Chicago Architectural Highlights Bus Tour

3.8 (9)
Chicago, US
3.8 (9)
Chicago, US
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Immerse yourselves in the captivating world of Chicago's architectural wonders with the Chicago Architectural Highlights Bus Tour. Traverse through vibrant neighborhoods like the Loop, Hyde Park, and Kenwood, as well as iconic destinations like Bronzeville, the Gold Coast, and the Magnificent Mile. Marvel at the architectural masterpieces crafted by renowned architects, including a stop at Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Get ready to be inspired as you explore the Illinois Institute of Technology and the Museum Campus. With admission to the Galleries of the Chicago Architecture Center and narration by a professional guide, this tour guarantees an enriching and informative experience. Leave no stone unturned in your quest to discover the evolution of Chicago's architecture. Book your spot now and embark on a journey that will leave you in awe.

About this experience

  • Free Cancellation For a full refund cancel at least before the start of your booking
  • Admission Included
  • 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Suitable for 1-10 Participants
  • Small Group Tour
  • Guided Experience
  • Discover Chicago's famous architects and architecture
  • Travel through unique neighborhoods like the Loop and Hyde Park
  • Visit architectural masterpieces by renowned architects
  • Tour the interior and exterior of Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House
  • View the museum campus including Soldier Field and the Shedd Aquarium
  • Air-conditioned vehicle
  • Admission to the galleries of the chicago architecture center
  • Narration by a professional and certified guide
  • Hotel pick-up and drop-off
  • Food and drink
  • Storage for luggage or strollers
  • Coat check

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More about this experience


Embark on a fascinating journey through the enchanting city of Chicago and discover its awe-inspiring architectural gems. The Chicago Architectural Highlights Bus Tour is a curated experience that provides a deeper insight into the city's rich architectural history and its development over time. From iconic landmarks to hidden gems, this tour offers a comprehensive exploration of the Windy City's architectural wonders.

What to expect?

During this immersive 210-minute tour, you can expect to be captivated by the architectural diversity that Chicago has to offer. Marvel at the magnificent structures designed by world-renowned architects as you travel through various neighborhoods, including the Loop, Hyde Park, Bronzeville, and the Gold Coast. Get an up-close look at architectural masterpieces such as Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Who is this for?

This tour is designed for architecture enthusiasts, history buffs, and anyone seeking a deeper understanding of Chicago's unique charm. Whether you're an aspiring architect or simply someone who appreciates beautiful design, this experience is sure to captivate you. It welcomes visitors of all ages and backgrounds, making it accessible to anyone with a curiosity for Chicago's architectural heritage.

Why book this?

Immerse yourself in the captivating world of Chicago's architecture with this exceptional bus tour. Led by knowledgeable guides, this experience offers a wealth of insights and stories that bring the city's buildings to life. From the soaring skyscrapers of the Loop to the tranquil beauty of Hyde Park and the stunning university campus, each stop on this tour provides a unique perspective on Chicago's architectural evolution. You'll gain a deeper appreciation for the profound impact architecture has had on shaping this iconic city.

Good to know

When planning to embark on this tour, be aware that its approximate duration is 210 minutes, allowing you ample time to immerse yourself in the architectural wonders of Chicago. The meeting point is the Chicago Architecture Center, located at 111 E Wacker Drive. Before or after the tour, take a moment to explore the center, where you can admire a fascinating scale model of Chicago's buildings or browse the award-winning store. Remember to bring your camera and prepare to be awestruck by the stunning architecture at every turn.


Visitors who have experienced the Chicago Architectural Highlights Bus Tour have been left in awe of the city's architectural beauty. They praise the knowledgeable guides who provide fascinating insights during the tour, making it a truly enriching experience. Many reviewers highlight the variety of architectural styles and landmarks covered on the tour, expressing their admiration for Chicago's rich architectural heritage. Overall, the reviews reflect a high level of satisfaction, with visitors leaving inspired and eager to explore more of Chicago's architectural treasures.

How long before the event do I need to book?

  • You can book at any time before the event

Vouchers accepted in the following formats

  • Mobile

Your Itinerary

Chicago Architecture Center

(Pass by)

Tour departs from Chicago Architecture Center, formerly the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Before or after your tour, view a 4,000-building scale model of Chicago or shop in the award-winning store. Tour duration not accounted for in the itinerary is to account for travel time.

