TOUR & TICKETING FAQ
CLOSED FOR THE WINTER: Due to harsh winters that often freeze the Chicago River, our River Cruise is currently out of season until Spring 2015.
How long is the tour?
The architecture river cruise is 90 minutes long.
Who gives the tours?
All tours are given by Chicago Architecture Foundation-certified volunteer docents. All docents receive hundreds of hours of training about Chicago architecture and history. They give tours because they love it.
What buildings do we see on the Architecture River Cruise?
The tour includes Chicago's most famous historic and modern landmarks, including Willis Tower, Navy Pier, Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower, Merchandise Mart, Lyric Opera, 333 W. Wacker, Marina City and many, many more. Over 50 buildings are discussed on the tour.
Where can I purchase tickets for the river cruise?
Based on availability, you can purchase tickets for the River Cruise in person either in advance or on the day of the tour at the Chicago Architecture Foundation Box Office, 224 South Michigan (Railway Exchange building) or at Chicago's First Lady boat dock, southeast corner of the Michigan Avenue Bridge and Wacker Drive (112 E. Wacker Dr.). Look for our blue awning marking the stairway entrance.
Advanced ticket purchase is recommended - tours frequently sell out, especially on weekends and holidays. Advanced purchases can be made in person, online or via phone through Ticketmaster. Click here for more information.
Where do I pick up Will Call tickets?
Will Call tickets for the Architecture River Cruise can be picked-up from the Chicago's First Lady Boat Will Call window on the day of the tour (southeast corner of Michigan Avenue at Wacker Drive; look for the blue awning marking the stairway entrance at 112 E. Wacker Dr.). We recommend arriving at least 20-30 minutes prior to the dparture of the cruise.
Are refunds or exchanges available for online ticket purchases?
No, there are no refunds or exchanges for ticket purchases. Please double-check your dates and times before finalizing your order.
What if it rains?
All tours depart rain or shine. There is a covered, climate-controlled portion of the boat available for tour-takers if it rains or is extremely hot. Tour tickets are non-exchangeable, non-refundable.
Do CAF members get a discount on the river cruise?
Yes. Please call us at 312-922-8687 to reserve using your annual 2-for-1 discount. Membership River Cruise benefits must be redeemed at least 24 hours before boat departure by calling 312-922-8687 or visiting the CAF Shop & Tour Center. Benefits cannot be redeemed at the boat dock.
Are senior or children's prices available for the River Cruise?
All passengers on the River Cruise must purchase a ticket regardless of age. Discounts are available for infants ages 3 and younger. There are not special rates for senior citizens.
Where do we meet for the river cruise?
Southeast corner of Michigan Avenue bridge at Wacker Drive. Look for the blue awning marking the staircase that leads down to the river and the dock ticket window. Please arrive 30 minutes in advance of your tour to allow time to get your tickets and board the boat. GET DIRECTIONS
Is there parking available?
Discounted parking is available at 111 E. Upper Wacker Drive (just east of Michigan Avenue). Be sure to bring your parking ticket to the Chicago's First Lady dock ticket window for validation. Discount applies to stays in the garage under 4 hours only. Parking is based on availability- please arrive early! Parking garage may not be able to accommodate large vans or trucks so please plan accordingly.
Is the River Cruise wheelchair accessible?
The River Cruise is not ADA accessible, but accommodations can be made for people who use wheelchairs or have mobility disabilities. To avoid the stairs down to the dock from Wacker Drive, there is a dock-level drop-off-only area below Lower Wacker Drive, adjacent to the Chicago River. This area is on the same level as our dock, at the Riverside Gardens Promenade. Although there is a wheelchair accessible drop-off, there is no dedicated public parking. The closest parking facility is located up one level at the Hyatt Regency on Lower Wacker Drive and Lower Stetson St. Taxicabs do not regularly travel near the drop off area. If you arrive by taxicab, we recommend that you arrange for the same driver to pick you up after your cruise.
From Illinois Street or Grand Avenue go southbound on Lower Michigan Avenue, travel across the Lower Michigan Avenue Bridge. Go straight through the Lower Wacker Drive traffic light and when you reach the next traffic light, which is also a dead-end, turn left (east). You will then come to a 4-way Stop sign. At that Stop sign, turn left (north) and go straight until you come into view of the River and an opening in a black wrought iron fence. Your vehicle may pull up toward the bicycle path to unload your passengers.
To access the dock by foot without using the stairs, use the ramp accessible from the upper level of Wacker Drive just east of Wabash Ave. The ramp will lead you down to the river level, and then pass east under the Michigan Avenue bridge to reach the Chicago's First Lady dock and ticket window.
We always offer early boarding for our passengers with limited mobility. Please identify yourself to any uniformed employee upon arrival, and let us know how we can assist. Our watertight threshold configuration and limited turning areas make us unable to accommodate motorized scooters. We offer a standard wheelchair for use on a complimentary basis. Although not necessary, we recommend a caregiver accompany any guest with mobility restrictions to facilitate movement during the cruise, for the boat may rock unexpectedly, or to assist in the unlikely case of an emergency.
Are there snacks and beverages available on the boat?
There is a full-service bar on board all River Cruise vessels where beverages and snacks can be purchased. Guests are allowed to bring their own individually wrapped food on board, band beverages can be purchased on board the boat.
Can luggage and strollers be checked at the dock?
No. There will be no luggage or strollers allowed on board any river cruise vessel due to heightened security requirements.
