Chicago Bus Tours

Like most modern metropolises, Chicago has a wide array of mass travel options to take you virtually anywhere you want to go in the city. Few of these options compare to the Chicago Bus tours that you can take to enjoy the grandeur of Chicago’s architectural wonders.

Over the years, we have taken a number of these tours ourselves, and want to share with you a few of our favorite Chicago bus tours that you can enjoy next time you visit Chicago.

5 Favorite Chicago Bus Tours

Hop On-Hop Off Bus Tours – The first tour that we want to discuss is the best choice for those looking to explore Chicago’s downtown and lakefront. The hop on and hop tour is exactly what it sounds like. You can hop on at various sites around the downtown area, and then hop off to get a closer look at specific Chicago landmarks like the Hancock Building, Sears Tower, Navy Pier, Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, and other famous Chicago spots. The great thing about the tour is that you can get either a single day, or a two day pass, so you can visit the various locations at your own pace.

CTA Bus – OK! I know this is not a tour company, but the Chicago CTA travels through most major streets in the city. If you really want to get a taste of the real Chicago, try out the CTA. It is not a guided tour, but you still get to see some of the best sites. Bus Routes 134, 135, and 136 go through Lake Shore Drive, while routes 151 or 143 are best for going down to Lake Michigan.

640px CTA articulated bus Chicago Bus Tours

Chicago Grand Tour – This option is part walking and part bus tour. A half day trip that takes you from the south side of the city (Check out President Obama’s former neighborhood and residence), through the iconic downtown, to the North side of the city (Wrigley Field and Water Tower Place.) Additionally, the tour includes a ticket to the 94th floor of the Hancock Building’s 360 Chicago. On a clear day you can see Wisconsin, Indiana, and even Michigan.

Excursions Into the Unknown – Perhaps you want to tour the supernatural side of Chicago? If so, then you will want an expert ghost hunter to lead the tour. Dale Kaczmarek is a leading ghost research expert, who tours the haunted Churches, Gangster hideouts, and more. Note: This tour starts in Chicago Ridge. If you are coming from the city, take the CTA Red line to 95th Street (last stop). Then take the 381 Bus west to the mall.

Chicago Architecture Foundation Bus Tour – No list of Chicago tours would be complete without an architecture tour. The Chicago Architecture Foundation bus drives through Frank Lloyd Wright neighborhoods and lets you explores the city skyscrapers from comfortable trolleys. Chicago has been defined by its world class architecture since the end of the 19th century. See for yourself what makes this city a wonder of steel and stone.

Which Chicago Bus Tour Should You Take?

With so many different options for bus tours, think about the best options for your needs? Do you need something simple to get you from point A to B, or do you want a full tour with all the bells and whistles. When you know what you want, it will help you choose the right tour for you. In the meantime, let us know in the comment area below which Chicago bus tour you took, so we get your thoughts on the quality of the tour.


Finding The Best Chicago Architecture Tours For You

Chicago has been a leader in architecture for over 100 years now. Ever since the days of Frank Lloyd Wright, Chicago’s architectural marvels have wowed the world. This is why you will find so many Chicago architecture tours around the city. So many buildings and skyscrapers to explore that a tour is almost required for those unfamiliar with this urban landscape of beauty.

However, the tours vary so widely. That is why Welcome Inn Manor sorted out the best architecture tours in Chicago.

Best Chicago Architecture Tours

Walking Tours

Chicago Loop Art & Architecture Walking Tour

Chicago Tours offers an interesting architecture and art walk. Not only do you get to see well-renown sculptures, like the Picasso statue in front of the Daley Center and the infamous CloudGate (commonly referred to as the Bean) sculpture in Millennium Park. Also, do not forget to go to Buckingham Fountain, also located in Millennium Park. Your best bet for seeing the fountain is late in the afternoon. That way, you can observe the amazing carvings on the fountain, and as the light fades watch the colored water shows.

Then sprinkle in some of the greatest architectural finds in the city, including the Chicago Cultural Center (a good place to check out later on in your trip) and the Thompson Center (State of Illinois’s weird glass dome structure). Along the way, you will see the skyscrapers that have made an indelible impression on the city’s growth.

Free Chicago Loop Highlight Tour

One of the new trends in tourism are free walking tours of the city. Well, these tours are not exactly free, but we will discuss that in a second. Free Tours By Foot is one of the new breed of tours operators here in the US. In Europe these types of tours are all the rage.

This is not an architectural tour, but does highlight a lot of the city’s amazing architecture in the loop. Then at the end of the tour, you tip your tour guide based on how well you think they did. $10-15 tips per person are common for these tours, and are still cheaper than a number of other tour operations in the city. This is a walking tour, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes and be aware of the fact that this tour attracts a younger crowd. 

River Boat Tours

Chicago Architectural Cruise – Weekends and Holidays

Chicago architecture and art are just one part of the city. What is going downtown without checking out the Chicago river or lakefront. The iconic waterways of downtown Chicago add their own intrigue and amazement for visitors. Just look at the majestic Michigan Avenue Bridge and you can see an interplay between nature and commercial architecture.

As you travel down the river, you will see the Wrigley Building, Chicago Tribune, and many other historic buildings that have defined this Midwestern architectural mecca.

Chicago Architecture Foundation River Boat Tours

If Chicago Tours does not have any room, then you might want to take a river cruise with the Chicago Architectural Foundation. Their devotion to the Chicago Architectural scene is immense. Travel down the river with them, and go back in time as you see how Chicago led the development of the modern architectural era of skyscrapers and designs.

Chicago Architecture River Cruise

Viators operates the final river cruise tour. They go through the north and side branches of the river, also hitting Willis Tower and the East Bank club, as well discussing the history on the major events that formed the current Chicago skyline.


Self Guided Chicago Loop/Architecture Tour

Do you want to go at your own pace? Then Metro Walkz self-guided tour might be the best solution for you. If you hate being part of the tourist trap with 100 strangers, then you might want to consider exploring the city on your own. Metro Walkz can help you with self-guided

Enjoy Your Next Architectural Tour

Have fun exploring the Chicago treasures. Let us know what tour you decide to take, so we can verify what the best architectural tours in Chicago are right now.