Chicago Architecture Center River Cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady

Chicago, USA
Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise aboard Chicagos First Lady
  • 1 hour 30 minutes (approx.)
  • Offered in: English


Enjoy a quintessential Chicago experience when you go on an architecture-themed river tour. Pick from multiple convenient start times, and board your vessel—the Lady Liberty—directly from the Chicago Riverwalk. Your trained docent guides will give you a rich introduction to the Windy City’s history, key landmarks, and architectural highlights—and you can spy landmarks like the Marina City towers and Navy Pier from the water’s edge.
  • See a new perspective on the Windy City when you sail the Chicago River
  • Multiple departure times are available to suit your schedule
  • Discover key Chicago landmarks like Navy Pier and Marina City
  • Learn all about the city’s highlights and heritage from your docent guide

What's Included

  • Live commentary on board
  • Local guide (docents)
  • River sightseeing cruise
  • Restroom on board
  • Climate controlled lower level
  • Drinks & light snacks (available to purchase)
  • Storage for luggage
  • WiFi on board

Meeting and Pickup

Meeting point

  • 112 E Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60601, USA

    On Chicago's Riverwalk at Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive. Please use 112 E. Wacker for GPS navigation. Look for our blue awning at street level on the southeast corner of the Michigan Avenue Bridge at Wacker Drive.

End point

This activity ends back at the meeting point.

What To Expect

Additional Info

  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Children must be accompanied by an adult
  • Not recommended for children younger than 12 years
  • Service animals allowed
  • Routes, specific vessels, and schedules are subject to change without notice
  • All seating is General Admission. Boarding is on a first come, first serve basis
  • Near public transportation
  • Most, but not all, departures are wheelchair accessible, please advise at time of booking if wheelchair assistance is required
  • Operates in all weather conditions, please dress appropriately
  • Pets are not allowed
  • Most travelers can participate
  • WARNING: Tickets are not refundable or transferrable to other departures.
  • IMPORTANT: For safety reasons, motorized scooters and electric wheelchairs cannot be accommodated. Guests who are able to transfer may use the company's manual wheelchair based on availability.
  • This tour is available in recorded form in 4 languages: Continental French, Latin American Spanish, Japanese and Korean. To access these languages, please download the "Listen Everywhere" app in advance. Once you are on board the boat, the app will connect and allow you to listen in your selected language as the boat makes its way down the river.
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 250 travelers

Cancellation Policy

This experience is non-refundable and cannot be changed for any reason. If you cancel or ask for an amendment, the amount you paid will not be refunded.

      Frequently Asked Questions

      The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.

      Filter by:

      Q:Where is the departure point for the Chicago Architecture Center River Cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady?

      A:The cruise departs from the scenic dockside along Chicago’s Riverwalk; 3 blocks north of Millennium Park and steps from The Magnificent Mile. The entrance to the Riverwalk dock is street level on the northeast corner of Michigan Ave. and Wacker Dr.

      Apr 2021

      Q:Is there parking available for the Chicago Architecture Center River Cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady?

      A:The nearest parking facility is LAZ Parkins Garage at 111 E Wacker Dr. This garage is directly across the street from the stairway to the dock and next door to the Chicago Architecture Center. There is a fee for parking.

      Apr 2021

      Q:How early should I arrive for my Chicago Architecture Center River Cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady?

      A:Please arrive 30 minutes prior to your cruise departure time - allow extra time in summer!

      Apr 2021

      Q:What should I bring with me on the Chicago Architecture Center River Cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady?

      A:Bring your sunglasses, cap, or visor, as the sun can interfere with your view of the buildings.

      Apr 2021

      Q:Can I purchase food/drinks while onboard the Chicago Architecture Center River Cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady?

      A:Yes - there is a full bar available onboard.

      Apr 2021

      Q:Is the seating assigned during the Chicago Architecture Center River Cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady?

      A:No - All seating is general admission. While seat numbers are printed on the tickets, you can ignore these as they are not valid.

      Apr 2021

      Q:Are there restrooms available during the Chicago Architecture Center River Cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady?

      A:Yes, all the boats have restrooms onboard. Please note: the restrooms close 15 minutes before the end of the tour for safety reasons.

      Apr 2021

      Q:Can I bring luggage with me on the Chicago Architecture Center River Cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady?

      A:Due to security reasons, luggage cannot be brought on board. There is not an area to store your luggage dockside either. Please leave your luggage at your hotel.

      Apr 2021

      Q:Can I bring a stroller with me on the Chicago Architecture Center River Cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady?

      A:Yes, you can bring a stroller onboard. Children must be removed from strollers before boarding. Strollers will be folded and stored in the salon during the cruise.

      Apr 2021

      Q:What happens if it rains on the date of my Chicago Architecture Center River Cruise aboard Chicago's First Lady?

      A:All sailings go out rain or shine. All the boats have two levels – the top deck is open-air, and the lower deck is an enclosed, climate-controlled salon. Each salon is surrounded by large windows so you can stay comfortable while taking in the views.

      Apr 2021

      Traveler Photos

      See more
      Featured review
      The tour guide, Judith, was great. The trip goes up both branches or the river then all the way out to Navy Pier. You learn about the history, style, and architects of the buildings. Parts of those discussions include interesting stories for each as well as the designers' inspirations. We sat on the bow and enjoyed the views. Could hear the announcements fine. Not too windy, but a little breezy. Full hours and a half on water.


      1,949 reviews
      Total review count and overall rating based on Viator and Tripadvisor reviews
      Reviews by Viator travelers.
      Showing 1-10 of 1,949 reviews
      Best view of the city
      Kerry_H, May 2024
      Our docent Betsy was excellent! Best way to see the city! The ticket agents were extremely helpful and the boarding process was a breeze.. Highly recommend.
      Wonderful experience!
      Sharyn_V, May 2024
      Excellent docent…very informative and spoke clearly and could be understood. The boat was very clean and we had a wonderful trip. So many beautiful buildings. The crew was very personable & welcoming. Thank you!
      Highly recommend.
      Diana_R, May 2024
      It was a fun way to see all the beautiful buildings and hear the stories about the architects and meaning behind what they did. I would highly recommend!
      Very informative
      Mark_L, May 2024
      Excellent tour. I would strongly recommend this tour. We were from Boston traveling to Chicago for a few days and the information we obtained was very informative and extremely interesting.
      Paul_C, May 2024
      Kent the volunteer architect was excellent. He has deep historical knowledge and keen critique of architectural styles that kept me interested despite the cold weather. His narrative voice is comparable to NPR Peter Sagal. This is a can’t miss!
      Chicago First Lady Architectural Cruise
      Tom_L, May 2024
      It was annoying to have to show up early to get a paper ticket before getting in a queue instead of receiving a paperless mobile ticket from the get go.
      Great experience
      Eliud_M, May 2024
      Great experience!!! Beautiful view and the tour guide was excellent. My favorite moment of the tour was the part where you can see the whole skyline.
      Coert_D, May 2024
      Knowledge of host was high. Truly loves Chicago! Ship and heads were clean. Accommodated my elderly dad well.
      Crème de la crème of boat tours.
      Cathy_E, May 2024
      Crème de la crème of boat tours. Our docent was knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and inspiring. I’ll never look at buildings again in the same way. Learned so much. Worth every penny!!!
      Don’t Miss This!
      Susan_L, May 2024
      I grew up in Chicago and this is the BEST tour I’ve ever taken! Learned so much about the Windy City from our docent, Ellen. A must-do for both visitors and locals alike.
      Highly recommend
      Kristie_B, May 2024
      This was an excellent experience! The tour guide was outstanding and well informed. I highly recommend this tour.
      Beauty and insight into...
      Lorna_D, May 2024
      Beauty and insight into the River and the history and glory of Chicago. Pleasant light at 4 pm tour.
      The perfect cruise to see and learn about the buildings in Chicago.
      Ivonne_P, Apr 2024
      Comfortable seating. Filled with interesting information. Use your phone to scan the barcode when you board the boat and hear the tour in Spanish. Easy to locate in downtown Chicago. Great location as from the box office one can walk to other must see attractions. The Chicago architecture center is conveniently located right across the street from the box office.
      Great experience
      KANDYE_L, Apr 2024
      The guide was very knowledgeable relatable and witty. Very detailed. It didn't hurt that we had great weather.
      Great experience
      Cesar_P, Apr 2024
      Great tour. Didn’t feel rushed and learned a lot about the history of the architecture. Your guide was very knowledgeable. We went at 4PM and the sun was glaring a bit but it didn’t take away from the beauty.
      Debbie_H, Apr 2024
      The old and the new building histories and how they have come together. Tour guide was great! Sorry so cold this day
      keith_c, Apr 2024
      Fascinating couple of hours. All of these glowing reviews reflect what an excellent excursion this is. Highly recommended
      Very enjoyable!
      Karen_C, Apr 2024
      This was a very enjoyable and informative experience. The guide was very engaging and knowledgeable, and the crew was very friendly.
      Favorite Tour
      Suzette_M, Apr 2024
      Monica was awesome. It’s my second time on the tour. and I’d do it again tomorrow. The architecture and its history are so interesting, the tour flies by quickly. Monica was very knowledgeable and had all sorts of fun food trivia. This is a must do tour! Book it early, our boat was sold out.
      Don’t think twice about your tour… book this one
      Michelle_H, Apr 2024
      This is 90 minutes well worth your time and money. First, I recommend you confirm you will have a good weather day. After that, this is the company to choose. The others are commercialized. First Lady tour is A+ and associated with Chicago Architecture Center. The volunteers who docent are well versed (tested in their knowledge) and know the city and how to share their love for the history and architecture. Don’t think twice about your tour… book this one.

      From $54.00

      -You will not receive a refund if you cancel.

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