Amazing Sights to See on a Chicago River Architecture Tour



When Stephanie and I were on our Midwest road trip and visited Chicago, the number one thing everyone (and Google) recommended we do was a Chicago river architecture tour because it’s the best way to see Chicago. And they were right!

If you’re going to Chicago, you definitely need to do a boat tour, and these are all the incredible sights and skyscrapers you can see!

Amazing Sights to See on a Chicago River Architecture Tour

Sights to see on a Chicago river architecture tour

We did our tour with Wendella and we actually signed up for the lake and river tour, but the locks had to be closed so we couldn’t get out on the lake. So we ended up having to just do the extended river tour, and it was great! You get to see a lot of different areas of Chicago that you can’t easily see by foot.

Bridge in Chicago with yellow fall leaves

Chicago skyline view from the river

Brick clock tower on the river in Chicago

Bridge opening in Chicago

Chicago has tons of bridges, including about 40 moveable ones. We actually got lucky and there was a sailboat flotilla going through the city that day, so they were opening bridges that only get opened a handful of times each year.

Sailboats on river in Chicago

Corncob building in Chicago

Corncob buildings in Chicago

These are the Corn Cob buildings! They’re residential towers (so you can’t go inside) built in the 1960s. Chicago has quite a variety in architecture, and these were definitely some of the more unique styles.

Skyscraper with cut outs for wind in Chicago

Bridge opening on river in Chicago

White building with yellow tree on river in Chicago

Green house on bridge in Chicago

Chicago Tribune building

Reflection of Chicago skyline in skyscraper

Skyscrapers on river in Chicago

Skyscrapers on river in Chicago

I love that the Chicago river architecture tour went outside the main part of the city! We got to see parts of the city that we wouldn’t have gone to see otherwise, and we got some great views of the skyline.

The black tower is 875 North Michigan Avenue (formerly John Hancock Center), and it’s over 100 stories tall! You can really see how big it is outside of the city center.

Bridge open on river in Chicago

Chicago skyline on river

Old train bridge in Chicago

The Canal Street Railroad Bridge is a vertical-lift bridge that was built for the railroad. The entire middle section could be lowered for trains to cross the river or raised for boats to pass under. It became a Chicago Landmark in 2007.

Chicago skyline on river

Boat on river in Chicago

Skyscraper with sunflare in Chicago

White clock tower in Chicago

As cool as all the different skyscrapers were, my favorite buildings will always be the historic ones. I loved all the intricate details in them!

Historic white skyscraper in Chicago

Corncob buildings in Chicago

White clock tower in Chicago

Trio skyscraper in Chicago

Designed by Jeanne Gang, the St. Regis Chicago (formerly Wanda Vista tower) pictured above is the third tallest building in Chicago and the tallest skyscraper in the world designed by a woman! I really liked the wavy style, I hadn’t seen a building like that before.

Ferris wheel on river in Chicago

Chicago skyline on the river

Chicago has tons of cool buildings, so those are just some of the amazing sights you can see on a Chicago river architecture tour! If you’re planning a visit to the city, I do have to agree with everyone who says that doing an architecture tour is the #1 thing to do in Chicago 🙂

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Blog, Illinois, North America, Travel, USA

  1. Christina says:

    I had really hoped to take my daughter to Chicago in 2020. Hopefully, we can go soon. I think the river tour needs to be on our “must see” list. Love beutiful buildings and history.

  2. So I totally missed the Chicago River Architecture Tour during my visits to Chicago, mainly due to lack of time (I was there for a training course each time), but funny enough, my friend, Stephanie, is the one who told me about it! What a coincidence; I guess great minds think alike, haha 😉. I’m so bummed I didn’t get to do this though – next time for sure! Your photos are beautiful, and I always love being on the water. Xx Sara

  3. Jill says:

    I’ve never had the chance to visit Chicago yet, and I had no idea the architecture was so diverse. The Corn Cob buildings look wild!!

  4. Goodness! They renamed the Hancock? I had no idea! Once upon a time I was the tourism director of Illinois, so I’ve taken this tour many a time. You didn’t miss a thing. Thanks for bringing me along with you. It felt good to remember all my old architectural friends!

  5. Sophie says:

    It had never occurred to me to take a river tour of Chicago but we’re hoping to visit next year so will definitely be doing this when we go! I agree that the historical buldings are more interesting with their intricate details. I can’t wait to see them in person!

  6. Amy says:

    I took some identical pictures… Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. 😉

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