Shoreline Sightseeing was founded by Jim Martin in 1939. Originally the company ran speedboat tours of Lake Michigan that departed from near Shedd Aquarium; in time, though, they would come to purchase a fleet of larger tour vessels and begin offering a wider assortment of excursions throughout Chicago’s lovely waterways. In 1999 they first began running their acclaimed Architecture River tour from Navy Pier. Today, Shoreline Sightseeing owns and operates a whole fleet of boats and water taxis out of docks at Navy Pier and along the Chicago River near the Magnificent Mile, Michigan Avenue.
Popular Shoreline Sightseeing Tours
Shoreline Sightseeing operates one of the largest fleets of touring vessels of any sightseeing company found in Chicago. With 11 full-size touring ships and 8 water taxis, Shoreline Sightseeing is able to offer a range of tour options. Popular outings available from Shoreline Sightseeing include their well-regarded Architecture tour, their Classic Lake tour, and their special Fireworks tour—which provides you the equivalent of a front-row seat for Navy Pier’s much-loved summertime fireworks series. Shoreline’s water taxis are also a fun and convenient way to get back and forth between some of Chicago’s most significant landmarks.
Architecture River Tour: This 75-minute tour along the Chicago River grants you a special view of many of the city’s most famous buildings and architectural gems. Tickets usually run around $40 for adults, and approximately $20 for children. The Architecture River Tour gives you the option of boarding your boat at either Michigan Avenue or Navy Pier.
Classic Lake Tour: This 40-minute tour departs from Navy Pier, and is a great way to see Chicago’s fabulous skyline from beautiful Lake Michigan. Tickets cost approximately $25 for adults, and $10 for kids.
Things to Know & Shoreline Sightseeing Insider Tips
- Shoreline Sightseeing allows all children under the age of 2 years old to accompany any of their tours for free; they do not need a ticket.
- The price of your Shoreline Sightseeing tour ticket does not include any sort of gratuity for your guide. If you have a pleasant experience on your tour, it is considered polite to tip your guide approximately 20%.
- While reservations are not required for any one particular Shoreline Sightseeing tour, it’s never a bad idea to make them anyway. Many tours—especially during summer—fill up fast, so having your tickets in advance is the best way to guarantee you can take a tour at the specific time that suits your schedule.
- Keep in mind that seating on all Shoreline Sightseeing tours is first-come, first-served—so the early you arrive the more likely you are to find that perfect seat!
- Shoreline Sightseeing’s popular Architecture River Tour is also available in Spanish. Make certain to look for that option when making your tour reservations or buying your tickets.
Is Shoreline Sightseeing the Tour Company for You?
With its long history of providing tours in the Chicago area, Shoreline Sightseeing is a well-regarded tour company. If you’re in the market for a pleasant introduction to Chicago by water, they’re a good bet. Also, the price of their Architecture River tour is significantly cheaper than the one offered by the Chicago Architecture Center; however, while that’s certainly a perk, the trade-off is that Shoreline’s version is notably shorter in length and not as in-depth, content-wise. Shoreline Sightseeing doesn’t have that extensive a list of tours; they do what they do quite well—but if you’re looking for greater variety or a wide selection of choices, you won’t necessarily find those things here.