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Four New Tours For Exploring Chicago This Summer

By Jessica Mlinaric in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 13, 2015 7:40PM

One of the most satisfying feelings for a Chicagoan is watching the city blossom with activity as we shed the arctic shell shock and embrace our warm weather customs.

For many of us, this includes cruising the river and lake on an architectural boat tour, whether we're showing visitors around or playing tourist on our own. Yet this standard tour of the summer is only one of dozens offering new perspectives on Chicago’s legendary architecture. This season the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) adds four new tours for soaking in the city’s unique history, vantages and hopefully some sun.

Food & Architecture: 1893 Tour
If you embark on a walking tour of the Loop, try one that includes food along the way. This “see and taste tour” is themed around the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. “The focus is on downtown to show what a visitor to the fair would have seen when they came downtown after a day at the fair,” a CAF representative told Chicagoist. “What would you see? Where would you sleep? What kind of shopping and foods were there? How would you get around town?”

Chicagoist was recently invited on this tour to experience the sights and tastes of the fair firsthand. While the original fair attracted 27 million visitors, our group of twelve included guests from Houston, Amsterdam, Boston and Delhi as well as Chicagoans. The fast-paced walkabout imparted plenty of Chicago history as the volunteer docent guided us through the hotels, shopping palaces and attractions that left fairgoers in awe of the burgeoning city.

Visitors will enjoy a decadent chocolate brownie under the magnificent frescos of the Palmer House Hilton, the very building where the dessert was born as a treat for Bertha Palmer’s friends. Munch on cracker jacks, introduced at the fair, on Michigan Avenue as you learn that an unassuming luxury condo building once hosted celebrities like Sarah Bernhardt as the Hotel Richelieu. A landmark era of Chicago’s history comes alive as you discover it still exists in plain sight.

Offered Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; May 5 through Sept. 29, 2015; Tickets: $30 Adults, $22 Members; Duration: 1.5 hours

Maggie Daley Park Tour
Chicago’s newest park is ideal for adults reliving their youth as well as families. The playscape offers steep slides, one-of-a-kind structures, and climbing webs and walls. This tour explains how engineers drastically altered the landscape to produce rolling hills and panoramic views of Chicago’s skyline in the heart of downtown. Discuss Maggie Daley Park’s place in the long history of urban parks and open space.

Offered Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays; May 1 through Sept. 29, 2015; Tickets: $20 Adults, Free for Members; Duration: 1.5 hours

Explore Downtown: Open Top Bus Tour
See the city from an elevated perspective with this tour through Chicago’s fast-paced downtown. Investigate the nuances of the Loop’s intricate architectural history while you learn the colorful stories of the individuals who influenced its development.

Offered Mondays and Fridays; May 1 through Sept. 28, 2015; Tickets: $30 Adults, $22 Members; Duration: 1.5 hours

Explore Historic Neighborhoods: Open Top Bus Tour
Visit some of Chicago’s most historic and diverse neighborhoods on this tour, including Pilsen, Little Italy, Bronzeville, Greektown and Chinatown. Admire elegant structures and magnificent public artworks from a unique vantage while you learn how neighborhood architecture has been influenced by Chicago’s ethnic history.

Offered Mondays and Fridays; April 6 through Sept. 28, 2015; Tickets: $30 Adults, $22 Members; Duration: 2 hours

Tickets for CAF tours can be purchased online and by phone at 312.922.8087. Walk-up tickets are also available the CAF Shop & Tour Center (224 S. Michigan Ave.). All tours listed meet at the CAF Shop & Tour Center.