Affordable Chicago Activities and Tours for Budget Travelers
Steely skyscrapers, top chefs, rocking festivals - the Windy City will blow you away with its low-key cultural variety. It has something for everyone. Chicago is a maniacal sports town, with a pro team for every season. Watching a game is a local rite of passage, whether you join the raucous baseball crowd in Wrigley Field's bleachers, or plop down on a bar stool at the neighborhood tavern for whatever match is on TV. Count on making lots of spirited new friends. Should the excitement rub off and inspire you to get active yourself, the city's 26 beaches and 580 parks offer a huge array of play options. Chicago is also a food lover's delight. You will find anything and everything, including the world famous Chicago deep dish pizza. Chicago also has plenty to offer in terms of art and architecture. It's hard to know what to gawp at first. High-flying architecture is everywhere, from the stratospheric, glass-floored Willis Tower to Frank Gehry's swooping silver Pritzker Pavilion to Frank Lloyd Wright's stained-glass Robie House. Whimsical public art studs the streets; you might be walking along and wham, there's an abstract Picasso statue that's not only cool to look at, but you're allowed to go right up and climb on it. There are also several art museums to choose from. Chicago also knows how to rock a festival. Between March and September it throws around 200 events attended by millions over the seven month span. There's so much to do it can be hard to know where to start, but these tours are a great way to help yourself get acclimated to the spectacular city.
Take a Riverboat Architecture Cruise
Cruise down the Chicago River to see the city's famous architecture on this 75-minute tour. With commentary from your onboard guide, watch the spectacular skyline glide by, including more than 40 notable buildings. Cover all three branches of the Chicago River, passing the East Bank Club, the old Post Office Building and the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower). Make your way to either Navy Pier or Michigan Avenue for your cruise departure. Board your river boat and find a comfortable seat; a restroom and sometimes a full bar are available on the boat. Listen as your guide, an architecture expert, gives you an introduction to the city's landmarks. Along the scenic 75-minute route, see buildings by world-famous architects including Mies van der Rohe, Helmut Jahn and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. A boat on the river is the best vantage point to admire the distinct city skyline. Pass by more than 40 distinctive buildings, including the the Aon Center, the John Hancock Center, the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) the Wrigley Building and the IBM Building. Listen as your guide recounts the two major events that helped shape the architectural history of the city. Learn about how the invention of balloon-frame construction revolutionized how homes were built, and hear the dramatic story of Chicago's rise from the Great Fire of 1871. Both of these milestones led Chicago to become one of the cradles of modern American architecture. Your cruise ends at its starting point.
Do a Nighttime Bike Ride
See Chicago light up at night with a 2.5-hour bicycle tour of the Windy City's most iconic sights and neighborhoods. Follow your guide along a leisurely route, watch the Buckingham Fountain light show and take in evening views of Millennium Park and the Museum Campus. Pedal through downtown streets, capture unforgettable images of Chicago's magnificent skyline then finish your tour in the heart of the city. Glimpse evening skyline view, including Soldier Field, Jay Pritzer Music Pavilion, and more! Wednesday and Saturday nights include the fireworks display from Navy Pier. This tour is for all ages and fitness levels, but children must be strong, capable riders.
Chicago Overview on Foot
Explore the Loop's famous architecture during this 2-hour walking tour with an expert guide from the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Discover the beginnings of the Chicago School of Architecture through visits to some of the city's oldest skyscrapers, dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This sophisticated, informative tour is a must-do for history and architecture buffs. Meet your expert guide at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, located on Michigan Avenue across from the Art Institute. Stroll through the Loop area, stopping at multiple buildings and listening to engaging commentary from your guide. You'll see some of the city's earliest skyscrapers, dating from the 1870s to the 1930s. Learn about the architects who influenced the city's aesthetics and how the buildings shaped the city's culture. Visit the following buildings, among others: The Rookery, a National Historic Landmark The Auditorium Building, a Louis Sullivan masterpiece Chicago Board of Trade Building, one of the city's finest examples of Art Deco architecture Your tour ends back at its departure point after 2 hours.
Get Free and Discounted Entry to Major Attractions
Get the most out of your trip to Chicago as you enjoy discounted access
to five of the city's top attractions with the CityPASS. This easy-to-carry booklet grants you free entry
into top-tier sights including the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Adler Planetarium, Skydeck Chicago, Museum of Science and Industry and 360 Chicago (John Hancock Observatory). Plus enjoy a wealth of useful Chicago tips and savings at a variety of other venues and retailers. In addition, the booklet contains a variety of Chicago information and tips, including opening hours, contact information and transport tips. The CityPASS is a great way to save time and money during your next Chicago trip.
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