Chicago Detours History and Background

We are a group of educators, historians, artists, and storytellers. Founder Amanda Scotese launched Chicago Detours in July 2010 after spending close to a decade in Italy as a Tour Guide and Guidebook Researcher with Rick Steves’ Europe. She decided to bring her travel expertise back home with tour experiences that are fun, educational, and truly make us feel connected with our grand city. Our professional Chicago tour guides are highly trained and educated, and we know how to spark discussions and create a lively group dynamic on our public and private group tours of Chicago.

Today we are a community of Chicagoans passionate about sharing the architecture, history, and culture of Chicago through the Chicago Detours blog and our guided walking and bus tours. Our office is inside the historic Monadnock Building in downtown Chicago.

Amanda Scotese

Founder, Executive Director, and Tour Guide

I’m an observer and interpreter of the city. I’m inspired by things like imagining what goes on inside unmarked buildings or where passersby are headed. I studied Chicago history, architectural history, and anything Chicago-related through my M.A. in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. My love for stories was enriched by my B.A. in Literature from the University of Michigan. I’ve written travel articles for print and online publications, including Rick Steves’ Italy best-selling travel guides, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and The Chicago Food Encyclopedia. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of West Avondale.

“You can TELL Amanda is hyper-passionate about doing the research and getting the story that nobody’s heard before.” -Shelby F, Yelp

John Engman

Business Manager

Every city has a story to tell but Chicago has so many tales, with always something new to learn. I’m armed with a BA in English from UC-Berkeley, an MBA from Northwestern, a professional career in the arts and an abiding interest in history. I’ve worked with top Chicago institutions like the Field Museum, Chicago Architecture Foundation and Jane Addams Hull House. I’m proud to support the best tour guides in Chicago on their mission to expand your curiosity about our exciting city. I live a mere four blocks from Chicago in Evanston.


Lead Tour Guide

I’m a very Midwestern girl – born and raised in Chicago. I love to explore Chicago by bike; cycling breaks the neighborhood barriers and truly makes all of Chicago feel like home. History and languages are my passion, and I’m a graduate of UIC and have completed graduate coursework in France. When I am either a world traveler or a Chicago tour guide, I prefer to keep the strategy and street smarts of a local without losing the shiny new charm of being a tourist. I live in Humboldt Park.

“Elizabeth’s energy and knowledge were superb. She has the heart of a teacher.” -Jess J., Yelp


Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

As a fourth generation Chicagoan, I have been living and loving Chicago by bike, on foot, public transit or automobile. I am a graduate of UIC where through the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, began my eagerness to understand the nature, history and impacts of urban planning and development. It is incredibly rewarding to give back to this wonderful city by helping out in the office of Chicago Detours. I live in the incredibly diverse neighborhood of Albany Park.

“Sonny was extremely knowledgeable about all things Chi-town.” -Wade K, TripAdvisor


Content Manager and Tour Guide

Chicago has so many neighborhoods, buildings, and by-ways that it’s hard to go long without seeing something new, or something familiar from a new angle. I studied Cinema History for my M.A. from the University of Chicago. I’ve worked as a culture writer for various publications and as an educator of the humanities at the City Colleges of Chicago. I’m thrilled to share my love of this city’s busy past and unique architectural spaces with Chicago Detours. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park.

“Alex was fascinating to listen to. He clearly knows his history and it shows.” -Katie K., Yelp


Marketing Coordinator and Tour Guide

Chicago’s history is so fascinating, you could spend a lifetime uncovering its secrets…I’m willing to give it a try! I have an M.A. in US History from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and then pursued doctoral studies in Urban History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I love to learn new aspects of Chicago’s rich history and then share my knowledge as a tour guide with Chicago Detours. I live in Ravenswood.

“Marie was a bubbling fountain of information and contagious enthusiasm.” -Lorit, TripAdvisor


Private Tour Coordinator and Tour Guide

There is no shortage of things to discover in Chicago—I love being an urban explorer and uncovering its hidden places. I have an MA in Public History from Loyola University Chicago, and I have worked as a museum educator and kindergarten teacher. My desire to learn new things fuels my passion for educating others, which I get to experience every day as a Chicago tour guide. I live in the northern neighborhood of Rogers Park.

“Our guide Ellen was exceptional and gifted with a great personal touch.” -Robert, GetYourGuide


Public Tour Coordinator and Tour Guide in Training

Whether you are a first-time visitor or a lifelong resident, the vibrant history and modern majesty of Chicago never ceases to amaze.  I’m a graduate of Columbia College, with my M.A. in Interdisciplinary Art, and I also have worked for many years as an educator in the Humanities at City Colleges of Chicago. When traveling the world or exploring my hometown I aim to synthesize my enthusiasm for culture and architecture with my passion as an educator and tour guide at Chicago Detours.  I live in the neighborhood of West Town/Noble Square.


Tour Guide in Training

With its vibrant neighborhoods, sustaining network of parks and stunning skyline, Chicago is a city under constant reinvention.  I have lived in the city for most of my life as a practicing architect and educator and never stop being amazed by Chicago’s vitality.  As a tour guide for Chicago Detours I strive to engage our guests with Chicago’s history and culture, and perhaps gain a new perspective of our cityscape.  I live in the Downtown neighborhood of Lakeshore East.

Call Us: 312.350.1131
E-Mail Us: [email protected]