Structured guided tours giving you a view into the soul of Chicago 's architecture and history? Check. Free-flowing self-guided tours letting you see the city at your leisure? Check. From the big and sweeping to the small and concise, different tour outlets give you a vast array of options for learning about and exploring the city. Here's what we found for Chicago walking tours.
Escape in Architecture
Looking to find endless options for guided Chicago walking tours in the city? Enter the Chicago Architecture Foundation. The Chicago Architecture Foundation offers a whopping 88 tours in total. You can explore the city by bus, boat, bike on foot or even via a Segway. Want to get out of the city? Sign up for a number of suburban tours, most notably to Oak Park to see some Frank Lloyd Wright homes in person. The Chicago Architecture Foundation also offers happy hour tours which end at a number of different bars or restaurants depending on the day.
Don't let the “architecture” tag scare you, though. The Chicago Architecture Foundation offers more than just information on specific buildings throughout the city said Susan Ross, spokeswomen for the Chicago Architecture Foundation.
“You'll learn about neighborhood developments and how things have changed and the buildings are a significant part of that,” she said. “You can't help but get a history lesson along with the buildings.”
For the Chicago Architecture Foundation's full list of tours and prices check out the tour section of its Web site. You can also reach the Chicago Architecture Foundation by phone at 312.922.3432 x240. Tours are offered seven days a week and the foundation is open 361 days a year.
Freedom and flexibility
Got an iPod? Then “Loop the Loop” is for you. Sponsored by the Chicago Loop Alliance, “Loop the Loop” allows visitors to download audio tours for its Web site and upload them onto an iPod or any other MP3 player free of charge.
There are three different Chicago tours to choose from on the site – the Landmark Loop, the Theatre Loop and the Art Loop. But the ability to mix and match between these three is the best part, explains Bryan Ditchman, program director of “Loop the Loop.”
“It allows you to do it at your own pace,” he said. “You can stop and get lunch and do it as your own will. There's versatility with it on your own iPod. On the Web site you can check out sites you're interested in and mix and match from those. Maybe you're interested in Chicago theatre or some sculpture you wanted to see. You can sculpt it yourself or you can do them as we've set them up. There's a pass for you if you want to take it.”
Ditchman also added that if you don't own an MP3 player, the Chicago Architecture Foundation provides iPod Nanos with the Chicago tours preloaded on them.
Millennium Park also offers a free self-guided audio tour for download on the Internet here. You can also rent their audio tour for $5 at the Chicago Shop in the park (second floor of the Northeast Exelon Pavilion, 201 E. Randolph Street .)