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Aon Center

Aon Center: Our most recommended tours and activities

Chicago River: 1.5-Hour Guided Architecture Cruise

1. Chicago River: 1.5-Hour Guided Architecture Cruise

Experience more of Chicago by boat than on any other architectural cruise. See architectural highlights and enjoy an open-air deck or climate-controlled interior as you travel the main River and its north and south branches. View all of Chicago's architectural highlights during this comprehensive sightseeing tour. Be entertained by the expert and friendly tour guides as they explain the 130 year-long history behind the skyline, while bartenders and staff keep you comfortable with refreshments.  Choose between the fresh air of the open-air decks or enjoy the comfort of the climate-controlled interiors during your cruise. The tour starts at the Michigan Avenue (DuSable) bridge and goes up the main branch of the Chicago River past Wolf Point. It then cruises along the north and south branches of the river, before heading back past the Chicago Riverwalk towards Lake Michigan. On the way, learn about ornate, historic early skyscrapers like the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower, the imposing art deco Merchandise Mart, mid-century skyscrapers like the Mies Van der Rohe AMA Building. Don't miss the circular Marina City Towers, the majestic Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower and the tallest building in Chicago) the soaring AON Center, and more modernist structures like Aqua, Trump Tower, Nuveen, and the new Vista Tower. During your cruise, have the opportunity to enjoy a full-service cash bar featuring authentic Chicago products, including local beer and spirits, and Garrett’s Popcorn. Don’t forget to take a selfie at the Grand Staircase at the front of the boat or pose for photos at the picturesque stern or bow of this classic vessel.

Chicago: Family Fun Urban Adventure River and Lake Cruise

2. Chicago: Family Fun Urban Adventure River and Lake Cruise

Discover Chicago’s stunning skyscrapers, historic buildings, and modern marvels on this fun, family friendly boat cruise. Relax and unwind as you admire scenic views from the Chicago River and the Chicago Harbor Lock. Then move out onto Lake Michigan where you can gaze upon the entire city skyline and shoreline. During the boat ride, enjoy lively narration and stories about Chicago’s rich history as your knowledgeable guides point out the many sights of the city including Willis Tower, Aon Center, John Hancock Building, Museum Campus, Marina City, Wrigley Building, Chicago Tribune Building, Navy Pier, the Lighthouse and more. The tour also gives you the opportunity to experience passing through the Chicago River Lock System. Listen to your guide explain the full workings of the lock and feel the boat rise as you enter Lake Michigan, and then lower again when returning to the Chicago River.

Chicago: Must See Chicago 90 minute Walking Tour

3. Chicago: Must See Chicago 90 minute Walking Tour

Starting at the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC), this tour gives you an overview of many of the must see buildings and landmarks in the City of Chicago. Led by an expert guide who has been rigorously trained by the CAC to be equal parts storyteller and educator, you will get a fantastic introduction to the city’s wide variety of architectural styles, construction methods, and materials. There is so much to see downtown, and this tour makes it easy and fun to learn about some of the buildings that make Chicago’s architecture world-class. There are lots of photo opportunities along the way, so be sure to bring your camera! The tour covers three of the main focal points of Downtown Chicago – the Chicago Loop, the heart of historic Chicago; the Chicago River, the lifeblood of the city; and Millennium Park, where the iconic “The Bean” sculpture is located. Landmark buildings covered on this tour include soaring modernist skyscrapers (Willis Tower, John Hancock Center, and AON Building), buildings paying homage to classical styles (Wrigley Building, Tribune Building, the Chicago Theatre, and the Art Institute of Chicago), Art Deco edifices (Carbide & Carbon Building and the Chicago Board of Trade Building), and recently completed skyscrapers (Aqua & Trump Tower). Finally, admission to the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) is also included with your walking tour ticket. CAC exhibits focus on Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods, housing types, leading architects and future projects, and include the largest scale model of the city, with more than 4,250 miniature buildings and a cinematic backdrop animating key moments in its history. The stories of the city begin at the CAC.

Chicago's Modern Skyscrapers Guided Walking Tour

4. Chicago's Modern Skyscrapers Guided Walking Tour

Join a tour which focuses on Modernism, the dominant visual style of the 20th century, which continues to strongly influence design in the 21st century. Modernism has affected the shape of everything from houses to furniture and appliances, cars and even fashion. But the most spectacular effect of Modernism has been the modern skyscraper made of steel or reinforced concrete with vast areas of glass. It is a product of the age of mass production. Chicago is widely considered the birthplace of the skeleton frame, which forms the core of the modern skyscraper. On your tour, learn about how two men made a lasting impact on Chicago, Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and politician, Mayor Richard J. Daley. Enjoy superb views of the riverfront while walking along the River Walk. Highlighted buildings include Marina City, the Daley Center and the IBM Building.

Other Sightseeing Options in Aon Center

Want to discover all there is to do in Aon Center? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Aon Center

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 873 reviews

Very good guide with a lot of insights and architecture knowledge about Chicago. We definitely recommend the tour, it's worth! If it's sunny take a hat with you if you want to sit outside.

Joe was great! The tour was both entertaining and informative. We enjoyed our time and took the suggestions on things to see in Chicago over the rest of our time in Chicago.

Our guide was knowledgeable and kept our interest with good stories. 90 minutes was a perfect amount of time. I’d recommend!

This is a must-do for Chicago residents and visitors. The tour is fun, informative and relaxing. Don't miss it.

arrive early for choice of seating. boat will board around the time you select.