Add dates

Chicago River Activities

Our most recommended Chicago River Activities

Chicago: 45-Minute Family-Friendly Architecture River Cruise

1. Chicago: 45-Minute Family-Friendly Architecture River Cruise

Admire Chicago’s impressive architecture from a unique perspective aboard a cruise sailing down the Chicago River, which features an indoor and outdoor deck, along with live commentary tailored to entertain the whole family. Treat yourself to a full-service cash bar at your own expense. Experience the best of the Chicago River from Lakeshore Drive to the Willis Tower, navigating along the South branch of the river, before heading back past the Chicago Riverwalk towards Lake Shore Drive and Lake Michigan. Be entertained by the fun and experienced tour guides as they explain the history behind Chicago’s buildings along the river and the exceptional architects who created this ever-changing skyline. Enjoy the most relaxing way to sightsee in Chicago, exploring the city free of traffic, noise, and congestion. Make sure to visit the full-service cash bar featuring authentic Chicago products, including local beer and spirits. Explore the open-air decks that allow you to feel the cooling river breeze and see the city from many vantage points that provide perfect photo opportunities.

Chicago: Fireworks Cruise with Lake or River Viewing Options

2. Chicago: Fireworks Cruise with Lake or River Viewing Options

Take in the amazing fireworks display off Navy Pier on a boat cruise. Briefly explore the architecture on Chicago River’s main branch before either heading out through the Chicago Locks onto Lake Michigan or staying inside the Locks to watch the fireworks. All cruises start by sailing inland up the Chicago River to Wolf Point, with some light narration provided focusing on history and architecture. Admire Chicago’s impressive architecture at twilight from either the indoor climate-controlled cabin or the airy outdoor deck. The cruise then heads back past the Chicago Riverwalk towards Lake Shore Drive, the Chicago Lock, and Lake Michigan for the spectacular fireworks show by Navy Pier. While on the boat, make sure to visit the full-service cash bar featuring authentic Chicago products, including local beer and spirits. Choose from the following options: River Fireworks Cruise from either Michigan Ave or the Riverwalk This shorter 45 to 60-minute River Fireworks Cruise option watches the fireworks display from the mouth of the Chicago River before returning to the dock. This cruise is perfect for families with children, couples, or groups of friends who are enjoying a night out on the town. Lake Michigan Fireworks Cruise from Michigan Ave This 2 to 2.5-hour Lake Michigan Fireworks Cruise goes through the Chicago Lock System, an American engineering marvel, and out onto Lake Michigan. The vessel will cruise along the shoreline with contemporary music and will ultimately stop on the lake and float alongside the fireworks display.

Chicago River: 1.5-Hour Guided Architecture Cruise

3. Chicago River: 1.5-Hour Guided Architecture Cruise

Experience more of Chicago by boat than on any other architectural cruise. See architectural highlights and enjoy an open-air deck or climate-controlled interior as you travel the main River and its north and south branches. View all of Chicago's architectural highlights during this comprehensive sightseeing tour. Be entertained by the expert and friendly tour guides as they explain the 130 year-long history behind the skyline, while bartenders and staff keep you comfortable with refreshments.  Choose between the fresh air of the open-air decks or enjoy the comfort of the climate-controlled interiors during your cruise. The tour starts at the Michigan Avenue (DuSable) bridge and goes up the main branch of the Chicago River past Wolf Point. It then cruises along the north and south branches of the river, before heading back past the Chicago Riverwalk towards Lake Michigan. On the way, learn about ornate, historic early skyscrapers like the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower, the imposing art deco Merchandise Mart, mid-century skyscrapers like the Mies Van der Rohe AMA Building. Don't miss the circular Marina City Towers, the majestic Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower and the tallest building in Chicago) the soaring AON Center, and more modernist structures like Aqua, Trump Tower, Nuveen, and the new Vista Tower. During your cruise, have the opportunity to enjoy a full-service cash bar featuring authentic Chicago products, including local beer and spirits, and Garrett’s Popcorn. Don’t forget to take a selfie at the Grand Staircase at the front of the boat or pose for photos at the picturesque stern or bow of this classic vessel.

Chicago: Go City All-Inclusive Pass with 25+ Attractions

4. Chicago: Go City All-Inclusive Pass with 25+ Attractions

The Chicago All-Inclusive Pass by Go City provides free admission to the city’s top activities, attractions, and tours, offering the ultimate in convenience and savings. Choose durations of 1, 2, 3, or 5 days at a low, pre-paid price and save up to 45% compared to buying separate attraction tickets. Take a trip up to SkyDeck Chicago, visit the Field Museum, have fun at Navy Pier, and enjoy a cruise. All these and more are included with your Chicago All-Inclusive Pass. The Chicago All-Inclusive Pass comes with a digital guide including useful attraction information. Use it to help you decide what to do, where to go, and how to get there. Activities, attractions, and tours included with the Chicago All-Inclusive Pass: • Shedd Aquarium (reservations required) • SkyDeck Chicago (reservations required) • Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus Chicago: 1-Day Classic Tour • 360 CHICAGO • Adler Planetarium • Museum of Science and Industry • Field Museum • Shoreline Architecture River Cruise • Shoreline Classic Lake Tour • Chicago Children's Museum • LEGOLAND Discovery Center • Bike Chicago: 4 Hour Bike Rental • Chicago History Museum • Lincoln Park Zoo Rides • Museum of Contemporary Art • Robie House • Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Tour • Panoramic and Scenic North Side Tour • Historic Chicago South Shore Tour • Grand Tour • Chicago Theatre Tour • Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Home • 10pin Chicago 90-minute Bowling & Pizza (reservations required) • American Writers Museum Attractions and tours are subject to change. Check the digital guide included on your confirmation voucher for the full list of inclusions, opening times, and reservation instructions.

