Experiencing Chicago’s architecture through a boat tour

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Chicago has some amazing architecture, and thanks to the Chicago River snaking through the city, you can see it all by taking an architecture boat tour. What will you see on a Chicago architecture boat tour?

Most tours start on Lake Michigan and work their way into the heart of the city. The Trump International Hotel and Tower is one of the first skyscrapers visitors are likely to see as they sit back and relax on the boat. Finished in 2009, the Trump was originally planned to be the tallest building in the world but was later scaled back and is now the second-tallest building in the U.S., behind only the Willis (Sears) Tower.

trump tower

The Wilco towers – the Marina City complex composed of dual cylindrical towers – are even more impressive when you look up at them from river level.

wilco towers chicago

I like how the two American flags add some color and somewhat of a regal appearance to this building.

flag building

The Wrigley Building has been standing high in Chicago since the 1920s. The giant clock on the south tower is nearly 20 feet in diameter, large enough for people to see it from far away. Cool fact: The Wrigley was the city’s first air-conditioned building.

wrigley building

This is my favorite piece of Chicago architecture, the one on the left. It’s called the Carbide & Carbon Building. Constructed during prohibition, the building (according to legend) was nefariously designed to look like a wine bottle, with a greenish terra cotta exterior with a narrow top highlighted by gold accents, which represent the foil on the bottle. Cool!

chicago wine bottle building carbide

The boat tours pass under several of the Windy City’s drawbridges.

kinzie bridge

You can get some cool views looking up from directly underneath the bridges.

under chicago bridge

Eventually, the tours head south and approach the Willis Tower, which towers over its surrounding skyscraper neighbors, even if some odd angles don’t quite make it seem that way.

willis tower

Even residential complexes look cool from the river. Everything looks better on a boat tour!

river apartments chicago

The boat tours range in price, but keep an eye out for online promotions and Groupons. Some even have bars to sell wine and beer, in case the casual boat ride itself is not enough entertainment.

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About Scott Shetler

Scott is a Chicago-based journalist and blogger who seeks out quirky sights and awesome destinations throughout North America and beyond.

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