The best guided tours of Chicago are those offered by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, based in the Archicenter in the Santa Fe Building at 224 S Michigan Ave. Expert guides point out the city’s many architectural treasures and explain their role in Chicago’s history and development. Most popular of all are the superb Architecture River Cruises along the Chicago River that leave from Michigan Avenue and Lower Wacker Drive. The Foundation also runs several walking tours of the Loop, departing from the Archicenter on a complicated schedule of at least two different two-hour tours daily throughout the year ($17 each), and a daily 45-minute, $5 lunchtime tour of downtown landmarks at 12.15pm.
For a free and personalized tour, the Chicago Greeter programme is an excellent choice. Tours leave from the lobby of the Chicago Cultural Center and you can set up a tour beforehand by contacting the website several weeks in advance. Alternately, just show up and take advantage of the “Instagreeter” programme. The tours are led by a trained greeter and cover about 25 different neighbourhoods, or you can pick one of the forty themed tours such as “Gay & Lesbian Chicago” or “Green Chicago”.