Chicago
Educational Activities

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Our most recommended Chicago Educational Activities

Chicago: 1.5-Hour Lake and River Architecture Cruise

1. Chicago: 1.5-Hour Lake and River Architecture Cruise

Experience an architecture cruise along the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, a family tradition since 1935. Admire Chicago’s historic and ever-changing skyline with a local expert guide as you cruise through the city. Choose between the open-air decks or the comfort of the climate-controlled interiors during the cruise. Start the cruise at Michigan Avenue (DuSable) bridge and go up the main branch of the Chicago River to Wolf Point before heading back past the Chicago Riverwalk towards Lake Michigan. Learn about historic skyscrapers like the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower, the deco Merchandise Mart, mid-century skyscrapers like the Mies Van der Rohe AMA Building, the circular Marina City Towers, the AON Center, and modernist structures like Aqua, Trump Tower, Nuveen, and the Vista Tower. After passing through the Chicago Lock and cruising past Navy Pier, admire the Chicago skyline from Lake Michigan, one of the largest bodies of fresh water in the world. Here you can also see the twin super-skyscrapers, the famous Willis (formerly Sears) Tower, and the John Hancock Building. See the majesty of Grant Park with its famous Buckingham Fountain, and iconic Chicago venues such as Soldier’s Field, Adler Planetarium, and the Shedd Aquarium. Enjoy several vantage points for memorable pictures throughout, and finally arrive back at Du Sable Bridge on Michigan Avenue.

Chicago: Immersive Van Gogh Exhibition Entry Ticket

2. Chicago: Immersive Van Gogh Exhibition Entry Ticket

Experience art like never before at the Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit. Lose yourself in flawless projections animating Vincent van Gogh’s most iconic works of art. Wander through entrancing, moving images that highlight brushstrokes, detail, and color – truly illuminating the mind of the genius. You will be immersed in Van Gogh’s works – from his sunny landscapes and night scenes to his portraits and still life paintings. The installation includes The Potato Eaters, Starry Night, Sunflowers, The Bedroom, and so much more. Witness the organic landscapes of Van Gogh’s imagination, and journey through his brilliance and madness. Astonishing in scale and breathtakingly imaginative, you will experience Van Gogh’s art in a completely new and unforgettable way. The exhibit is designed and conceived by Massimiliano Siccardi, with the soundtrack by Luca Longobardi, both of whom pioneered the original immersive digital art experiences in France. The experience is located in the historic Germania Club Building in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago. Constructed in 1888, this Victoria-era building has a dramatic ballroom with 35-foot ceilings, large mezzanines, and detailed ornamentation.

Chicago: History Museum Admission Ticket

3. Chicago: History Museum Admission Ticket

Explore the history of Chicago and America through a collection of permanent and temporary exhibits drawn from approximately 22 million holdings. "Chicago: Crossroads of America" explores Chicago’s development and its influence on American history. Explore a treasure trove of historical artifacts, including a chunk of the original Fort Dearborn, a restored original L train car, a re-created jazz club, and the actual first locomotive to operate in Chicago. Use all five senses to discover Chicago’s history with the “Sensing Chicago” exhibit, riding a high-wheel bike, hearing the Great Chicago fire, and even enjoying a famous Chicago-style hot dog. Check out temporary exhibitions on everything from Chicago art to the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Chicagoans, to the city's fashion history. Feel the intensity of the Great Chicago Fire and splendor of the World’s Columbian Exposition, explore the sights of bustling Maxwell Street in the 1950s and peer down from an I-beam at the top of the Sears Tower in the 1970s.

Chicago: City Minibus Tour with Optional Architecture Cruise

4. Chicago: City Minibus Tour with Optional Architecture Cruise

Start with pickup from your downtown Chicago hotel. Board your climate-controlled minibus and embark on your guided sightseeing tour. Begin in the heart of downtown Chicago, at The Loop. Here you'll see incredible architecture, including the world's first skyscrapers. You'll even go inside one that features a beautiful lobby designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The stop also includes views of The Chicago Board of Trade and the Willis (Sears) Tower. After The Loop, head through Grant Park, which is known as the city's front yard. The centerpiece of the park is the Buckingham Fountain. Museum Campus is up next, with three museums, Soldier Field, and the most spectacular skyline views in the city. After a ten minute photo stop, travel around Millennium Park, featuring The Bean, before heading up north along Wacker Drive, which parallels the Chicago River. Arrive in the fancy Gold Coast nightlife area and residential neighborhood - one particularly interesting sight here is the original Playboy Mansion. Then you'll take a trip through part of Lincoln Park, and end the tour by zipping along Lake Shore Drive, past beaches, and old mansions, before being dropped off at your hotel. For those wanting the ultimate Chicago experience, add on the option of the world-famous architecture cruise of Chicago. After your minibus tour and a short break, climb aboard a state-of-the-art cruise vessel for a 75-minute cruise of all three branches of the Chicago River. Marvel at the architecture that has made the city so legendary. Gain insights into the buildings and engineering of a city that gave birth to the skyscraper and is the spiritual home of modern American architecture. An expert guide will lead you down the Chicago River to uncover hidden gems, as well the city’s most renowned landmarks, such as the John Hancock building and more.  