The Loop

(Pass by)

Drive through the Loop neighborhood in Downtown Chicago. Discussion will include Millennium Park, State Street, the Chicago Cultural Center and various other historic buildings.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House

Briefly tour the interior and exterior of Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House.

Admission Included

University of Chicago

Briefly tour the University of Chicago campus.

S.R. Crown Hall

Briefly tour the exterior of IIT's Crown Hall, designed by Mies van der Rohe. Depending on the circumstances, a brief interior tour may also be included.

Museum Campus

(Pass by)

View museum campus including Soldier Field, the Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium. Time permitting, there will be a short stop for photo opportunities before returning to the Chicago Architecture Center.



3.8 (9)


Our tour guide was Jan Elson. Both Jan and our driver delivered a memorable experience and to be clear, while tourists will be totally engaged, this is a splendid experience for a citizen. I should know, I live in the Loop! My 23-year-old daughter joined me and I am considerably north of that in age. We both thoroughly enjoyed the sites and Jan's remarkable balance of deep facts and personal injection. Highlights were the Rookery building in the loop and then the Robey House at the University of Chicago campus. However, the entire journey was sprinkled with amazing tidbits both historical and contemporary. Even the sprinkling of a misty and fairly cold day didn't negatively impact us in any way. Who would have guessed there was so much architectural significance to the IIT campus and in particular, the cool L-train encasing tunnel that sits inside the fairly new student union. This noise dampening structure was both cool to see and amazingly effective in its task of hampering the passing train noises. Frank Lloyd and Meis, among many others who built the buildings and character of this city were featured. Totally worth every penny if you get the chance.


This tour is only offered 4 times a month, and the top volunteer docents compete to host this amazing tour. Our guide was Dan, who has been doing these tours as a passionate volunteer for 34 years. He was exceptional, and the tour was absolutely perfect. There is no better way to get to really know the architecture and history of Chicago.

Deanna L

This tour was rich in information and history. Our guide was an excellent historian and educator. Learning about the city buildings, the Rookery and the Roby house were fascinating. Definitely worth the $$.

Ifeoma E

<p>I have done this tour before, about 8 years ago and the main highlight was the internal tour of Frank Lloyd Wrights Robie House. However on this occasion this was the most disappointing part of the tour. Robie House is currently being refurbished so we entered by the secondary entrance at the back of the property up a small flight of steps in to the kitchen area. There was little to see except for the original kitchen table, then we were then led in to a small empty partially decorated bedroom and then on to the living room only part of which we could go in to as it was divided by plastic construction sheets only six original dining chairs and light fitting stood in the corner of the room, the main table had been removed presumably to protect it from the restoration works. The whole experience was less than 10 minutes. Whilst I understand it is a privilege to be inside a Frank Lloyd Wright house this part of the tour was a big let-down, especially as I know what the full experence should be. I believe that The Architectural Foundation should have made it clear when we purchased our tour tickets that the Robie House was being fully refurbished and that the interior tour would be severely limited.</p> <p>The day of the tour coincided with a parade in the Millennium Park and bike race in Washington Park. This seemed to take both the tour guide and driver by surprise but as a visitor to the city I was aware of the parade as it had been discussed on the news channels days before the event. Ultimately this meant that detours had to be taken, but I would have expected that any foreseen events that would affect the duration and route of the tour would have been noted before the tour began. </p> <p>Despite all of the above we still got to visit some impressive and important architectural buildings, the Illinois Tech student center and Mies Van Der Rohe's IIT campus, as well as a tour around the Gold Coast. Also nothing can take away the knowledge and enthusiasm of the tour guide, his pleasant demeanor and architectural insight was greatly appreciated and was one of the highlights of the tour.</p>


We had a wonderful guide, sorry didn't remember her name but the one who is going to get her red jacket after 12 years of voluntary service at the CAF. We made 3 stops: Downtown, stop at the Rookery with wonderful interior. Frank Lloyed Wright's Robie House and at the Ilinois Institute of Technology to admire Mies Van Rohr 's beautiful building for the School of Architecture. The tour ends with a nice drive along the shore of the Museum Campus. Our guide was very knowledgeable with various architectural styles.Did learn a lot. Great introduction to Chicago.