WALKING, BUS/TROLLEY, BIKE, EL, AND SEGWAY TOUR
Who gives the tours?
All tours are given by Chicago Architecture Foundation-certified volunteer docents. All docents receive hundreds of hours of training about Chicago architecture and history.
Where do your tours meet?
Most regularly-scheduled tours depart from the CAF Shop & Tour Center, 224 S. Michigan Avenue. All tours sold online specifiy the meeting place, but your ticket (regular or print-at-home) will also specify the departure spot.
Where do I pick up Will Call tickets?
Will Call tickets can be picked-up from the CAF Shop & Tour Center, 224 S. Michigan Ave. (Railway Exchange Building) on the day of the tour. We recommend arriving at least 10-15 minutes prior to te departure time.
Do you offer military discounts?
Chicago Architecture Foundation is pleased to offer active members of the military, with a valid military ID, one free walking tour ticket. This offer is good for regular downtown walking and neighborhood tours and does not extend to family or friends. For more information on those tours call 312-922-TOUR.
Is there parking availabe?
The closest public parking is the Grant Park South garage (enter from Michigan Avenue). The Millennium Park (enter from Columbus Drive) and Grant Park North (enter from Michigan Avenue) garages are also nearby. There is a self-park garage operated by Standard Parking on the southwest corner of Adams and Wabash Streets. (enter from southbound Wabash or westbound Adams) one block west of CAF.
Can luggage and strollers be checked at the CAF Shop & Tour Center?
Unfortunately there is not secure storage for luggage or strollers.
Can CAF's tour buses accommodate wheelchairs?
A customer requiring an accommodation for a tour should contact the CAF call center, (312)922-TOUR, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To ensure an accommodation, a request should be made at least 48 hours in advance of the tour's scheduled departure.
What if it rains?
All Chicago Architecture Foundations tours depart rain or shine. Tour tickets are non-exchangeable, non-refundable.
Are pets allowed on tours?
CAF welcomes service animals only on all tours.
Where does my program take place?
The website will state the location for each public program. If you have any questions, please call 312-922-8687.
Where do I pick up my tickets?
Most public programs do not require a ticket. Simply check-in with the CAF staff person at the event.
Do you offer wait lists for sold-out events?
Please call 312-922-8687 to inquire about available space for a waiting list.
Are programs refundable if I cannot attend after purchase?
Please note that all public programs are non-refundable.
Are discounts available for public programs?
Yes, members of CAF receive member prices for most public programs. Click here to become a member and obtain discounted rates for public programs.
If I buy a membership now, can I get my ticket discounts immediately?
Yes! Include a membership in your cart with your tickets, and you will automatically see the discounts reflected. Both must be purchased in the same transaction for the discounts to take effect.
Do members have to log in to receive their member discounts?
Yes. You must log in to your account to receive your member benefits. If it is your first time purchasing tickets on this website, a login may have already been created for you using the email address we have on file. Please try to log in with the email to which you receive CAF communications and use the "forgot password" link on the login screen to re-set your password. If you still have trouble logging in, please contact us at 312-922-8687 or email@example.com to receive your login information.
I am a member and have successfully logged in, but I am not getting any member discounts.
If you created a new account on your own, this new account likely will not automatically recognize your membership benefits. Please contact us at 312-922-8687 or firstname.lastname@example.org so we can verify that your login is tied to your correct member account.
I have successfully logged in as a member and am getting a discount, but it is not accurate. (ie: I have a household membership but am only getting one discounted ticket.)
Make sure you are purchasing the ticket types that align with your membership. For example, if you have a senior membership, you will only receive a discount on a senior ticket, not an adult ticket.
How many discounted tickets do I get with my membership?
- If you have an Individual Membership, you get a member discount on 1 adult ticket per tour, and 1 adult ticket per program.
- If you have a Household Membership, you get a member discount on 2 adult and 3 child tickets per tour, and 2 adult tickets per program.
For ticket details on all other membership levels, please contact email@example.com.
Can I renew my membership on tickets.architecture.org?
Yes. Log in and you will be taken to your "account page," click the "my memberships" tab below the instructions, then click on the "Renew Membership" link. Please Note: Some unique membership levels are not available for renewing online.
Do I need to create an account to buy tickets?
Yes. We need your full contact information in case we need to contact you prior to your tour or program.
I already created a user account on the main CAF website (www.architecture.org). Do I still need to create an account on the ticketing website (tickets.architecture.org)?
Yes. The ticketing website requires a different account. We recommend setting up your login information to be the same for both sites so that it is easy to remember. NOTE: Your ticketing website login must be your e-mail address.
How do I change my e-mail address or password once I've logged in to the ticketing website?
Click on the "login/logout" link in the top bar and you will be taken to your "account page." Follow the directions on the page to change your information.
I am trying to create a new account, but the site is telling me that a user account with the same login name already exists.
You likely already have an account set up on this site. If you are a CAF member, we may have already created an account for you that is tied to your member benefits. Try to log in again using your primary e-mail address and use the “forgot password” link to re-set your password. If you continue to have problems, please contact us at 312-922-8687 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am a member and I created a new account to purchase tickets, but I'm not getting my member discount when I check out.
If you are a CAF member, the new account you created on your own will not recognize your member benefits. Try to log in again using the e-mail address to which you receive CAF e-mail communications. If you do not know your password, use the “forgot password” link to re-set your password. If you are still having trouble seeing your member discounts reflected on the site, call us at 312-922-8687 or e-mail us at email@example.com.