This morning we will explore Chicago’s iconic architecture aboard Chicago’s First Lady, the only Chicago River cruise that partners with the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC), Your tour will be given by an experienced, volunteer docent who receive hundreds of hours of training from the Chicago Architecture Center. You will receive detailed explanations of the construction and history of over 50 significant buildings. 1hr30
Bring sunglasses, cap or visor.
A snack bar and full-service bar are on board, as well as restrooms.
All cruises operate rain or shine. All the boats have two levels – the top deck is open-air, and the lower deck is an enclosed, climate-controlled salon. Each salon is surrounded by large windows so you can stay comfortable while still taking in the magnificent views. Tour commentary is broadcast over speakers on both levels.
9:20 a.m. Depart the hotel by ride-share service. 10 min. by car
9:30 a.m. Arrive at the dock 30 minutes prior to the cruise.
ADDRESS: 112 E. Wacker Drive. Meet at the northeast corner of N. Michigan Avenue and E. Wacker Drive.
10:00 a.m. Embark on your 90-minute cruise on the Chicago River on Chicago’s First Lady.
11:30 a.m. Disembark.
11:45-12:30 Visit the Chicago Architecture Center, the city’s newest must-see cultural destination. Interactive exhibits include:
§ Chicago Gallery: Lean how Chicago became the “city of architecture,” explore the stories of five evolving neighborhoods, see Chicago’s residential architecture, discover architects who shaped the city and view new up-and-coming projects.
§ Chicago Model Experience: The star attraction of the Chicago Gallery, it features more than 4,000 buildings and interactive elements that tell amazing stories of the city. A film and light show illuminate the Model to show Chicago’s early growth and rebirth after the Great Chicago Fire.
§ Building Tall: Located on the second floor, the gallery is filled with supersized scale models of famous skyscrapers from Chicago and around the world, including a nearly 40-foot-tall model of Saudia Arabia’s Jeddah Tower, soon to be the tallest building in the world.
12:30 p.m. Depart the CAC on foot to lunch.
12:45 p.m. No-host lunch nearby. Options include:
Lou Malnatti’s Pizza (5 min. walk from CAC)
Considered the oldest family name in Chicago pizza, Lou Malnati got his start in the 1940s working in Chicago's first deep-dish pizzeria. He took his pizza expertise to Lincolnwood, a northern suburb of Chicago, where he and his wife Jean opened the first Lou Malnati's Pizzeria on March 17, 1971. The menu offers deep-dish and thin-crust options.
ADDRESS: 410 N. Michigan Avenue (Wrigley Building)
Land & Lake Kitchen (2 min. walk from CAC)
ADDRESS: Inside the LondonHouse Hotel
Sweetwater Tavern & Grille (4 min. walk from CAC)
Right on Michigan Avenue and two blocks south of the Chicago River, Sweetwater offers full views of the city from an indoor seating and patio area. Its modern American food menu is complemented by a great craft beer list, seasonal cocktails, and an upbeat atmosphere.
Pizzeria Portofino (12 min. walk from CAC)
This sun-drenched pizzeria directly on the Chicago riverfront offers hand-stretched, thin-crust pizzas, coastal wines, an expansive patio and breezy decor that will instantly transport you to the Italian Riviera.
Family style menu to share or order your own. The restaurant allows you to split the tab at each table with up to 6 cards.
ADDRESS: 321 N. Clark
2:30 p.m. FREE TIME. Some suggested activities:
The 1.25-mile-long scenic path includes four distinct districts; The Confluence, The Arcade, The Civic, and the Esplanade.
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Founded in 1967, MCA Chicago champions the new and unexpected in contemporary art and culture. Its major special exhibition, Descending the Staircase. considers novel artistic approaches to representing the human body. Spread across two floors of the museum, the exhibition presents figures of all kinds, from the fragmented, absurd, and surreal to the curated, self-aware, and media savvy. Puppets, masks, and automatons merge bodies with objects, juxtaposing the animate and inanimate, while abstract sculptures evoke the human form through soft and fleshy materials such as nylon, wax, hair, and latex. Elsewhere, artists deploy the living body as a medium, setting it in motion with performance and gesture. Together, these artworks delve into fundamental questions about the human body in the contemporary world, including its relationship to labor and machines, its presentation in advertising and social media, and its role within the everyday domestic sphere. Drawn primarily from the MCA’s permanent collection, this immersive exhibition brings together new works and old favorites.
Also see a smaller exhibition, Chicago Works: Maryam Taghavi, the first solo museum exhibition of artist Maryam Taghavi (b. Tehran, Iran; based in Chicago, IL). Taghavi’s practice insists on positionality: where one stands determines what—and how—one sees. For the past several years, her work with talismans, calligraphy, and the Islamic occult has coalesced into a series of sculptures and paintings that strive to signify the unseen.
ADDRESS: 220 E. Chicago Avenue 9 min. on foot from the hotel
WNDR Museum, which will host the U.S. debut of the yellow Dots Obsession, a three-story immersive infinity installation by the globally iconic Yayoi Kusama, opens at WNDR Chicago on Friday, May 12. Reserve your tickets now to experience it for yourself! Tickets from $32; open from 10 a.m.to 8 p.m. on Fridays.
ADDRESS: 1130 W. Monroe Street 15 min. by car from the hotel
Newberry Library, an august institution that mounts fascinating exhibitions that are free to the public. Open 10a-4p.
ADDRESS: 60 W. Walton Street 6 min. on foot from the hotel
Take a walking tour offered by the Chicago Architecture Center. Afternoon tours typically begin at 1:30 or 2:30 p.m., with easy-to-find meet-up locations, and run 1-1/2 hours.
Evening Visit to a private collection (to be confirmed)
IMAGE: Chicago’s First Lady on the Chicago River | Image courtesy of the Chicago Architecture Center