Which Is The Best Chicago Architecture Boat Tour

Chicago Architecture

Chicago architecture is known around the world for being iconic, daring and continually evolving—it’s no surprise that there are many ways to take a guided tour of its spectacular skyline. One of the most popular—and arguably the best—ways to get to know Chicago’s iconic skyline is by boat. There are many Chicago architecture boat tours to choose from, and each one offers something different in terms of the sights, sounds and history of the Loop and Lake Michigan. Whether you’re a local Chicagoan or an out of town voyager, taking a Chicago architecture boat tour can be an eye-opening, enthralling experience.
The one particular Chicago architecture boat tour that stands out from the rest is the “Chicago’s First Lady” boat tour. This boat tour consists of a guide, who narrates the tour as well as provides facts about the many Chicago landmarks it passes. During the tour, visitors can expect to see renowned skyscrapers such as the Willis Tower, the John Hancock Building, the Wrigley Building and many others. The tour also sails past other historical sites, such as Navy Pier, the Vietnam War Memorial and the new Pritzker Park.
The tour sets off from the Chicago River in a luxury mahogany yacht, complete with an upper deck. Once the tour begins, visitors are able to choose where they would like to sit—whether it’s on the top deck or in the main cabin. Visitors can also purchase food and drinks to enjoy on the tour.
Along with the narrations, the “Chicago’s First Lady” also puts on a light show every Saturday night, illuminating the skies with the buildings and highlighting the skyline during the evening tours. The tour also comes with a virtual reality experience, in which passengers can see the buildings up close and personal with virtual headsets.
The “Chicago’s First Lady” tour outshines other tours due to the narrations provided by their highly knowledgeable guides, a wide variety of food options, and the virtual reality experience provided. However, it stands out among its competitors due to its higher overall quality, which is reflected in its prices. At $36 per person, it is one of the more expensive tours, but not one that visitors regret.

Why Choose ‘Chicago’s First Lady’

The “Chicago’s First Lady” boat tour is worth the expense because of its level of quality and understanding of the city. Its alternative tour options, such as its seasonal lantern tours, its waterfront events and its winter boat tours, make it more unique and desirable than the standard boat tours.
The boat tour attracts thousands of visitors from all around the world each and every year and lives up to its reputation. Its convenient location and the ease at which visitors can embark on the tour are among its most praised attributes. To book a boat tour, visitors need not wait in long queues at Chicago’s harbor. They can simply book a ticket online and then arrive 15 minutes prior to their tour time.
The boat tour is also praised for its total customer satisfaction policies. Refunds are given if the tour is canceled due to the weather conditions, or if the sight of the skyline is not satisfactory. This is a welcome bonus that helps visitors feel more confident in their purchase.

Cost, Duration and Features

The “Chicago’s First Lady” boat tour comes with a wide variety of features. From drinks and food to virtual reality and light show tours, the tour offers something for every budget. The duration of the tour varies depending on which type of tour an individual books—anywhere from 75 minutes to two hours.
Cost of the tour depends on which type it is, however, the majority all cost $36 per person. This price includes the narrated tour, virtual reality headset, light show, and other such features. The prices of food and drinks vary from boat to boat.

Security Measures

Before embarking on the tour, every passenger must pass through a security check. Security guards search every bag and person and also check for any prohibited items and substances. This helps ensure a safe and secure experience for every passenger and prepares them for a hassle-free journey.
The boat is also equipped with an AIS (Automatic Identification System) that helps crews track the location of the boat and boats in the vicinity of the boat in the Chicago River. This system works both above and below the waterline and prevents collisions in the busy waterways.

Insights and Analysis

The “Chicago’s First Lady” boat tour not only has higher prices than its competitors, but also offers a much higher quality experience. Visitors of all backgrounds agree that the total package—security measures, virtual reality headsets, light show, and narrated tour—makes the price of $36 per person more than worth it.
The reviews from the tour guests are very positive. People are wowed by the majestic views of Chicago’s skyline and its iconic landmarks, such as the Willis Tower, the John Hancock Building, the Wrigley Building and many others. In addition, more and more visitors praise the tour for its smooth ride and convenience. Overall, being able to experience the iconic sights of the Chicago skyline from the comfort of a luxury mahogany yacht is an experience one should not pass up.


The “Chicago’s First Lady” boat tour will make any visitor’s trip to Chicago special, and it’s no surprise that it’s become the gold standard among boat tours of the city. Along with the ease and convenience of the tour, guests rave about the narrations, virtual reality headsets, light show and overall quality of the tour. It’s worth the higher price tag, but given the amount of features, security and quality on board, it’s no surprise that this boat tour outshines all of its competitors.

Anita Johnson is an award-winning author and editor with over 15 years of experience in the fields of architecture, design, and urbanism. She has contributed articles and reviews to a variety of print and online publications on topics related to culture, art, architecture, and design from the late 19th century to the present day. Johnson's deep interest in these topics has informed both her writing and curatorial practice as she seeks to connect readers to the built environment around them.

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