Chicago: Mob and Crime Bus Tour

5. Chicago: Mob and Crime Bus Tour

Experience Chicago’s underworld of criminals and gangsters on a luxury bus tour. Find out how some of the world’s most famous criminals, mobsters, and gangsters conned their way through the city. Ride comfortably in an enclosed, climate-controlled bus, as you see famous Chicago crime scenes that range from the 19th century through modern times. Unlike Chicago walking tours, this Mob and Crime Tour isn’t affected by the Windy City weather. Learn from a local expert tour guide giving interactive live commentary about Al Capone, the Untouchables, the Chicago Mob, John Dillinger, Terrible Tommy O'Connor, H. H. Holmes, the Chicago Black Sox, Leopold and Loeb, bank heists, Cap George Streeter, and more. Grab your camera for a drive-by shooting of the historic criminal courthouse, a Chicago architectural landmark where some of Chicago's most notorious cases were tried. You'll also view historic video footage, receive an informative pamphlet with photos, and can even take part in a crime quiz. Stake out crime scenes like the Biograph Theatre, Holy Name Cathedral, Clark Street Bridge, and other Chicago landmarks. See the site of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, one of Chicago's most notorious murder scenes. Get off the bus and walk the path that notorious Chicago gangsters John Dillinger and Hymie Weiss followed just before their deaths. Travel into the criminal past of Chicago's River North, Gold Coast, Lincoln Park, Old Town, Loop, and Magnificent Mile neighborhoods.

Chicago River Architecture Cruise: Skip-the-Ticket-Office

6. Chicago River Architecture Cruise: Skip-the-Ticket-Office

Skip the lines at the ticket office and climb aboard a state-of-the-art cruise for a 60- or 75-minute cruise of all 3 branches of the Chicago River, and marvel at the architecture that has made the city so legendary. Get an insight into the buildings and engineering of a city that gave birth to the skyscraper and is the spiritual home of modern American architecture. Your expert guide will lead you down the Chicago River to uncover hidden gems, as well the city’s most renowned landmarks, such as the John Hancock building, Trump Tower, Marina City, Willis Tower, and more. Relax with a glass of something cold from the cash bar, as you cruise the Windy City’s waterway, and learn its status as a modern metropolis and one of the world’s most beautiful cities. End your tour in the same place where you boarded the boat.

Chicago: 1.5-Hour Lake and River Architecture Cruise

7. Chicago: 1.5-Hour Lake and River Architecture Cruise

Experience an architecture cruise along the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, a family tradition since 1935. Admire Chicago’s historic and ever-changing skyline with a local expert guide as you cruise through the city. Choose between the open-air decks or the comfort of the climate-controlled interiors during the cruise. Start the cruise at Michigan Avenue (DuSable) bridge and go up the main branch of the Chicago River to Wolf Point before heading back past the Chicago Riverwalk towards Lake Michigan. Learn about historic skyscrapers like the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower, the deco Merchandise Mart, mid-century skyscrapers like the Mies Van der Rohe AMA Building, the circular Marina City Towers, the AON Center, and modernist structures like Aqua, Trump Tower, Nuveen, and the Vista Tower. After passing through the Chicago Lock and cruising past Navy Pier, admire the Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan, one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world. Here you can also see the twin super-skyscrapers, the famous Willis (formerly Sears) Tower, and the John Hancock Building. See the majesty of Grant Park with its famous Buckingham Fountain, and iconic Chicago venues such as Soldier’s Field, Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium. Enjoy several vantage points for memorable pictures throughout, and finally arrive back at Du Sable Bridge on Michigan Avenue.

  • Guided tours
  • Water activities
  • City cards
  • Hop-on hop-off tours
  • Other experiences
  • Private tours
  • Adventures
34 activities found
Sort by:
Page 1 of 3

Other Sightseeing Options in Chicago River

Want to discover all there is to do in Chicago River? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Chicago River

awesome, interesting & beautiful! make sure you know where you’re going & arrive 15 min early. our friends uber dropped them in the wrong spot so we barely made it & had to stand during the tour which honestly wasn’t bad, but the earlier you arrive you’ll get your choice of seats.

Guide was excellent. Very interesting tour. We missed our original tour and had to take the next tour which was longer and probably better because we weren’t areas that the shorter tour would not have take. Us.

Loved the tour, so beautiful, a very special point of view of the city. We were afraid it was going to be cold but it wasn’t and the bar with hot chocolate and tea that was opened on the boat helped :)

Loved the guide, Kevin, very knowledgeable and entertaining... Thanks to all the staff as well for what they did to make us enjoy our trip...

Easy access good narrative and good sense of humour