On April 1, the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruises sail again. Get on board and accept no imitations. Look for the blue awnings andÂ start here.
Even if it’s gray and drizzling (it was when I went â€” check that sky in the photos), it’s a terrific way to see and hear about the varied architecture along with a bite-size tasteÂ of Chicago’s rich history. Our guide had an encyclopedic knowledge of the buildings and bridges along the route.
You’ll see buildingsÂ thatÂ are past their heyday,
someÂ that are still hanging in,
and those that are high-end real estate.
You’ll learn the fascinating storyÂ of the waterwayÂ itself and how human intervention shaped it. Plus,Â you’ll view those iconic Chicago landmarksÂ from the river’s view.
But perhaps my favorite part was sailingÂ 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 massiveÂ rivetsÂ brought me a wave of nostalgia. And, strangely enough, a wave of happiness.
Thatâ€™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?Â Yes.
Iâ€™m smitten.Â TellÂ meÂ 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.
LocationÂ Southeast corner of the Michigan Avenue Bridge at Wacker Dr. Look for theÂ blue awning marking the stairway entrance. Go down the stairs.
CostÂ $53 for adults including Ticketmaster fees, $32 for infants 3 and under.Â (not sure bringing an infant is a great idea for this cruise, but if you can’t get a sitter…) There is a twilightÂ cruise as well for a few bucks more. You can purchase tickets online here. I just ran up to the ticket office and purchased onsiteÂ 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 â€“ 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.