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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16 Responses to Experiencing Chicago’s architecture through a boat tour

  1. Adam April 23, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    Nice! I took an architecture tour of Chicago back when I was in high school. Such an amazing city…
    Adam recently posted..Dallas/Fort Worth…in lego miniature!

    • Scott April 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm #

      There’s so much to see!

  2. ehalvey April 23, 2012 at 1:18 pm #

    Cool! I took that same tour 2 years ago, while Transformers 3 was being filmed. Always interesting to have Mies van de Rohe on one side, and stuff blowing up on the other, lol.
    ehalvey recently posted..Bizarre Megalithic and Paranormal Travel Spots

    • Scott April 23, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

      Yes, watching Transformers filming was really fun too :)

  3. InsideJourneys April 23, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

    Love Chicago architecture. The C&C Bldg is pretty impressive.
    InsideJourneys recently posted..Weekly Photo Challenge: Sun

    • Scott April 24, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

      It sure is.

  4. Tradewinds Vacations April 24, 2012 at 8:25 am #

    Great post! I am particularly fond of the riverway tours offered in many of the big cities including the Riverwalk in San Antonio. I will have to try this one out. Thanks for the tips.

    • Scott April 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

      They can sometimes be the best way to see a city.

  5. Arti April 24, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    Seems a very beautiful ride. What grand buildings, not what we see here in India!
    I love boat rides, I have done it in Varanasi and Mathura, it is lovely.
    Any plans of you coming down to India?
    Arti recently posted..Temples of Mathura: Krishna Janmbhumi, Peepleshwar Mahadeo and others

    • Scott April 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

      I would like to go there eventually!

  6. Ayelet - All Colores April 27, 2012 at 4:23 am #

    I like the addition of being on the water while touring the architecture!
    Ayelet – All Colores recently posted..Buenos Aires Photos: Eva Peron’s Balcony at the Pink House

    • Scott April 29, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

      It’s better than walking for sure!

  7. Stephanie - The Travel Chica April 28, 2012 at 8:29 am #

    Great shots! This would be a really great way to see the city.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Foto of the Week from … Buenos Aires: The Ecological Reserve

    • Scott April 29, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

      I was surprised how much of the city you can end of seeing this way.

  8. Traveling Ted April 28, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    I have taken this cruise before, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Taking it again in a couple of weeks with some travel tweets coming in on May 12. Thanks for getting me psyched.
    Traveling Ted recently posted..Boogie boarding and bake and shark at Maracas Beach in Trinidad

    • Scott April 29, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

      Cool, it’s one of my favorites!

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