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Curious kids enjoy the view on a fun boat trip down the Chicago River with Shoreline Sightseeing

Illinois

Shoreline Sightseeing in Chicago, Illinois: Unique and Memorable Boat Tours

By: Amy Nance

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  • States:
    Illinois

One of the best ways to get to know Chicago is via a boat tour.

Shoreline Sightseeing offers a variety of tours and currently has the largest fleet in Chicago. Established in 1939, Shoreline specializes in entertaining tours showcasing Chicago’s fascinating history and world-famous architecture. Whether you’re on the Chicago River or Lake Michigan, you’re bound to be entertained. Want a unique way to sightsee in Chicago? Navigate through the city’s attractions on a Shoreline Sightseeing water taxi.

Skyscrapers Star on Architecture River Tours

Named the No. 1 tour in the USA for 2017 by TripAdvisor, this architecture river excursion should not be missed. Cruise on a 75-minute Chicago River tour and learn more about the city’s most remarkable buildings and the history behind them. Expert guides will share their keen knowledge with you as you view the work of some of the greatest architects in the world. Bring your camera and capture architectural icons like the neo-gothic Tribune Tower, the beloved Wrigley Building and city landmark, the Navy Pier. Discover how the tragic Great Chicago Fire actually led to the birthplace of the skyscraper. And learn more about Chicago’s spectacular architecture while being entertained by guides with captivating historical tidbits and interesting back stories.

Cruising along the Chicago River

Cruising along the Chicago River
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Skyline Views from Lake Michigan

Leave the rental car behind and get to some of Chicago’s most popular sites by water taxi. Boats depart daily (and every twenty minutes during main season) from four locations, including Navy Pier, Willis (Sears) Tower/Union Station, the Museum Campus and North Michigan Avenue. Both river and lake routes are offered and make stops at all of the above locations (with Soldier Field and Northerly Island within walking distance of the Museum Campus stop). Taxis have both covered and open areas for travelers who want to enjoy a cool breeze with unfettered views of the city.  

A Classic Lake tour departing from the Navy Pier

A Classic Lake tour departing from the Navy Pier
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Climb Aboard a Specialty Tour

With so many ships, it’s no surprise that Shoreline Sightseeing offers a range of themed and special event cruises. Along with sunset and Fourth of July fireworks tours on both Lake Michigan and the Chicago River, Shoreline gets in the spirit with tailgate cruises during the American football season. See the Chicago River turn green on St. Patrick’s Day with a special 75-minute Irish buffet lunch cruise, or climb aboard during Craft Beer Week, where brews, a DJ and appetizers are on tap (other culinary tours include wine tasting and hard cider cruises). For a raucous good time, join Shoreline on a comedy cruise or for Oktoberfest, where beer, bratwurst and standard German fare are served up with music and dancing.

Two Shoreline Sightseeing boats on the Chicago River

Two Shoreline Sightseeing boats on the Chicago River
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Getting There

Travel into Chicago from international destinations via Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) or Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW). Both are less than an hour from downtown Chicago. Shoreline Sightseeing is conveniently located in the city, with vessels docking at Navy Pier, Union Station, North Michigan Avenue and the Museum Campus.

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