PPM's Top 5 Chicago Tours

When you live in such a spectacular city like Chicago, there is just so much to see and so much to do. Yet sometimes we find ourselves lost in the mix of things. Other times we see a landmark or statue that we wish we knew more about, or even how it just got there. Curiosity is just one trait of your average Chicagoan, and curious we are. So, how do we satisfy our Chicago curiosity, you might ask? Well, simple. You take a tour of said curiosity. If it's architecture you’re interested in, we got a tour for that. Or maybe it’s the history of a specific park you pass every day you yearn for; well, we got a tour for that to. Here in Chicago we pride ourselves on our history and architecture and provide countless tours to help quench your Chicago curiosity.

Now, the tours we are going to look at today do require a small fee and some require you to book online as well, but trust us, it will be worth it. However, if a free tour is more to your liking, make sure to take a look at our blog on Free Walking Tours in Chicago! We also suggest you bring a bottle of water, sunscreen, keep some cash on hand, and bring an emergency umbrella if they day looks a bit cloudy. You never know what kind of situation you may run into, so it’s best to plan ahead. So, let’s take a look at PPM’s top 5 tours you'd hate to miss this summer.

Chicago Architecture Foundation Walking and Bus Tours

The Chicago Architecture Foundation provides many different architectural walking and bus tours throughout the Chicago area, including Must-See Chicago, Evolution of the Skyscraper, Skyline Vistas by Trolley, Modern Skyscrapers, Frank Lloyd Wright, and an elevated Architecture tour aboard the “L” trains.  All tours are led by highly trained and knowledgeable docents. Various dates, times, places, and ticket prices | architecture.org

Chicago Instagreeter

Learn about art, architecture, history, and more, on a guided walk of the Loop. With a local InstaGreeter volunteer, head out for an hour-long downtown excursion that's fun, informal, and informative. Groups are limited to six people, and both visitors and locals are welcome. Advance registration is not required. Chicago Cultural Center’s Visitor Information Center, 77 E. Randolph St. | Fri. – Sat 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., Sun 11 a.m. Departs every 30 minutes | chicagogreeter.com/instagreeter

Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady Cruises

(April 4 – November 22) Cruise in comfort aboard Chicago’s First Lady Cruises during this critically acclaimed 90-minute panoramic showcase of Chicago’s world-famous architecture. The Chicago Architecture Foundation features certified docents who provide entertaining, passionate, and fact-filled commentary for more than 50 significant sites and the architects who created them. Chicago’s Riverwalk, Michigan Ave. & Wacker Dr. | Times vary. Check cruisechicago.com for details | $42- $45 | architecture.org/rivercruise

Family Fun aboard Mercury, Chicago’s Skyline Cruise Line

(May 2 – October 12) Mercury, Chicago’s Skyline Cruiseline, offers 90 minutes of lake and river cruising with lively commentary that’s fun for the whole family. Urban Adventure Cruise by day, Chicago by Night in the evening, weekly summer 3D Fireworks cruises, and Chicago’s only Canine Cruise, now summer Saturdays and Sundays. Chicago’s Riverwalk, Michigan Ave. & Wacker Dr. | Times vary |$31 - $32 adults, $11 - $12 kids under 12, free kids under 3 | mercurycruises.com

Chicago Architecture foundation Twilight River Cruise

(Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays & Sundays, May 29 – October 12) This year, the CAF Twilight River Cruise expands to five departures and offers full bar service with cocktails and local craft beers. Experience spectacular nighttime city views in a different light aboard Chicago’s First Lady Cruises by joining your coworkers and friends for a 90–minute immersion into Chicago’s architecture. Chicago’s Riverwalk, Michigan Ave. & Waker Dr. | 7:30 p.m.| $45 | architecture.org/riverruise

Chicago Fourth Of July 2015

The Fourth of July celebrations are just around the corner, and that means fireworks! Who doesn’t love a great firework show to celebrate our country’s independence? We knew that ever since the city stopped shooting them off in Grant Park after the Taste, it was going to be an event we would all truly miss, but that doesn’t mean you are out of luck. In fact, there are plenty of Fourth of July celebrations and fireworks you can head out to and enjoy this 2015.

Yet, you might ask yourself, where do I go to see such an amazing spectacular light show of fire? Well, we've got you covered. It doesn’t matter if you live in Lakeview at 3130 N. Lakeshore Dr., in Lincoln Park at 1940 N. Lincoln, in the Gold Coast at 1000 N. LaSalle, or in River North up in 750 N. Rush, there’s a spot for you. So enough babbling about these great places, let’s take a look at where and what you can do this coming Independence Day!

Navy Pier

This is the front runner in downtown Chicago fireworks since the end of Grant Park’s show. This is the main one to hit if that’s what you’re looking for this year. However, the crowds pile up tremendously at the Pier, even during the day. So we recommend getting there early, or for our Gold Coast residents, head over to Oak Street Beach for a more relaxing view.

Board an Evening Cruise

Don’t feel like staying on land this year? Then we recommend boarding the Odyssey Cruise line, Shoreline Sightseeing Company, Mystic Blue, or the Spirit of Chicago. Don’t wait too long, though, these babies book up fast!

Fireworks Party

Get the perfect view of the Fourth of July fireworks from the rooftop of Navy Pier at Freedom Fest. This includes music, BBQ, and a cash bar. Only $17 to head in!

Evanston Fireworks

If you hit the Purple Line, you can easily head up to Clark Street Beach for the fireworks in Evanston. It's a bit of a hike, but it will get you away from the crowds and congestion that is Navy Pier!


That’s right, people. This will be the first year Wrigley Field sets off a 4th of July fireworks show. You can expect to see the fireworks after 6:15 p.m. this Saturday for the Cubs vs. Marlins post-game. Since this will be the first time, we are guessing you should be able to see them anywhere near or around the stadium itself, so if you plan on going out in Wrigleyville Saturday, make sure you step outside your favorite bar and look up!

There are plenty of places you can still go and enjoy some fireworks, food, and music to celebrate the Fourth this year. We hope to see some of you out in the city this coming Saturday and have happy and safe Fourth!