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“Must do!”

Chicago’s First Lady Cruises
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Only the Chicago Architecture Center and Chicago's First Lady Cruises can showcase Chicago's world renowned city architecture with style, class and comfort on the official Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady. Open-air and air-conditioned seating is available. Learn about the architecture and design of over 50 buildings as described by CAC-certified volunteer docents/guides on this 90-minute tour that showcases all three branches of the Chicago River. Full-service bar aboard each vessel. All tours depart from the Chicago Riverwalk at Michigan Ave. and Wacker Dr. (southeast corner of the Michigan Avenue Bridge). Look for our blue awning.
Reviewed July 23, 2013

I'm so glad we did this! It's a 90 minute excursion down the Mississippi River with a knowledgable docent from the Chicago Architecture Foundation. It's a wonderful way to see the beautiful architecture of Chicago and learn a lot about it too. It's also a great vantage point for taking excellent pictures! It's $40 per person but definitely think it's worth it. Several tours each day so just walk up and book. You may have some trouble getting in if you're booking on the weekend but weekday tours seem to be pretty open.

There is a bartender on board if you need it to make it more interesting!

2  Thank ajbauer29
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"river cruise"
in 244 reviews
"top deck"
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"full bar"
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"architecture cruise"
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"different perspective"
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"highly recommend this tour"
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3,673 - 3,677 of 4,637 reviews

Reviewed July 23, 2013

This cruise was fascinating and we had the most knowledgeable tour guide you could wish for. The history of the city and the buildings and how the city progressed through time was magical and there were many very good photo opportunities from the river. I would highly recommend this cruise.

Thank Bob G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 22, 2013

This was a great learning experience for me and the guide was very informative and knew everything and more about all the architecture and history. It seemed a bit long after about an hour and the cost of $40.00 each was more then enough for this tour. I think it would too long for younger children who would probably get bored with it. They did offer drinks which was very nice as it was pretty hot on the upper deck. I enjoyed it but once was enough. I would probably take the Sea Dog as I would have preferred a faster boat and a shorter time frame.

Thank shelley s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 22, 2013

It was a great way to see Chicago. The river is a little dirty in some parts so that can be a bit off putting. It was a nice day to be on the water.

Thank beantownchick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 22, 2013

The hype is true – this is probably the best tour to take in Chicago. As long as the weather is good, you sit in comfort on the open deck as downtown Chicago glides by and an expert not only details the precise architectural history of the stunning buildings, he also gives a master class in the history of the city.

Book early on their webpage but beware the seating on the boat is not numbered, so arrive early to queue for good seats, although most are fine.

One of the more intriguing anecdotes concerns a building designed for jewelers who, for security reasons, on Al Capone’s home patch, drove their cars into the building, into an elevator, drove off at their office floor and parked by their door.

You’ll see monster edifices that were once the world’s largest office building or the world’s largest post office. When you learn Chicago was the mail order capital of the US, you can understand why.

Then there’s the fascinating story of the Chicago River itself and why it flows backwards. The tour boat has a bar on board and the whole trip takes about two hours.

Make sure you visit the small museum, with spotless restrooms, in the bridge tower nearest to where the tour boats dock. You can see the mechanism for these monster trunnion bascule bridges across the Chicago River and historical pictures. These days the numerous bridges only rise about 40 times a year for tall craft. We were lucky enough to be there when they were raised to allow yachts out to their summer playground on the lake.

1  Thank buenvino
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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