Your friends are in from out of town. They want to hang out together while checking out the best of what Chicago has to offer—the river, the scenery, and, of course, a Chicago architecture tour. Sure, you can go on an official boat tour with the somber masses, but dig this: at the Chicago Electric Boat Company, you can hire your very own personal boat and captain it yourself. You can even hire a tour guide or, if you’re afraid your friends would mutiny against you, a captain.
The adorable, sustainable electric “Duffy” boats hold 10 to 12 people and are about as easy to drive as a golf cart, but your first adventure is finding the entrance to their office. (Hint: Walk to the right of the Smith & Wollensky entrance in front of the Marina Towers, and take the elevator or escalator down to the marina level.) Come early, as you need to watch a video on safety procedures before you shove off. You can also head one floor up to the South Loop Market to gather sandwiches, drinks, and picnic supplies.
And then, the Chicago River is your structurally and æsthetically impressive oyster. Kick back. Throw on some tunes: just plug your phone in or bring some CDs and rock out. If you’ve hired a captain, break out those beers or pop the top on that bottle of bubbly, and get ready to get rolling on the river.
Start your Chicago architecture tour with your docking spot—admire the corncob structure that is the very 1960s Marina City. As you laze your way down the Chicago River, you see Chicago’s flag flying from boats and buildings everywhere: four red stars in between two lines of blue. You’re boating down one of those lines now! Continue east and you’ll pass right by Trump Tower. Worried you won’t be able to spot it? Just look for the 20-foot-tall, 3600-square-foot TRUMP sign on the 16th floor. Just past Trump Tower is another business magnate’s architectural ode to Chicago: the famous 1920s Wrigley Building, its grandiose clock tower another emblem of Chicago architecture.
After you’ve oohed and aahed at all the pretty buildings from below, you and your friends should make your way up to theWit‘s elegantly hip ROOF rooftop bar, where you can chuckle about your day as a boat captain and enjoy the city’s archicture from above.