Chicago: Immersive Frida Kahlo Exhibition Entry Ticket

5. Chicago: Immersive Frida Kahlo Exhibition Entry Ticket

Explore the world through the eyes of the legendary Frida Kahlo – a brilliant, uncompromising painter who created some of history's most iconic artwork. Using state-of-the-art technology, the 360-degree experience invites you immerse yourself inside her colorful and vibrant world as never before. Stroll through the Lighthouse Immersive gallery and see the Mexico-born artist’s work come to life on a grand scale. The mesmerizing, large-scale projections, accompanied by a ravishing musical score, will sweep you up as you encounter Frida as never before. Discover the people, events, and obstacles that made her the extraordinary woman she was. Kahlo’s art has been described as magic realism – blending realistic depictions of her life with fantastical elements to reflect her inner thoughts and struggles. Brave and brutally honest, Kahlo transferred her fears and pain onto canvas in a way that resonates even more powerfully with us today. Kahlo used art to empower herself and, in so doing, has become one of the most beloved and popular artists of all time.

Chicago: Must See Chicago 90 minute Walking Tour

6. 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: Private Architecture Tour - 3 or 6 Hours

7. Chicago: Private Architecture Tour - 3 or 6 Hours

Start with pickup from your hotel and meet your local tour guide, an expert on the architecture of Chicago. Travel through the city in luxury private transportation to discover its rich architectural history. See famous buildings such as the Sears Tower, The John Hancock Building, and the Wrigley Building Discover Gothic gems along the Magnificent Mile, historic brownstones, and the Frank Lloyd Wright homes of Oak Park. Enjoy a unique added value opportunity to view not only the outside but the amazing hidden interior of many of the buildings on the tour. At your discretion, make numerous stops along the tour to go to the top of the sky decks of famous skyscrapers. Walk along the Chicago River and enter the inside of buildings designed by many famous architects. This tour has several different options. Enjoy the sites of the downtown Chicago area with its many skyscrapers, amazing interiors and great photo opportunities. You may also choose the Oak Park Frank Lloyd Wright Homes and Studio option in lieu of the downtown tour where you will have the opportunity to view the interior of his very first home and studio along with over two dozen of his original structures lining Forest Street in Oak Park anchored by Unity Temple, considered to be the world's first building of the modern architectural style. Each of the above separate options are 3 hours long. If you are to choose both options for a full 6-hour touring experience, enjoy a lunch stop at one of Chicago's many famous hot dog stands or deep-dish pizza joints.

The Chicago Theatre Marquee Tour

8. The Chicago Theatre Marquee Tour

Explore the grandeur of The Chicago Theatre, which opened in 1921, on a 1-hour guided tour. Your guide will accompany you through the elegant lobby, sweeping staircase and the majestic auditorium, which is complete with murals above the stage and on the ceiling. During your visit, you will get access to various sections of the seven-story, 3,600-seat auditorium and an intimate view of the 29-rank Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ, the first musical instrument having attained a city landmark status.  Next, view artist signatures on the dressing room walls, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Dolly Parton and many more. You will finish your tour on a high and feeling like a star as you get the chance to stand on the famous Chicago Theatre stage. Once called “the Wonder Theatre of the World”, the Chicago Theatre hosts over 175 events a year, bringing together the world’s brightest stars and greatest productions.

Chicago's Modern Skyscrapers Guided Walking Tour

9. 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.

Chicago: Riverwalk Guided Walking Tour

10. Chicago: Riverwalk Guided Walking Tour

Tag along on this essential Chicago experience: a guided walking tour of the Chicago Riverwalk. Spend your day exploring art, architecture, and all the locals’ favorite spaces. Visit the Meatpacking District, Chelsea Market, DuSable Bridge, and more. Birthed around the banks of the (now) Riverwalk, Chicago is a city teeming with tales. With the help of your local guide, discover the stories behind the sites you visit and see. Visit all four districts of the Riverwalk, each offering its own flavor of Chicago. Pass iconic sites including the Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower, DuSable Bridge, and the Marina Towers. As an added perk, become a Chicago insider with behind-the-scenes access at the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum. Stop at Heald Square and see the city’s many monuments and memorials. Along the tour, spot the touching Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Continue strolling down the Riverwalk and hear stories at the site of Old Fort Dearborn and the disaster that was the SS Eastland. Then, pass by the Jeweler's Building and find out if Al Capone really had a super-secret speakeasy at the very top. Nearing the end of the tour, take in a Picasso gifted to the city by the artist himself, see the first church at the Chicago Temple, and end under the prisms of light filtering in the Tiffany Dome at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Frequently asked questions about Chicago Educational Activities

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Other Sightseeing Options in Chicago

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What people are saying about Chicago

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 211 reviews

Great tour guide - informative with lots of fun facts and stories about Chicago (not just it's architecture).

Great way to learn the history and some information about the amazing architecture of this beautiful city!

Very informative and relaxing to sit and see all of these incredible buildings.

terrific tour narrator and guide! she really knows Chicago architecture!

We recommend. Had a great guide with Bobby. Super easy to understand.