Chicago is known to be a treasure trove of architectural sights. From the few buildings that were spared during the great fire of 1871, to the postmodern architecture of today, Chicago has a great deal to offer. Here are some ideas on where to get started in exploring the architectural wonders that Chicago has in store.

Sites to see in Chicago

While there are many wonderful sights to see in Chicago, you should be sure to include turn of the 20th century skyscrapers such as the Burnham and Root’s Rookery Building and the Sears Tower. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home and Studio, Robie House, The Art Institute, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago are not to be missed either.


You should also plan to make time to see Marina Towers. Also referred to as the Marina City Complex, Marina Towers has been built as a city within a city and features a combination of office space, residential space, and on-site facilities such as retail stores, restaurants, a cinema, and a bowling alley.

One great way to get an overall view of the city is to visit Hancock Tower. Hancock tower features an observatory allowing a 360-degree view of the city and a distance of up to 80 miles including four states.

While both more recent feats of architecture, Millennium Park and Aqua Tower are must visits during your stay in Chicago as well. Millennium Park is a showcase for 21st century postmodern architecture in Chicago, while the critically acclaimed Aqua at Lakeshore East is a unique skyscraper.

Architecture tours around the city

There are many different architecture tours available, but while you are staying in Chicago, you may also want to check out Chicago vacation apartments in lieu of a standard hotel room as a way to immerse yourself fully in the city.


A unique walking tour is available to explore both the Aqua at Lakeshore East tower exterior itself and the surrounding area in which it sits, while the Must-See Chicago walking tour requires an L train pass for transportation between sights. The Downtown “L” Train tour immerses you in the history of the elevated trains and station platforms of Chicago. Much of the tour takes place standing on station platforms, which allows you to see architectural details not visible from street level.

Chicago’s First Lady Cruises offers an architectural tour by boat that covers the design of 50 different buildings on their well-appointed vessel. A portion of the 90-minute cruise fee goes to support architecture education. Many specialized bus tours are also available, including one that makes stops at Frank Lloyd Wright designed homes, and another that visits Mies van der Rohe’s glass house in the woods, Farnsworth House.

For those looking to take a break from the architectural sights, the top floor of the Hancock tower features a lovely restaurant for an evening of dining. The Lincoln Park Zoo and the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven just outside Peggy Notebaert Nature Services are also welcome distractions.

Regardless of your mode of travel during your tour, there are many different styles of architecture to be observed while visiting Chicago. The hardest part will be ensuring that you set aside enough time to see everything on your list!