WHAT IS A PUBLIC WALKING TOUR AND WHY SHOUD I JOIN ONE?
What is a Public Walking Tour?
A walking tour is public when it is regularly scheduled and anyone can register for it. We offer public tours of Chicago history, architecture and neighborhoods every day, both day and evening, all year. Led by passionate, professional tour guides, our fun and educational walking tours will give you new perspectives of Chicago architecture and history. All walking tours include an interactive dynamic, presentation of historic photos and videos, and special gifts.
Public Tours vs. Private Tours
Public tours are different from Private Group Tours, where one person books for a private event and manages who is invited. Groups up to 8 may book a public tour through our website; for groups of 9 or more, we suggest a one of our private bus or walking tours. Chicago walking tours and bus tours are available for private groups big or small. See our Private Group Tours page and our Private Tours FAQs.
Why our cool Chicago walking tours are different
Our Chicago tours are a lot of fun, and perfect for people who want to learn more about the city. A Chicago walking tour with Chicago Detours will show you the city’s architecture, history, and culture and give you a fresh, insider’s perspective on exploring Chicago. You’ll have fun, too! Travelers and locals who love to learn enjoy our style of tour. Our Chicago walking tours really dig into stories that aren’t commonly known.Our passionate, knowledgeable professional tour guides go beyond trivial facts, like dates, names, or architectural styles. They share new perspectives on the experience of architecture and how architecture can reflect culture and history. And our historical and architectural tours really create a memorable, fun experience with plenty of moments for guests to interact with one another.
HOW DO I JOIN A WALKING TOUR?
Reserving Spots on a Public Architecture Walking Tour:
Reservations are required for all our public architecture and history walking tours. The calendar on the Chicago Detours’ home page outlines the walking tour schedule, and you can purchase tickets there by clicking “Book Now.” Sold-out tour dates will be indicated. Or you can find the “Book Now” button on the page of the specific Public Tour you want to book. You can also call us at 312-350-1131 to purchase tickets for one of our Chicago walking tours.
Can I Wait to Book my Tour?
Technically you can book spots on one of our cool Chicago tours up to 30 minutes before the tour starts. But our walking tours to the public do sell out, so we advise you to book at least two days in advance.
What if the Walking Tour I Want is Sold Out?
You can register to be added to a wait-list for any of our history and architecture tours, or we hope you can book another time! You may also consider booking a private walking or bus tour instead. We have small group private tours available for groups up to 8.
PUBLIC TOUR DETAILS AND LOGISTICS
Architecture Walking Tour Length
Our historic walking tours vary in length. The Loop Interior Architecture Walking Tour, for example, is 2 hours, while the Historic Chicago Bar Walking Tour is 2 hours and 30 minutes. See specific public tour pages for details on every architecture and history tour we offer.
Architecture Walking Tour Distance
In order to allow maximum time for looking at Chicago architecture and engaging with tour guide commentary, our walking tours do not travel very far. The maximum distance they cover is 1.2 miles within 2.5 hours. Most walking tours have a distance of about half a mile, or a kilometer.
Please be prepared to walk or stand for the tour duration, though most tours have moments to sit.
Does the Walking Tour Stay Mostly Indoors?
We have year-round tours that remain mostly indoors, making them great for any kind of weather. Our summer walking tours go outside more. While we are not outside for most of the duration of our Chicago walking tours, please come prepared, i.e. water, umbrella.
What Drinks are Included on the Walking Tours with Drinks?
Why don’t we include the drinks in the Historic Chicago Walking Bar Tour price? Because we want to give non-drinkers the option of soda and water, and give drinkers the choice between wine or beer. These are all at different price points and paid for in cash at the start of the tour. Just fyi, while this could be called a pub crawl, it’s definitely an educational pub crawl.
Are the Walking Tours Accessible for Those with Mobility Issues?
Most of our public walking tours have stairs involved. Sometimes an elevator is an option and sometimes it is not. Please call us at 312-350-1131 if you have questions regarding accessibility.
Children on our Walking Tours
Our cool Chicago tours welcome kids, but adults will have a better time! We let you judge whether your child is interested in Chicago architecture and history. Kids are welcome on the Loop Interior Architecture Walking Tour or the Best Architecture Walking Tour for Design Lovers. Because the Loop Interior Architecture Tour is the most welcoming for children, we offer a discounted child rate for ages 17 and under.
Active parents with strollers can come on our walking tours, which involve some flights of stairs.
The Historic Chicago Bar Walking Tour and 1893 World’s Fair Walking Tour with Bars both enter into bars. We say the tour content can be appropriate for teens, age 16 and up. Soda or water are beverage options for these tour. The venues we enter are restaurants, which means they do not need to be 21 or over.
Can I Record the Walking Tour?
Please no video or audio recording devices. Minimal note-taking is permitted. Photography during our Chicago history and architecture tours is welcome – but don’t get left behind!
Gratuity for Tour Guide
Many find gratuities to be standard with tour guides. What is not standard is that tour guides give half our tour guide gratuities to non-profit organizations for specific programs that develop resources in Chicago culture, history and design for the community. See our current and past community initiatives.
WHERE DOES MY WALKING TOUR MEET AND WHERE DOES IT END?
Where Do I Meet the Tour Guide for My Walking Tour?
Our tours of downtown and Chicago neighborhoods start and finish at different locations, so please look at the individual walking tour pages and consult the confirmation email that you received when you booked the walking tour.
Please come 10-15 minutes early. We advise taking a bathroom break before arriving at the tour meeting point.
If you are driving, Chicago Detours offers our guests a special discounted rate for parking at the Grant Park North Garage, accessible from Michigan Avenue at Randolph Street (directions here). The rate is $15 ($38 value), valid up to 12 hours. Upon check-in for the tour, ask the tour guide for a voucher for the discounted rate. If you would like to pre-purchase your parking, go to Millennium Garages for additional discounted parking options.
HOW DO I RESCHEDULE MY PUBLIC WALKING TOUR?
Will my Walking Tour be Cancelled for Bad Weather?
Rain or shine our walking tours go on! No refunds. In the case of serious or threatening conditions, we’ll call you.
How Can I Change/Cancel My Walking Tour?
All sales are final. When you purchase tickets for a walking tour through Chicago Detours, you are purchasing a reserved spot on one of our walking tours. This reservation entitles you to a spot on that walking tour, which will leave at the stated time and date. That means we do not grant refunds for any reason at all. Tours promptly leave at the scheduled departure time and date, so don’t be late!
We are willing to reschedule reservations in some circumstances. When you reserve space on a tour, you take up a spot that could be filled by someone else. If you try to reschedule at the last minute, we probably can’t sell your spot. Therefore, we only allow customers to reschedule a reservation if they notify us more than 48 hours before the start of their tour.
We can only offer times and dates where we have open slots for additional reservations, and we make no guarantee that we can find an appropriate replacement tour date. If acts of nature prevent us from providing a tour at the scheduled time, we will arrange for a new time and date. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns about our policy.
ARE WALKING TOURS AVAILABLE IN OTHER LANGUAGES?
All public tours are in English. Private tours of Chicago history, architecture, culture and neighborhoods are available English, Italian and French.
I HAVE ANOTHER QUESTION!
Read more about our Chicago tour company here.
Your question may be answered on the individual page for the tour you have booked. You can find the list of all the public tours here.
If you have a question about a private tour, please check out the Private Tours FAQs.