On April 1, the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruises sail again. Get on board and accept no imitations. Look for the blue awnings and start here.
Even if it’s gray and drizzling (it was when I went — check that sky in the photos), it’s a terrific way to see and hear about the varied architecture along with a bite-size taste of Chicago’s rich history. Our guide had an encyclopedic knowledge of the buildings and bridges along the route.
You’ll see buildings that are past their heyday,
some that are still hanging in,
and those that are high-end real estate.
You’ll learn the fascinating story of the waterway itself and how human intervention shaped it. Plus, you’ll view those iconic Chicago landmarks from the river’s view.
But perhaps my favorite part was sailing under the bridges. Maybe because I’m a child of a dying rust-belt city, going under the steel and feeling like I could reach up and touch the massive rivets brought me a wave of nostalgia. And, strangely enough, a wave of happiness.
That’s nice. Sooo, should I go? History buff? Yes. Architecture buff? Yes. Tourist wanting to sit down and go on a nice boat ride for an hour and a half? Yes.
I’m smitten. Tell me more. The cruises sail in the rain, so bring a raincoat or umbrella if raindrops are threatening. There is a bar with adult beverages and snacks. You are also permitted to bring your own food on board.
Location Southeast corner of the Michigan Avenue Bridge at Wacker Dr. Look for the blue awning marking the stairway entrance. Go down the stairs.
Cost $53 for adults including Ticketmaster fees, $32 for infants 3 and under. (not sure bringing an infant is a great idea for this cruise, but if you can’t get a sitter…) There is a twilight cruise as well for a few bucks more. You can purchase tickets online here. I just ran up to the ticket office and purchased onsite as a boat was leaving in 5 minutes.
Tip There are a ton of river cruises in Chicago, but this one by the Chicago Architecture Foundation is focused on that – architecture. Look for the blue awning and the banner “Chicago’s First Lady Cruises.” Not to say the others are bad, but if you’re into Building Porn, this is your ride.