According to just about everyone, Chicago’s First Lady Cruises is the best tour in town.
When visiting Chicago, the must-do on everybody’s list is going on a river cruise and marveling at the remarkable architecture along the loop. According to just about everyone, the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady Cruises is the best tour in town.
The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) is “a nonprofit institution whose mission is to inspire people to discover why design matters.” With Chicago’s unparalleled, brilliant architecture, it makes sense that CAF is the world’s largest public architecture organization. It’s a thriving group of proud Chicagoans who teach the public about the design and architecture of their stunning city. CAF puts on tours, exhibitions, educational programs, events and celebrations all throughout Chicago. The goal is “to encourage civil engagement and illustrate to people that they are stewards of their city and feel empowered to play an active role in design.”
Through CAF there are 85 tours to choose from, including the river cruise, bike, Segway, walking, bus and el’ train tours. Visitors can tour just about every neighborhood in Chicago and discover the city’s infrastructure, local businesses, places of worship and more.
Before picking a tour, people could decide if there’s a certain neighborhood they always wanted to check out, or find out more about a favorite Chicago designer, like Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe or Louis Sullivan, or if they’d like to see some of the city’s beautiful cathedrals, or experience the el’ system. We have tours like Must-See Chicago that is made up of the most iconic buildings downtown, and others that delve deeper into certain architectural styles or decades.
The river cruise is by far one of the most popular tours offered by CAF and Chicago’s First Lady Cruises. It’s a 90 minute tour starting at the Michigan Avenue Bridge, offered every half hour each day. The most sought-out timeslot is at twilight, at 7:30 pm, when the city is lit by a sunset glow. It’s a magical time when the buildings look even more spectacular while cruising down the glistening Chicago River.
CAF is partnered with Chicago’s First Lady Cruises to make the river cruises possible. The cruise boats are spacious with outdoor seating on the top and indoor seating on the bottom. There’s a bar downstairs that serves alcohol and coffee which obviously make nice little additions to the tour. Chicago’s First Lady Cruises also rents luxury yachts for events and weddings, for those looking for a private party on the river.
The architecture tour is entertaining, relaxing and super informational. One will learn a lot not just about the buildings throughout the loop, but the history of the city itself. The docents cover in-depth what era, style and architect is behind each special building. Over 90 minutes, one will get to know Chicago on a deeper level as one of the most exciting and dynamic cities in the world.
The CAF docents who act as tour guides are engaging, knowledgeable and friendly. They’re good at keeping the tour fun and interesting for 90 minutes without boring visitors with too many facts and figures. CAF docents are volunteers who are architecture enthusiasts slash locals who love showing people around their city, as most Chicagoans do. The pride they feel for their exceptionally stunning hometown shines through, making the tour feel authentic and genuine.
With Chicago’s exquisite architecture, design and cityscape, the CAF River Cruise abroad Chicago’s First lady Cruises is a must-do that can’t be missed. Discover countless stories behind one of the world’s most splendid metropolitan cities through CAF’s diverse architecture tours.
For more information, visit Chicago Architecture Foundation on tours, exhibitions and events.
Photos: Nadia Cho
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