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Chicago Architecture Foundation

Certificate of Excellence
Downtown / The Loop
As featured in My Chicago Faves
Sponsored by:
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Address: 224 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60604-2505
Phone Number: +1 312-922-3432
9:00 am - 9:00 pm
Open now
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Sun - Sat 9:00 am - 9:00 pm
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours

The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) is a nonprofit cultural...

The Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) is a nonprofit cultural organization with tours, exhibitions, programs and events for all ages. Visit CAF on Michigan Avenue to view our 1,000-building scale model of Chicago, shop in our award-winning store, or participate in a fun LEGO® building event in our ArcelorMittal Design Studio. Choose from 85 tours by boat, walking, bus, or even L train, including the CAF River Cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady Cruises. Tours depart daily and are led by CAF's expert docent guides. Every October, check out CAF's free annual Open House Chicago festival. Proceeds from CAF’s tours and gift shop, as well as grants, sponsorships and donations, support this educational mission.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 1,874 reviews
Visitor rating
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Chicago First Lady = Chicago Architecture Foundation

The volunteer did a great job at the Chicago First Lady boat ride! It was the highlight of our visit and we learned a lot about Chicago! A must to go even though it was pricy... read more

5 of 5 starsReviewed yesterday
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1,874 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 1,758: English reviews
Level Contributor
550 reviews
364 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 96 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed yesterday NEW

The volunteer did a great job at the Chicago First Lady boat ride! It was the highlight of our visit and we learned a lot about Chicago! A must to go even though it was pricy. $46 per perdon for 90 minutes.

Thank OZS969
Richardson, Texas
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 2 days ago NEW via mobile

Definitely worth ur time & money. So much great information & a super way to see some of the city by way of the River. Becky, a docent of the Architecture Foundation did a great job of being our guide. A must see!

Thank trish c
Port Coquitlam, Canada
Level Contributor
255 reviews
61 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 82 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 2 days ago NEW

The Burnham designed Railway Exchange Building is a wonder as is the Chicago Model (over 1000 buildings!) where you can get a bird's eye view of the Loop. This is a great way to start your day; draw your own map with a much better idea of what you want to see - or get a map from the store.... More 

Thank BoomChickaCUBA
Williamsburg, Virginia
Level Contributor
53 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 3 days ago NEW

While visiting Chicago natives, we ALL went on this boat tour. What an education!! The volunteer docents are so well informed and entertaining. This was a perfect introduction to the history of Chicago and the fascinating buildings both new and old. The tour lasts 90 minutes, but we could have been entertained twice as long!! If the people who live... More 

Thank Nonnie6
Level Contributor
16 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 3 days ago NEW via mobile

First time trip included 1 1/2 hour river cruise to highlight the architecture of Chicago. Tour guide was excellent and blend of old and new buildings was impressive. Never realized how beautiful this part of Chicago was. Highly recommend this tour - well worth the price.

Review collected in partnership with Windows 10 app

Thank DaveDebBoston
Midlothian, Virginia
Level Contributor
17 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 3 days ago NEW via mobile

Easily the best architectural boat tour in the city. The docents are either practicing or retired architects. Therefore, you get a docent who KNOWS what he is talking about and not some philosophy student with a script. You also get a smattering of Chicago history. Best hour and a half you will spend in Chicago. Unless you are with Kate... More 

Thank Peppy1211
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Level Contributor
13 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 days ago NEW

I've taken the river architecture tour twice - 5 years apart. Both times it was a great educational experience. Relaxing and very knowledgeable docents. LIsa T was was the docent last weekend and knew so much about the history of the river and the buildings.- great job!

Thank Carina J
Level Contributor
8 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 4 days ago NEW

If you want to learn about the architecture of downtown Chicago this is the boat tour for you. Tour guide talked the entire time and gave interesting bits of knowledge about the different buildings downtown. The architecture of the buildings are amazing and hearing the history behind them really explains why they were built the way they were. Highly recommend... More 

Thank ldydy24
Huntington, New York
Level Contributor
14 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 5 days ago NEW via mobile

The one hour tour of the first house Frank Lloyd Wright built for his family in Oak Park was outstanding! The docent was extremely knowledgable. The tour also included the studio, which was added in 1898. Anyone interested in American architecture must see these buildings.

Thank Margaret P
ChiArchitecture, Marketing Coordinator at Chicago Architecture Foundation, responded to this review

Hello Margaret, Thanks so much for joining us on the Frank Lloyd Wright in Oak Park tour! We're happy to hear that you found your docent to be knowledgable and the tour enjoyable. We appreciate your review tremendously! More 

Laval, Quebec, Canada
Level Contributor
34 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed 5 days ago NEW

- The tour guides for both the Bus & Boat tours were excellent !! - Very knowledgeable - Use humor to accent funny facts Chicago is a beautiful city...:)

Thank Jacques D
ChiArchitecture, Marketing Coordinator at Chicago Architecture Foundation, responded to this review

Hi Jacques, Thanks so much for attending two tours with us as well as for recommending CAF to others on TripAdvisor. We appreciate it tremendously! More 

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  • Will you pick up and drop off at my hotel?
  • I have a family of 7. Can your tour accommodate all of us together?
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Staying in Downtown / The Loop

Neighborhood Profile
Downtown / The Loop
Often visitors' first stop in Chicago, The Loop is a good starting point to sample the city's energy and flavor. This central business district boasts Michelin-rated restaurants, upscale hotels, premier shopping, and enough arresting architecture to keep your camera busy for hours. You won’t find too many photo galleries of downtown Chicago without a shot of Millennium Park and Cloud Gate (“The Bean”), one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. A stunning skyline coupled with cultural attractions like the Art Institute of Chicago present a Downtown where work and play peacefully coexist.