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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Chicago Boat Tours Navy Pier

Cruise Along The Coastline

SeaDog Speedboat Ride Chicago Navy Pier

Take in the stunning sights of Chicagos skyline from Lake Michiganits a view of the city like youve never seen it before! Our Skyline Lake Tours depart daily from Navy Pier, spring through autumn.

This pre-recorded, 30-minute tour provides striking views from Lake Michigan and is a perfect trip for Chicago locals and visitors alike.

All aboard

Amazing Navy Pier Chicago Attractions And Things To Do

Visiting the People’s Pier is more than just a stroll. Check out all these Navy Pier Chicago attractions, including museums, rides, and more.

Navy Pier is known as the Peoples Pier. Originally designed to be both a commercial shipping pier and a recreational space, Navy Piers purpose has morphed several times since it opened in 1916.

Today, the former municipal pier is one of the top attractions in Chicago, drawing millions of locals and tourists each year.

Besides the signature Centennial Wheel, the Chicago Childrens Museum, boat cruises, and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, there are lots of other Navy Pier Chicago attractions to keep you entertained.

Navy Pier is free and open year-round, although some of the outdoor attractions are seasonal.

Whether youre looking for a family-friendly activity or the perfect Chicago date night, Navy Pier has you covered.

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Hear From Our Previous Guests

Alexandra H.

We used to live in Chicago and went back to show the city to our teenage children. The architectural boat tour was a great start to introduce them to the architectural landscape and history of our beloved city. The captain of the boat was a lot of fun and our tour guide was very knowledgeable. I studied the architecture of Chicago in college and she knew her facts.

Collin K.

We had a great informational time on the tour. So many buildings, so little time! Even at 90 minutes the tour seemed to fly by. Our guide, Sean, did a great job keeping the same pace as the boat describing each building in great detail, builders, architects, year, styles, and revisions.

Dave T.

Absolutely terrific river tour of Chicagos architecture. When the other architectural tours were full, we defaulted to this one. HOME RUN! Billy was a wonderful guide. Obviously comfortable in front of a crowd, and his spontaneity kept us entertained throughout.

Donamarie S.

I have wanted to book this boat tour for years! I had family in town from England as well as out of state so I figured this would be perfect for everyone to see as much as possible with such a big group. It was perfect! We had so much fun!

Kayla S.

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Check out some of our recent blog posts!

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Youll Hear Lots Of Names Of Famous People And Businesses

Donald Trump, Groupon, Apple, William Wrigley Jr., Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Oprah Winfrey, IBM, and Betrand Goldberg are just a few of the recognizable names youll hear during the tour.

For more ideas on things to do in downtown Chicago, check out my SheBuysTravel stories on whats new at Navy Pier, and my favorite kid-friendly restaurants.

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Why Tour Chicagos Architecture With Us

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We are born-and-raised Chicagoans ourselves, passionate about the community that we know and love. That passion and desire spills into all of our tours, drawing on personal experiences for curating a tour that just cant be duplicated by a book or a movie. We want you to experience everything firsthand. Why tour with us?

  • Expertise: All of our tour guides are either architects, architecture students, or architecture historians, making for an in-depth and personally rooted kind of touring experience that covers all of the discreet details.
  • Variety: We offer a variety of uniquely different tours that cover everyones individual taste. We offer the Chicago River Boat Architecture Tour that takes you down the famous Chicago River there are several different options such as Architecture, History, Jazz/ Cocktail Cruises and Firework Viewing Tours
  • Flexibility: We want you to enjoy your Chicago River Boat touring experience, which is why were happy to talk with you and learn more about how our tours can accommodate you, your party, or your corporate outing. Our tours run daily, with availability always posted on our website here.

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Exciting Events And Free Programs

Navy Pier is proud to offer a diverse variety of exciting events and public programs year-round. Our extensive event calendar features something for everyone, from free fireworks displays throughout the year to live music, theater, art exhibits, dance performances, cultural celebrations, lake cruises and kids activities.

What Type Of Local Tours Are Available In Downtown Chicago

The Loop is the best place to start your tour of Chicago. Here you can explore the city in some pretty quirky ways, including by walking, bus or Segway.

Some of our favorite downtown tours include:

  • Sunset Segway Tour. Embark on a guided Segway tour through Grant Park and Chicago Riverwalk to catch the sun setting over the river.
  • Chicago Crime Tour. Fancy yourself a detective? Explore the citys famous crime scenes on this sightseeing bus.
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure. Follow the clues scattered around downtown as a team, with fun trivia, snapshot opportunities and compass challenges.

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Book Chicago River Boat Architecture Tours And See The Top Attractions Architecture And Landmarks In The Windy City

Highlights include: Scenic & Historic Architecture Beautiful Parks Skyscrapers Chicagos Lakefront Museum Campus: Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium & Adler Planetarium Sports Stadiums: Guaranteed Rate Field, Soldier Field & Wrigley Field Neighborhoods: Chinatown, Wrigleyville, Lincoln Park, Gold Coast, Hyde Park, Woodlawn & River North Plus many more historical sites! A 90-minute Architecture River Cruise aboard Chicago Line Cruises.