Our bus tour was led by a volunteer docent from the Chicago Architecture Foundation. She was articulate and very knowledgeable about Chicago, its history and architecture. The tour combines visiting several buildings including the Robie House, riding on a coach bus and a little walking (on the flat, very few steps). We went in early April and the weather was quite windy and cold, so our guide tried to find sunny spots out of the wind when we were looking at the facades and roofs of buildings. The tour was fascinating and very informative. We saw so much over a significant area that we would never have seen otherwise. The Robie house is undergoing significant renovation and will be for another 18 months - be forewarned. So the tour of the house is significantly impacted. The guide explained that he would hit the highlights only. Heavy plastic sheeting prohibited viewing principal areas of the house. Unfortunately about half of our 50 person group was made up of college architectural students from Canada, several of whom were constantly chatting. It made it difficult to hear the docent unless you were very close to her. One of the tourists asked 3 of the worse offenders to please move away from the group if they needed to chat. Later, on the bus, many more of the students were talking while the docent was trying to talk with the microphone about the architecture of the area we were driving through. It was so noisy that she had to stop to ask the group to please be considerate of others. Their professor seemed oblivious to the problem. Very unfortunate. I would highly recommend this tour. I cannot wait to return in warmer weather to take the boat tour offered by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. They offer high quality tours that are well worth the money! And be sure to take the time to walk around their gift shop - many lovely and practical items to take home or give as gifts.


Was drawn to this tour for the Frank Lloyd Wright house at UofChicago but got so much more! Was especially pleased with brief but informative downtown bldg tour and fascinating tour of Illinois Inst of Tech, not to mention seeing highlights at Univ of Chi. Well worth the time and cost. Guides are knowledgeable and pleasant; extremely skilled bus driver too.


We knew it was going to be cold, we just didn’t know how cold. We purchased Top Deck tickets to the Holiday Lights Tour of Chicago during the week between Christmas and New Years. The tour, we were told, runs rain or shine, sleet or snow. We were OK with that. Then we saw the bus. The double-decker bus did have a roof and sides over most of the top deck. Unfortunately, the back quarter of seats were open to the light snow that was falling on a cold, cold Friday night. If the upper deck was heated, it would have almost bearable. It was not The tour started at the Architectural Foundation store front on Michigan Ave. As we waited to board we did spend some time admiring the scale model (1” = 50’ scale) of the downtown that is behind the Foundation gift store. That exhibit is open to the public and I would recommend seeing that. The Holiday Lights route was south on Michigan to the Museum Complex, turn around at the Adler and continued back on Lake Shore Drive before turning west to go up Michigan Ave. The tour then went north on Michigan to the Gold Coast, backtracked south down Michigan, turned west on Wacker Drive, up and around City Hall before returning to the Foundation starting point. We signed up for the tour because we had enjoyed the River Architectural Tour in summer months. That tour was entertaining as well as informational. The Holiday Lights Tour did not meet that standard. Other than the scale model of Chicago, our bus driver was the highlight of the night. He was able to maneuver the large bus smoothly and safely in very close traffic and pull over for the many emergency vehicles coming up from behind. Other than that, an unheated top deck in Chicago winter weather is an unwise vehicular choice. The plastic roof and plastic sides of the top deck were so scratched that photography was impractical even if it had been clear and warmer. The tour guide just ran out of steam as the night got colder and the tour dragged on in slow traffic. She didn’t provide a lot of new information, or stories, or legends about the city or the architecture. She started a sequence, lost track and just petered out. I take the tours to learn about the people and stories behind the buildings as much as the total square footage of shopping space. In the end, I don’t think she wanted to be there anymore than the rest of us. There are some times in which it would be better to cancel the tour, rather than have a busload of cold, unhappy guests. This night would have been one of those times.

Linda M

My lady friends and I enjoyed the tour. We boarded the bus right on time and tour guide Nancy was very knowledgeable of all the buildings we stopped at and the city. The tour consisted of 4 stops. The bus was very comfortable with a bsthroom.
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2024-07-20 22:05