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Chicago’s First Lady Cruises
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  • Service available Patio


112 E. Wacker Dr. on Chicago’s Riverwalk, Chicago IL 60601

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Welcome to the Official Chicago Architecture Foundation Center River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady – recognized two years in a row as one of the best boat tours in North
America (USA Today Readers’ Choice 2022 Awards).

Lauded as a “must-do” activity by locals and tourists alike, the 90-minute CAC River Cruise aboard
Chicago’s First Lady glides down all three branches of the Chicago River, providing guests with an
unobstructed, open-air, 360-degree view of the city’s wide variety of architectural styles, including art deco, neoclassicism, mid-century modernism and postmodernism. CAC-certified volunteer docents share the fascinating stories of more than 50 buildings and 13 bascule bridges along the river, and the backstories of some of the iconic figures responsible for them.

To further enhance accessibility for guests, the CAC River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady will
provide complimentary language translation services for the first time—making it the only Chicago
architecture River Cruise to offer this service. Guests will have the opportunity to listen to a pre-recorded tour narration on their smartphone in four different languages, including Spanish, French, Japanese and Korean. The translation service is accessible by downloading a free app that connects directly to a special Wi-Fi network onboard. The narration is triggered based on the location of the vessel at that time in the tour’s route, which will help ensure those who use the technology have the same experience as others listening to live narration.

Since 1993, more than 100 CAC-certified volunteer veteran docents have lent their expertise and
unique perspectives to guests on the popular CAC River Cruise. They undergo nearly 100 hours to
become certified, plus an additional 12 weeks of study about Chicago’s architecture. Docents hail
from across the city with a variety of personal and professional backgrounds. Some notable docents have included Geoffrey Baer and Dr. Allison Arwady.

A portion of proceeds from each CAC River Cruise ticket supports the CAC’s nonprofit educational
mission. In pursuit of the CAC’s mission to inspire people to discover why design matters, the CAC
produces programs for children, students, teens and families. Teen Saturday Studio and Girls Build!
programs proactively advance diversity, inclusion and representation in STEM fields and ACED
careers, while field trips, award-winning publications and online tools expand the CAC’s reach into
communities across and beyond Chicagoland.

As a fourth-generation family-owned and operated company, Chicago’s First Lady Cruises celebrates other local businesses by offering guests the opportunity to purchase locally-based food and drinks aboard its tours, from Revolution Brewing, Silverland Bakery and Open Water.

Boarding and Ticket Information

The CAC River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady departs from the Michigan Avenue Bridge at
Wacker Drive on Chicago’s Riverwalk just three blocks north of Millennium Park. Daily tours of the
CAC River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady begin Friday, March 31.

Tickets start at $53.85 and can be purchased online or in-person at the ticket booth located on the
Riverwalk. Passengers can take advantage of visiting the award-winning Chicago Architecture Center for an additional $5 and have seven days to visit the Center after their cruise date.

Priority boarding tickets are also available and include an exclusive early boarding period, the option to skip the queue during general boarding, and CAC admission.

For additional information on the 2023 season, tickets, boarding location, parking and other details, please visit

Health and Safety

Single Use Menus

CDC Recommended Cleaning Procedures

Hand Wash/Sanitizer Stations

Mobile Payments Accepted

Social Distancing Guidelines Enforced

No Contact Services

Wheelchair Accessible


Student Tours

Technical Tours

Incentive Programs

Step On Guides

Group Charter/Sightseeing

Complimentary PolicyPlease inquire

Motorcoach ParkingOn-site

Group Policy

Average Visit/Tour Lengthvaries

Group Capacity250

Minimum Group Number2

Maximum Group Number250

Group Discounts Available

Minimum Size for Group Admission Rate20

Miles from O'Hare Airport17.0

Miles from Midway Airport12.0

Miles from Navy Pier

Miles from McCormick Place2.0



American Express

Late Night





Student Group Friendly

Special Interest Tours Offered

Reservations Accepted


Concierge Service

ADA Compliant

Food On-siteOTHER

Airport(s) ServedORD & MDW

Open Seasonally


Buy-out Max Capacity250

Preferred Catering Providers

Number of Meeting Rooms5

Largest Room, Theater Capacity250

Largest Room, Reception Capacity (Standing)250

Largest Room, Classroom Capacity250

Largest Room, Banquet Capacity (Seated)125

Largest Room, Max Capacity250

On-Site Catering

On-site Audio/Visual Equipment

In-house/Exclusive Caterer(s)

Complete Buy-out Available

Max Capacity, Theater Style250

Max Capacity, Reception Style (Standing)250

Max Capacity, Classroom Style125

Max Capacity, Banquet Style (Seated)125

Max Venue Capacity850

Private Meeting Space Available

Max Restaurant Capacity250

Private Dining Available

Group Menu

Group Breakfast Available


Box Lunches Available

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