Chicago Tours

See the Chicagos top attractions and landmarks.

Due to COVID-19, this tour is not operating at the moment.

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Summer Fireworks At Navy Pier

World’s Best Skyline!! | Chicago Boat Tour

One of the most popular reasons to visit Navy Pier in the summer is the weekly fireworks. Taking place Wednesday and Saturday evenings from Memorial Day through Labor Day, these free fireworks displays light up the night.

TLTip: If you see a free concert at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, youll be able to see the fireworks.

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Explore The Chicago River With Urban Kayaks

If youre ready to ditch the captain and explore the water on your own, then its time to grab a paddle at Urban Kayaks. Youll go through a brief training session before you hit the water, but youre free to paddle the river or lake at your own pace. Or join in a guided tour to catch the sunset, fireworks, or historic highlights. Rentals are available at the Chicago Riverwalk or Monroe Harbor.

Best Boat Combo: Architecture Cruise And Speedboat Tour

If you want to combine action and adventure with historical education, consider booking the Architecture Cruise and Speedboat Tour. The 75-minute river and lake cruise begins with a laid-back journey up the river to view landmarks, including the Willis Tower and the Tribune Tower, as an informative guide shares fascinating stories about the history of these icons. After that, board a speedboat for a thrilling ride zipping along the shoreline of Lake Michigan past Grant Park , the Chicago Harbor and the Museum Campus. The tour departs from the Navy Pier, which is an attraction in itself and home to Chicagos famous Centennial Wheelso allow some time to explore the shops and sights.

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Live It Up On An Island Party Boat

Looking for a party? These tiki-themed boats are always a good time, offering drink packages, stellar views, and fun vibes. You can hop on an Island Party Boat at Monroe Harbor or the Chicago Riverwalk, which is also where youll find their beach-inspired bar Island Party Hut. Choose from a river cruise, lake cruise, tacky tour guide cruise, or even a dueling pianos cruise.

Visit Chicago Childrens Museum

Chicago: Navy Pier High Speed Boat Ride From Virgin Experience Gifts

Geared for kids 10 and under, the Chicago Childrens Museum has three floors of exhibits and activities that might just be your childs new favorite place in Chicago!

Dinosaur expeditions, tinkering labs, and a climbing jungle gym are just a few of the highlights found at this museum.

Tip: Target Free Family Nights means free admission every Thursday from 5-8 pm!

See their website for hours, directions, prices, and more.

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How Youll See It: Finding The Best Boats To See The Stupendous Structures

When it comes to seeing The Second Citys structures, there are almost as many companies offering architectural river cruises as there are buildings scoring the Chicago skyline. Is that an exaggeration? Maybe, but it is not that far off. The boom in cruises has not only improved tourism, it has also caused a raft of somewhat sketchy operators to appear.

How can you make sure you get to enjoy the best Chicago architecture boat tour? Well, one way is to limit yourself to the operators connected with ChooseChicago.com, the citys official tourism arm. These include

Wendella Tours & Cruises

Wendella Tours & Cruises 337-1446), the oldest company that cruises the Chicago River. Having existed since 1935, it bills itself as Chicagos Original Architecture Tour. Most of the vessels contain a climate-controlled lounge, so you wont have to worry about sweating your way through a 75-minute cruise during the sweltering summer months.

Bartenders also serve up drinks and snacks, and youll even find bathrooms on board. The Chicago River Experience cruise offers an abbreviated version of the architectural tour that families with young children might find more enjoyable.

Additional cruises include a lake and river tour , a sunset cruise , and a fireworks cruise .

Shoreline Sightseeing

Chicago River Boat Architecture Tours

Welcome to Chicago River Boat Architecture Tours! Were proud to present you with an in-depth, expert architectural-based river boat tour that delves into one of the most remarkable American cities today. Known for unique, daring, and historical architectural pursuits, its hard to cover all of the design and building treasures that make up the Windy City today. If youre ready to learning more about the designs, people, and innovations behind these creations, throw on your captains hat and get ready to cruise along the Chicago River and see what architects from around the world travel to see in Chicago.

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We Turn Tours Into Lasting Memories

Took a 10:30am architectural tour on a Sunday. Becky was our docent and OUTSTANDING!! Knowledgeable and entertaining. Also used their water taxi to get from Shedd Aquarium to Michigan with a stop at Navy Pier. Perfect way to rest after walking miles.

The architecture tour did not disappoint. Ive been to Chicago a few times, but this tour offered a new perspective. A great way to kick off a trip to Chicago and Antonio was amazing!

Jasmine J

Great tour full of great information on architecture and the history of Chicago. Clean boat and restrooms. Entertaining guide and nice bartender! Highly recommend!

Kristen T

Jim and the whole crew were absolutely amazing! The tour was informational and entertaining. Chicago is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and tour up and down the river proves that. We love Shoreline and hope to take many more tours with them.

Teresa M

My girlfriend and I were in town from Houston, Texas for Lollapalooza, but had been told by some locals that this was the tour to see. We picked the nighttime/firework tour, and we were not disappointed. BECKY was an amazing guide. Not only did she give us the historical details of the buildings, but she was amazing at keeping the tour lively and fun. Stoked about this and would highly recommend to anyone visiting Chicago!

