Chicago '10

Art & Design

A survey of art, architecture and design in the Windy City.

Walking Tours, Bus Tours and Audio Tours

There are a lot of ways to see a city, but when you're new to it, or when you don't have long to visit, it helps to have a guide.

There are a lot of options for guides in Chicago — you can hire a tour guide, take a hop-on, hop-off bus tour, you can explore guide books and walking tour books, you can download free audio tours and you can buy commercial audio tours. There there are folks who will give you a private tour for free.

So many options.


Reduced & Zipped — A note on alternative download sites, below:
I've created versions of some of the audio tour files at reduced file size — so you can fit more on your iPod without crowding that must-have collection of tunes of yours. Since audio tour files are mainly spoken descriptions, we can use a much smaller audio file without noticably degrading sound quality. However, don't redistribute these altered versions — just use them to save iPod space during our Chicago tour.


Millennium Park

Freely Downloadable

Reduced & Zipped

Free audio/walking tour of Millenium Park.
(note:  Spanish, Chinese versions are available)

Download tour and install on your  iPod/MP3 player before leaving Searcy.
Walking Tour of Millennium Park

Art in the Loop  

Walking Tour of Public Art in the Loop

Theaters in the Loop   Walking Tour of Theaters in the Loop
Landmarks (Architecture) in the Loop   Walking Tour of Architectural Sites
Historical Architecture Near the Hostel   Historic Architecture Walking Tour and Map
Grant Park & Milenium Park  

National Geographic Tour (map & text) [NO AUDIO]
Explore the major landmarks along South Michigan Avenue's parks — Chicago's "Front Yard".

The Magnificent Mile  

National Geographic Tour (map & text)[NO AUDIO]
Explore North Michigan Avenue — Chicago's finest shopping district.

The Loop  

National Geographic Tour (map & text)[NO AUDIO]
This is a brief survey of the major buildings in the inner and older city — the Loop.

Chicago Model City Tour  

Chicago Model City - Audio Tour — By Chicago Architecture Foundation

This audio tour guides you through the model of the city (currently/still?) on display at the Chicago Architecture Foundation at 224 S. Michigan.

Macy's Tour

Macy's Site

Reduced & Zipped

— This is not a full-blown tour, but is several audio files, each describing a highlight of the store's interior.
— Tour includes: Introduction / 8th Floor Overlook / Great Tree / The Walnut Room / The Tiffany Vaulted Ceiling / The Great Clocks / Conclusion
— Note: Macy's also offers a "History and Architecture Video".
Shopping Discount: Go to 7th Floor Visitor's an out-of-town ID, and get an 11% discount pass.

Museum of Contemporary Art MCA Site

MCA Podcasts

The museum maintains podcasts of various discussions, lectures and exhibit tours. Check on current exhibits and tours before planning a visit.

ChigagoGreeter Tours program offers free guided tours for 6-or-fewer people IF you schedule well ahead of time.
If there is a particular part of the city that you'd like to explore, check this service out.
You might also check on guided tours by Forgotten Chicago
Visit Architectural Landmarks as you walk the city  

Most buildings are open to the public. As long as you are polite and quiet, you can browse at least the lobby area. If you plan your time well, you can visit many architectural sites and areas in small groups.

— In the past we've contacted consierge's at some of the downtown buildings. Occasionally you find someone who is enthusiastic about the architecture of their building and will offer to give a formal tour, or informally show you some highlights. It never hurts to ask — just look for the first official looking person you see when you get into the lobby.

Museum Tours   Most museums offer tours. Some are by prior arrangement. Some are offered at regularly scheduled times. Some are free — others not. Check their web sites for options.
Oak Park — Frank Lloyd Wright #1   A quick connection between Wright's Home and Studio, and Unity Temple, with lovely residential examples along the way.
Oak Park — Wright #2   [this is a home-grown tour.]
Oak Park — Queen Anne & Wright #3   [this is a home-grown tour.]


CTA Bus Route AudioTours

  [this is a home-grown tour.]
These "tours" use the city bus routes, a map, mp3 files and your CTA pass to explore the city. If you're using a CTA pass, you can hop on and hop off wherever you like, explore, then catch the next bus.


Chicago Trip Home Page | Audio Tours | Activities | Art Museums & Galleries | Shopping | Restaurants | Photo Challenges


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