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Chicago River
Chicago River

Chicago River

Open daily
The Loop, Chicago

The Basics

The most popular way to explore the Chicago River is on a cruise, in particular a Chicago architecture river cruise, which offers an overview of the city’s history and building architecture. You can combine your cruise with a Chicago city tour, food tour, South Side tour, speedboat ride along Lake Michigan, or access to the Willis Tower. Kayak tours are also popular, including a nighttime ghosts and gangsters tour.

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45-Minute Chicago River Architecture Tour from Magnificent Mile
Likely to Sell OutLikely to Sell Out
45-Minute Chicago River Architecture Tour from Magnificent Mile
star-4.5
$25.00 per adult
Traveler Favorite
River tour!
Great information! Very engaging tour guide! Really enjoyed the tour! I did the tour before, and it was not as enjoyable as this tour!
Ursula_N, Jun 2022

Recent reviews from experiences in Chicago

star-4
Tour guide (Sarah I...
Sean_O, Aug 2022
Chicago 3D Fireworks Cruise
Tour guide (Sarah I believe) was awesome. Views of the city from a boat on the Chicago River were incredible. Seats were too close together.
star-5
What a amazing ride on the architectural river cruise.
shiowtzy_l, Jun 2022
Chicago Architecture River Cruise
The skyscrapers are worth watching and the cruise guider is so professional and enthusiasm. That is awesome about many ships sailing on the Chicago river during the hard time of Covid-19 spreading.
star-5
Perfect balance of lake and river!
Breck_M, Jul 2022
Chicago Urban Adventure River and Lake Cruise
EXCELLENT tour and guide! We selected this cruise option bc the size was smaller (100 people instead of 250) and bc we wanted to see Lake Michigan. Our tour guide was fantastic and so were the sights. We were amazed to learn that the Chicago River had literally been redirected. This cruise was great balance of lake time and river time with great info about the buildings we were seeing.
star-5
Great tour guide clean...
Patti_A, Aug 2022
Chicago Lake and River Architecture Tour
Great tour guide clean boat. 2 of the people I paid for got covid and could not make it, could I get refunded for them?
star-5
I was visiting Chicago...
John_S, Aug 2022
Chicago Architecture River Cruise
I was visiting Chicago with friends and they recommended that we do this and I'm glad we did. The boat was clean, comfortable and that people who work for this should all get 5 stars! Our guide was knowledgeable funny and made it fun. I won't forget it and will do it again with more friends.
star-5
Great tour
Ben_S, Aug 2022
Chicago Architecture Center River Cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady
Kathy and the crew were great. Very informative, clean bathroom, nice bar for water and drinks. Look forward to another
star-4
Truly exciting, I came away with a love and admiration for the City if Chicago
Helhels, Jul 2022
Chicago Architecture River Cruise
The tour guide brought it to life with good detail. Very relaxing along the river. The boat was top class, clean and well manged.
star-5
Great guide! Very...
Jennifer_H, Jul 2022
Chicago Lake and River Architecture Tour
Great guide! Very knowledgeable and funny. The boat was clean and accessible. This is my second time!
star-5
Excellent experience
Allison_S, Jun 2022
Chicago Sunset Cruise
The tour guide was fantastic, views were spectacular! Boat was clean and well managed. Would highly recommend.
star-5
Sunset in Chicago
Loree_M, May 2022
Chicago Sunset Cruise
The staff was wonderful along with the views! The boat was very clean and the going through the locks was magnificent
star-5
Fantastic, Spectacular and Relaxing!
Cen_Z, Aug 2022
Chicago Architecture River Cruise
It is the highlight of the day! BECKY is a superstar guide who’s knowledgeable on arts and architecture, with great sense of humor and enthusiasm about the city! Love the social realm being developing along the Chicago River! Totally worthwhile 75mins on board ! Would recommend to anyone and It’s very interesting and I would like to visit back someday, since it’s a constantly changing living museum of art, architecture and public activities.
star-5
Great Tour
Alan_G, May 2022
Big Bus Chicago Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
Bus was clean, Driver/Tour Guide was Fantastic 😊. Great Experience and learned a lot. Would recommend to all my friends.
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Things to Know Before You Go

  • River cruises fill up fast in summer, so buy tickets or book a tour well in advance.

  • River cruises depart rain or shine. As weather can change quickly in Chicago, be prepared for rain or temperature fluctuations.

  • No experience is necessary to kayak on the Chicago River; tour guides provide a short lesson before each kayaking tour begins.

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How to Get There

Running through the center of downtown Chicago and dividing the Loop from River North, the Chicago River is hard to miss. Most river cruises depart from below the DuSable Bridge at the corner of Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue. If you’re coming via public transportation, take the El to State/Lake.

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Trip ideas


When to Get There

The Chicago River is best explored during late spring, summer, and early fall, as most river cruises don’t operate during winter. The Chicago River is famously dyed bright green for St. Patrick’s Day, an event that traditionally takes place on the Saturday before March 17. If you are visiting on a Wednesday or Saturday during summer, book a fireworks cruise to enjoy fireworks over Navy Pier.

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Chicago Architecture Highlights

Exploring the Chicago River is largely about appreciating Chicago architecture. On the main branch of the river, look for the Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower, the corncob towers of Marina City, and the Merchandise Mart, once the largest building in the world. On the south branch, the highlight is the Willis Tower, which was the tallest building in the world when it was completed as the Sears Tower in 1973.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What are the nearest attractions to Chicago River?
Q:
What else should I know about attractions in Chicago?
A:
As well as visiting the Chicago River, check out these trip ideas to make the most of your visit: