City Orientation Walk, Chicago (Self Guided)

Chicago is the thirds largest city in the United States, it is located on the shore of Lake Michigan, and it offers numerous vibrant tourist attractions. It is a thriving center of international trade and commerce and a city of world-class status and unsurpassed beauty. It features world-famous museums and galleries, amazing architecture, lake front parks and a huge variety of restaurants and shops. Take this orientation walk to explore the best tourist attractions in Chicago.
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City Orientation Walk Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walk
Guide Location: USA » Chicago (See other walking tours in Chicago)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 18
Tour Duration: 4 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.1 km
Author: doris
Willis Tower / Skydeck Chicago

1) Willis Tower / Skydeck Chicago (must see)

Willis Tower, built as and still commonly referred to as the Sears Tower, is a 108-story 1,451 feet (442 m) skyscraper in Chicago, Illinois. At completion in 1973, it surpassed the World Trade Center towers in New York to become the tallest building in the world, a title it held for nearly 25 years; it remained the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere until the completion of a new building at the rebuilt World Trade Center site in 2014. Currently, the Willis Tower is the second-tallest building in the United States and the Western hemisphere – and the 16th-tallest in the world.

The Willis Tower observation deck, called the Skydeck, opened on June 22, 1974. Located on the tower's 103rd floor, it is 1,353 feet (412.4 m) high, making it the highest observation deck in the United States and one of Chicago's most famous tourist attractions. Tourists can experience how the building sways on a windy day. They also can see far over the plains of Illinois and across Lake Michigan to Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin on a clear day. Elevators take tourists to the top in about 60 seconds and allow them to feel the pressure change as they rise up.

Why You Should Visit:
The views are genuinely stunning and, providing you have the stomach for it, you should definitely line up to step onto the Ledge – the glass box that juts out the side of the viewing floor, perfect for photo ops.

The observatory is not very big but waiting for the actual glass bottom ledge takes a while, so try going straight to the ledge first to beat the crowd and then take your time to go around.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Rookery Building

2) Rookery Building (must see)

The Rookery Building is a historic landmark located in the Loop community area of Chicago. Completed by John Wellborn Root and Daniel Burnham of Burnham and Root in 1888, it is considered one of their masterpiece buildings. It measures 181 feet (55 m), is twelve stories tall and is considered the oldest standing high-rise in Chicago. It has a unique style with exterior load-bearing walls and an interior steel frame. The building was designated a Chicago Landmark on July 5, 1972. The name Rookery comes from the previous building on the property, which became home to many birds, especially pigeons. The red marble, terra cotta and brick facade of the building is a combination of Roman Revival and Queen Anne styles that embraced Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. The building, which is a combination of iron framing and masonry bearing walls, marked a transition from masonry load-bearing structures to steel skeleton load-bearing structures.

Why You Should Visit:
From the outside, it looks like any of the classic buildings in Chicago; from the inside, you really get pulled in and held in awe.

You can stop in and see the lobby for free, but to see the best parts (such as the famed D-spiral staircase & other architectural aspects) you will need the guided tour offered Monday through Friday at noon.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8am-6pm; Sat: 8am-2pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Art Institute of Chicago

3) Art Institute of Chicago (must see)

The Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) is an encyclopedic fine art museum located in Chicago, Illinois's Grant Park. The Art Institute has one of the world's most notable collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art in its permanent collection. Its diverse holdings also include significant Old Master works, American art, European and American decorative arts, Asian art and modern and contemporary art. It is located at 111 South Michigan Avenue in the Chicago Landmark Historic Michigan Boulevard District. The museum is associated with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is overseen by Director and President James Cuno. At one million square feet, it is the second largest art museum in the United States behind only the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Why You Should Visit:
A world-class collection with much depth and variety of artworks, artifacts, antiquities and curiosities that caters for all tastes and ages.
The museum is thoughtfully laid out and you can take a guided tour starting at noon.

If you're not a member, go during the week to avoid the crowds if you can.
Prioritize what you want to see! Buy the little booklet that is sold with the tickets; it will help you with the selection and makes for a nice memorabilia.
There are several restaurants inside, so pace yourself with lunch, coffee and/or drinks. The cafe in the basement is one of the nicest museum cafes in Chicago, with a wide array of grill & healthy fair.

Opening Hours:
Fri-Wed: 10:30am–5pm; Thu: 10:30am-8pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Buckingham Fountain

4) Buckingham Fountain (must see)

Buckingham Fountain is a Chicago landmark in Grant Park which was dedicated in 1927. The fountain is considered to be Chicago's front door, since it resides in Grant Park, the city's front yard. The fountain, located at Columbus Drive and Congress Parkway, was designed with sculptures by Jacques Lambert. The fountain itself represents Lake Michigan, while each seahorse symbolizes a state bordering the lake. The statues were created by the French sculptor Marcel F. Loyau. The design of the fountain was based on the Bassin de Latome and modeled after Latona Fountain at Versailles. The fountain runs from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day from mid-April to mid-October. During a water display that runs for 20 minutes every hour on the hour, the center jet shoots up to 150 feet (46 m) in the air. At dusk, a light and music show coincides with the water display. The last show of the night begins at 10:00 p.m. Each display lasts for 20 minutes.

Why You Should Visit:
Quite a sight to see this fountain with the Chicago city skyline in the background – one of the greatest photo op spots in the city.
Also, the water goes higher than just about any other fountain you've ever seen!

Remember that the fountain is shut down for winter months.
Otherwise, enjoy the light show after dark!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 8am-11pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Grant Park

5) Grant Park (must see)

Regarded as Chicago's “front yard”, Grant Park opened way back in 1835. The main attraction here is the Clarence Buckingham Fountain, situated in the center of the park. Its structure has a French style geometric design. The park is divided into different areas with flower gardens, trees and monuments. One distinct monument portrays the sixteenth president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.

Why You Should Visit:
Perfect for a date, a solid stroll, a run, a bike ride, a family outing...
Plenty of places to grab a spot for a picnic and spend some quiet, relaxing time.
There are hundreds of events all summer long and plenty in the winter as well.

Bring a towel/blanket to sit on for concerts and to take a break under a tree.
If you like biking, try the lakeside route – it's great!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 6am-11pm
BP Pedestrian Bridge

6) BP Pedestrian Bridge (must see)

The BP Pedestrian Bridge, or simply BP Bridge, is a girder footbridge in the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois. It spans Columbus Drive to connect Daley Bicentennial Plaza with Millennium Park, both parts of the larger Grant Park. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry, it opened along with the rest of Millennium Park on July 16, 2004. Gehry had been courted by the city to design the bridge and the neighboring Jay Pritzker Pavilion, and eventually agreed to do so after the Pritzker family funded the Pavilion. BP Bridge is described as snakelike because of its curving form. Designed to bear a heavy load without structural problems caused by its own weight, it has won awards for its use of sheet metal. The bridge is known for its aesthetics, and Gehry's style is seen in its biomorphic allusions and extensive sculptural use of stainless steel plates to express abstraction.

Why You Should Visit:
On a beautiful cool day, this is one of the most beautiful walks you can take in Chicago!
The wide curvy path provides continuous opportunities to enjoy the city skyline and lake view. Nice views of both Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park, too.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Jay Pritzker Pavilion

7) Jay Pritzker Pavilion (must see)

Jay Pritzker Pavilion, also known as Pritzker Pavilion or Pritzker Music Pavilion, is a bandshell in Millennium Park in the Loop community area of Chicago. The pavilion was named after Jay Pritzker, whose family is known for owning Hyatt Hotels. The building was designed by architect Frank Gehry, who accepted the design commission in April 1999. Pritzker Pavilion serves as the centerpiece for Millennium Park and is the new home of the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra and Chorus and the Grant Park Music Festival, the nation's only remaining free outdoor classical music series. It also hosts a wide range of music series and annual performing arts events. Performers ranging from mainstream rock bands to classical musicians and opera singers have appeared at the pavilion, which even hosts physical fitness activities such as yoga.

Why You Should Visit:
Great outdoor theater experience: interesting design, state of the art acoustics, ample seating (both seats & lawn), large stage with huge video screen and restrooms adjacent, convenient location.
Most concerts are free and well attended, and there is a wide variety of entertainment.

Look up the presentation schedule and either get there early or buy seats. The park in front is also an option to enjoy the presentations, though you might not enjoy an absolutely clear sound.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Crown Fountain

8) Crown Fountain (must see)

Crown Fountain is an interactive work of public art and video sculpture featured in Chicago's Millennium Park, which is located in the Loop community area. Designed by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa, it opened in July 2004. The fountain is composed of a black granite reflecting pool placed between a pair of glass brick towers. The towers are 50 feet (15.2m) tall and use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to display digital videos on their inward faces. Weather permitting, the water operates from May to October, intermittently cascading down the two towers and spouting through a nozzle on each tower's front face. Residents and critics have praised the fountain for its artistic and entertainment features. It highlights Plensa's themes of dualism, light, and water, extending the use of video technology from his prior works. Its use of water is unique among Chicago's many fountains, in that it promotes physical interaction between the public and the water.

Why You Should Visit:
A very nice addition to Chicago's world-renowned public art collection; fun to sit down and relax (or else bring a towel and spare clothes!).
The fountain & water jets are great for the kids to run around and frolic through, especially on a hot summer's day.

The lighting is fantastic – you should go at night to see the full effect.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cloud Gate

9) Cloud Gate (must see)

The Cloud Gate, also called simply "The Bean", weighs over 110 tons, is 66 feet long and 33 feet high and made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together. The amazing sculpture has the appearance of a giant drop of liquid mercury. Its surface features spectacular images of the Chicago's skyline. Being very concave, the bottom of the sculpture creates a spectacular fun mirror effect of the people who walk underneath it.

Why You Should Visit:
Fascinating piece of artwork that allows to playfully take pictures at different angles and get amazing backgrounds in your pictures.

Visit on a sunny day for better photos. Note that on a rainy day if there's a thunderstorm, you won't even be allowed near the statue as it poses a risk of electrocution!
Millennium Park

10) Millennium Park (must see)

Millennium Park is a public park located in the Loop community area of Chicago and originally intended to celebrate the third millennium. It is a prominent civic center near the city's Lake Michigan shoreline that covers a 24.5-acre (99,000 m2) section of northwestern Grant Park. The park, which is bounded by Michigan Avenue, Randolph Street, Columbus Drive, and East Monroe Drive, features a variety of public art. In 2015, the park became the location of the city's annual Christmas tree lighting.

The park has received awards for its accessibility and green design. It has free admission and features the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Cloud Gate, the Crown Fountain, the Lurie Garden, and various other attractions. The park is connected by the BP Pedestrian Bridge and the Nichols Bridgeway to other parts of Grant Park. Because the park sits atop a parking garage and the commuter rail Millennium Station, it is considered the world's largest rooftop garden.

In 2017, Millennium Park was the top tourist destination in Chicago and the Midwest and placed among the top ten in the United States with 25 million annual visitors.

Why You Should Visit:
Enjoyable for all age groups. Great for singles, couples, groups, family.
With so many sites and attractions, you can spend days just walking and exploring.

Get up early one morning as you'll have the park to yourself and be able to enjoy interacting with the exhibits more personally.
Go back later in the evening as both the exhibits and atmosphere change.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 6am-11pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
State Street

11) State Street (must see)

State Street is located in the heart of Chicago. This historical venue is Chicago's most famous shopping destination. It offers a pleasing blend of affordable and stylish shopping. Macy's multi-level department store anchors the retail row which includes fashion favorites like H&M, Filene's Basement, Lerner New York, Forever 21, Nordstrom Rack, Urban Outfitters, Akira and T.J. Maxx.
Chicago Theatre

12) Chicago Theatre (must see)

The Chicago Theatre, originally known as the Balaban and Katz Chicago Theatre, is a landmark theater located on North State Street in the Loop area of Chicago, Illinois. When it opened on October 26, 1921, the 3,880 seat theater was promoted as the "Wonder Theatre of the World". Now the Chicago Theatre is a performing arts venue for stage plays, magic shows, comedy, speeches, and popular music concerts. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 6, 1979, and it was listed as a Chicago Landmark on January 28, 1983. The iconic Chicago Theatre marquee, "as an unofficial emblem of the city", appears in film, television, artwork, and photography. The structure is seven stories tall and fills nearly one half of a city block. The interior shows French Baroque influence from the Second French Empire. The grand lobby, five stories high and surrounded by gallery promenades at the mezzanine and balcony levels, is influenced by the Royal Chapel at Versailles.

Why You Should Visit:
Ornate classic theater with an old-school ambiance; beautiful lobby and plenty of decorations to see inside before a show starts.
The daily 12 PM tour takes you throughout the building, its history, construction and curiosities, and you even get to go on the stage.

There is much to do nearby – shopping/restaurants/other theaters, so if you arrive too early you can grab a bite or drink nearby.
Even if you don't see a show here, you have to at least snap a pic from the outside!
Sight description based on wikipedia
Michigan Avenue Bridge

13) Michigan Avenue Bridge (must see)

The Michigan Avenue Bridge (officially DuSable Bridge) is a bascule bridge that carries Michigan Avenue across the Chicago River, the boundary between the Loop and Near North Side community areas, in downtown Chicago. The bridge was built from 1917–1920 as two parallel bridges that operate independently of one another. It was designed by architect Edward H. Bennett, and is an early example of a fixed trunnion bascule bridge, which later became widely known as a "Chicago style bascule". The bridge features friezes including Wheeler Williams' "Tablets to Pioneers". When the bridge was completed it was the main link between the north side and downtown. In spring and autumn, the bridge is raised twice weekly to allow sailboats to pass between Lake Michigan and inland boat yards where they are stored for the winter. The plaza is home to Cloud Gate, a three-story, 110-ton steel sculpture that has been dubbed by residents as "The Bean".

Why You Should Visit:
The best place to see the Chicago River in all its glory, and great for pictures overlooking Magnificent Mile. You can also catch a ride on the water taxi!

This bridge makes it possible to cross the river without getting your feet wet! :)
There is a statue of Mr. DuSable on its northern side, great for a selfie that nobody will understand ;)
Sight description based on wikipedia
Wrigley Building

14) Wrigley Building (must see)

The Wrigley Building is a skyscraper located directly across Michigan Avenue from the Tribune Tower on the Magnificent Mile. It was built to house the corporate headquarters of the Wrigley Company. The building was designed by the architectural firm of Graham, Anderson, Probst & White using the shape of the Giralda tower of Seville's Cathedral combined with French Renaissance details. The 425-foot (130 m) south tower was completed in April 1921 and the north tower in May 1924. Walkways between the towers were added at the ground level and the third floor. At night, the building is brightly lit with floodlights.

The Wrigley Building was Chicago’s first air-conditioned office building. If one walks through the center doors, they will find themselves in a secluded park area overlooking the Chicago River.

The new owners made the building more attractive to businesses by adding a Walgreens, a coffee shop, a fitness center and a nursing room for mothers.

Why You Should Visit:
One of the most beautiful buildings in Chicago, amazing from all angles and at all times of day, easy to get to, and surrounded by other cool architecture – a must-see in the downtown area.

Tours of the building are available inside.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 8am-6pm; Sat: 8am-12pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Magnificent Mile

15) Magnificent Mile

The Magnificent Mile, sometimes referred to as The Mag Mile, is an upscale section of Chicago's Michigan Avenue, running from the Chicago River to Oak Street in the Near North Side. Currently Chicago's largest shopping district, various mid-range and high-end shops line this section of the street; approximately 3,100,000 square feet (290,000 m2) are occupied by retail, restaurants, museums and hotels. To date, rent on The Magnificent Mile is the eighth most expensive in the country, behind Fifth Avenue in New York and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Water Tower

16) Water Tower (must see)

The Water Tower was first built in 1869. It is one of the few constructions that survived the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. Today, the tower is considered a monument to that event. With its smaller Gothic-style towers, the Water Tower looks more like a tiny European 13th-century castle. Everyone is invited to make a stop at the Visitors' Center and the City Gallery nearby (the latter has free temporary exhibitions open to the public).

Why You Should Visit:
Great photo ops here and there's a nice little green space with benches around it to rest.

While it looks good during the day, it looks even better at night when it's all lit up.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10am-9pm; Sun: 10am-6pm
Water Tower Place

17) Water Tower Place

Water Tower Place claims to be Chicago's premier shopping destination. It is a 758,000 sq ft shopping mall, featuring eight sophisticated levels and more than 100 of your favorite stores and restaurants plus a mix of distinctive specialty shops and boutiques. Here, shoppers can have a unique, high-energy urban shopping experience.

Operation hours: Monday-Saturday: 10:00 am - 9:00 pm; Sunday: 11:00 am - 6:00 pm
John Hancock Center

18) John Hancock Center (must see)

John Hancock Center at 875 North Michigan Avenue in the Gold Coast area of Chicago, Illinois, is a 100-story skyscraper, constructed under the supervision of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, with chief designer Bruce Graham and structural engineer Fazlur Khan. When the building topped out on May 6, 1968, it was the tallest building in the world outside New York City. It is currently the fourth-tallest building in Chicago and the ninth-tallest in the United States.

The Skydeck elevators of the John Hancock center, manufactured by Otis, travel 94 floors at a top speed of 1800 ft/min. From the 95th floor restaurant, diners can look out at Chicago and Lake Michigan. The Observatory (360 Chicago), which competes with the Willis Tower's Skydeck, has a 360° view of the city, up to four states, and a distance of over 80 miles (130 km). The Observatory has Chicago's only open-air SkyWalk and also features a free multimedia tour in six languages. The 44th-floor sky lobby features America's highest indoor swimming pool.

Why You Should Visit:
The views are exceptional as expected. There is a separate fee to experience TILT, which tilts you out 30 degrees over the side of the building and gives a breathtaking view of the skyline.

Go for it when it's not cloudy/foggy to completely enjoy the experience.
Don't go for the TILT if you have a strong fear of heights!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-11pm
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Chicago, Illinois

Create Your Own Walk in Chicago

Create Your Own Walk in Chicago

Creating your own self-guided walk in Chicago is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Architectural Walking Tour in The Loop District

Architectural Walking Tour in The Loop District

Chicago features an outstanding architectural legacy. This city has long been connected with some of architecture's most important names: Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, Mies van der Rohe, and Holabird & Root. The Loop District offers an extensive number of Chicago's famous architectural "must-see" buildings such as Aqua Tower, Willis Tower, Chicago Theatre, or Rookery...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 km
Best Jazz and Blues Clubs Tour

Best Jazz and Blues Clubs Tour

Chicago is considered to be one of the most important destinations where Jazz & Blues developed. In the 1920s this city became a center of hot jazz. At the same time blues started to invade Chicago. So if you are a fan of Jazz and/or Blues or you simply like listening to great music, take this walking tour and don't miss the chance to visit some of the best Jazz & Blues clubs in...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 km
Souvenir Shopping Part 1

Souvenir Shopping Part 1

It would be a pity to leave Chicago without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Chicago, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 km
Millennium and Grant Parks Walking Tour

Millennium and Grant Parks Walking Tour

Chicago offers a wide range of amazing green outdoor spaces. Grant and Millennium are two lakefront parks, that represent the city's progressive design streak from the 19th century to the 21st. These parks feature amazing architecture and design. Take this walk to explore the beauties the two parks have to offer.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 km
Discovering Chinatown

Discovering Chinatown

Located in the Armour Square, the Chinatown in Chicago was first established in 1912. It is considered the best example of American Chinatown. Here, you will find a wide range of unique boutiques, specialty shops, amazing religious buildings, Chinese medicine stores and Chinese restaurants. Take this walking tour to discover Chicago's Chinatown.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 km
Art Galleries Tour

Art Galleries Tour

The art world in Chicago is considered vast. There is a large number of art galleries in this city and each gallery has its own unique setup and outstanding exhibitions on display. The beautiful galleries feature works in a wide range of fields, from up-and-coming artists to famous artists like Pablo Picasso. Take this walking tour to explore some of the most famous galleries in Chicago.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Chicago Souvenirs: 15 Distinct Local Products to Bring Home

Chicago Souvenirs: 15 Distinct Local Products to Bring Home

One of the most fascinating cities in the U.S., if not the whole world, Chicago has no shortage of things closely associated with it, often due to their direct origin (blues, gangstership, etc.), so one might literally be spoiled for choice as to what to choose as a "piece" of Chicago to...

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Chicago for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Chicago has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Chicago's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as Chicago CityPASS, Go Chicago Card, or Chicago Explorer Pass.

A city pass combines all or multiple Chicago's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip lines at major attractions, thus saving your precious time.

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Chicago hotels conveniently located for a comfortable stroll: The Silversmith Hotel, The Palmer House Hilton, Chicago Athletic Association.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Chicago, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Chicago typically costs somewhere between US$30 and US$70 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off double-decker (or a bus trolley, in winter) to enjoy sightseeing of Chicago in comfort listening in the headsets either to the recorded commentary in a variety of foreign languages or to a live on-board commentary from a local expert, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the route as often as you like. The tickets are valid for 24, 48, or 72 hours.

- Dig into the infamous chapter of the history of Chicago, once the criminal capital of the United States, on a crime tour exploring the city’s underworld at its height back in the 1920s-30s. See the actual places and hear the stories associated with the mob names like Al Capone, John Dillinger, and other notorious gangsters.

- Explore the well- and not so well-known pieces of Chicago's design-rich architecture on a 2-hour guided walk to some of the city's prominent landmarks, elegant lobbies, and underground corridors accompanied by educational insights from an expert guide.

- Pedal your way around Chicago on a 4-hour guided bike tour for a chance to get a profound understanding of the city, to taste all of its classical eats in a single go, plus to see the most spectacular highlights of its north side neighborhoods and to cruise one of the most popular waterfront bike paths in the U.S.

- Embark on a self-balancing Segway tour of Chicago – this usually lasts about 1.5-2 hours and allows visitors to get a real sense of the city. Most people (even those aged 70+) find it quite fun and convenient, enabling to cover much more ground than you otherwise could have done by walking.

Day Trips

If you have a full or half day to spare whilst in Chicago, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Oak Park or Plano. For as little as US$55 per person you will get a chance to discover the Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District – the birthplace of the famed Prairie Style architecture, as well as to explore the exterior and interior of the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe and to learn about the life and work of this prominent architect. For any of these tours you will be picked up at a designated place in Chicago and transported by a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle to the destination of your choice and back again.