Brent T

Now in its 83rd season, Shoreline Sightseeing operates Chicago’s largest and most diverse fleet of cruise boats and water taxis with 11 major tour vessels and 7 water taxis.

Hold Your Event At Navy Pier

Seadog Speedboat Tour on Lake Michigan @Navy Pier Chicago!

Planning a special event in Chicago? Wow your guests with a private event venue unlike any other in the city: Navy Pier. From weddings to corporate retreats to festivals to trade shows, Navy Piers breathtaking venues and unmatched service provide an unparalleled private event experience, ensuring that no detail goes unnoticed.

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Cultural Attractions And Museums

Chicago Childrens Museum: Kids dig for bones on a dinosaur expedition, scale a three-story schooner, and even make a splash in a water playground. Chicago Childrens Museum is three floors of unadulterated fun for kids aged 10 and under. Dont miss the Chicago Childrens Museum store while youre there for fun, educational, and imagination-expanding toys and games.

Chicago Shakespeare Theater: This Tony Award-winning theatre hosts more than 650 performances a year, with a year-round season that presents plays, musicals, world premieres, and visiting touring companies. The theatre is particularly celebrated for The Yard, an engineering marvel in stage design, consisting of nine moveable towers that can be reconfigured to accomplish the vision of each production.

Admire Architecture With Chicagos First Lady

Around the world, Chicago is known for its outstanding architecture, and its easiest to admire the citys legacy from the water. By partnering with the Chicago Architecture Center, Chicagos First Lady offers the most comprehensive tour of the skyline docents must train 100 hours before they can lead tours.

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Most Popular Chicago Boat Tours

  • The #1 Booked Experience listed above? Yeah, thats where Shoreline Sightseeings boat tour comes in. They offer a guided boat tour of the Chicago River. Youll hear some of the story, of Chicagos most influential architects as you cruise past their works of art. If you get the Chicago Go Card, a Chicago tourist attraction discount pass, this tour is included.
  • Sea Dog is a pretty well known company when it comes to high speed boat rides, but they do also offer an Chicago architecture tour. If youre looking for something that really gets the adrenaline going, this could be the best boat tour for you.
  • Tall Ship Windy is a sight for sore eyes on the lake with its billowing sails and beautiful aesthetic. You get the old time allure of a pirate ship with modern conveniences to make your experience memorable . Its a great thing to do in Chicago on family vacation. Your kids will love the pirate ship, and you will love the full bar. Hopefully you dont have to say but, why is the rum gone? Get outta here if you dont get the Pirates of the Caribbean reference.

Brief History Of Navy Pier

Tall Ship Windy.

Between 1942-1945, pilot and navy training took place at the Pier and as many as 200 World War II planes still rest at the bottom of Lake Michigan as a result of accidents during training.

One of the pilots who trained there was George H. W. Bush who later became the president of the United States.

In 1994, Navy Pier began its transformation into becoming Chicagos Playground and continues to change today.

In 2014, Navy Pier was renovated by New York architect James Corner.

And then in 2016, a new Ferris wheel called the Centennial Wheel was built at 150 feet high that operates year-round.


We highly recommend utilizing affordable and convenient public transportation to get to the Navy Pier.

Take the Red Line to the Grand stop and walk 20 minutes east towards Lake Michigan .

Take any of the following buses: #29, #65, #69, #124 Navy Pier, #2 Hyde Park

You can use this for directions to the Navy Pier.

If you are considering purchasing a hop-on-hop-off bus ticket to transport you around Chicago, keep in mind that the Big Bus Company has a stop at the Navy Pier and a 2-day ticket to ride their double-decker buses is included with the Go Chicago Card.

If you must drive, you can find and reserve parking in advance by using Parking Panda.

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Chicago River And Lake Speedboat Tour

speed boatSeadog Downtown Chicago Skyline

  • 75-Minute Tour on the open-air Seadog Power Boat
  • Our pilots are trained tour guides and the Tour includes full narration so you don’t get to miss out on the must see landmarks
  • Awesome Views of Chicago’s legendary achitecture and landmarks
  • Short Speedboat Ride during the Lake Michigan section of the Tour
  • Drinks are welcome to be brought on board
  • Onboard, youll enjoy a show professionally scripted by Hollywood screenwriters and orchestrated to an originally scored soundtrack. So you dont miss a minute of the Chicago performance. Seadog is equipped with a state-of-the-art sound system powering plenty of marine grade speakers!. Book your Chicago River and Lake Speedboat Tour today.

    Chicago Classic Lake Tour: 40

    Skip the ticket booth and get down to sightseeing, all by choosing this straight-to-board package. It offers a chance to get out onto the sloshing surface of Lake Michigan.

    Thats where arguably the most dramatic broadside panoramas of this great American city unfold.

    See if you can spy out the babbling Buckingham Fountain of Grant Park, or the bulbous dome of the Adler Planetarium, not to mention one skyscraper after another, as you travel.

    Theres a bar on board for those hard-earned tipples and refreshments, along with a running commentary that delves into the rich history of the Midwest.

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