Do we go inside any buildings?
Of course we do! That's a big part of what makes Inside Chicago's tours so great! We will see the interiors of some buildings, while exploring the exteriors of others. But we go inside at least a few buildings on nearly every regular route!
Is advance purchase required?
Yes, advance ticket purchase is required so that we can plan to staff each tour accordingly. We would appreciate at least 24 hours’ advance notice/purchase of tickets, though tickets can be bought until shortly before a tour begins (unless a tour has been canceled). Tickets are purchased via our Tickets page. Tickets can be purchased online using a credit card; no personal checks are allowed. Tickets can also be purchased via phone through our FareHarbor Call Center: (872) 529-2523. Call Center hours are now 24/7!
How much do tour tickets cost?
Ticket prices are as follows (with few exceptions for seasonal tours):
$30 general admission (ages 11 and up);
$25 seniors (65+);
$25 children (ages 6-10);
Free for kids under 6.
Promotional discounts may apply. Additional fees may apply for a limited number of specialized tours (e.g., foreign language tours, private tours, etc.). Please contact us directly for more information.
How long is each tour, both in terms of distance and time?
All of our regular walking tours cover approximately 1½ miles at a leisurely pace, lasting about 2 to 2.5 hours. We recommend wearing comfortable shoes and dressing appropriately for heat/cold.
Who should take these tours?
Inside Chicago Walking Tours enthusiastically welcomes all participants, though leaves it to your discretion as to whether a walking tour is right for you and your group. As these are walking tours, there will naturally be things like staircases (and exercise): please consider this if, for example, you have a wheelchair or baby stroller.
Will locals enjoy the tour as well or is it mostly for tourists?
We actually encourage locals to experience being a tourist in their own town by taking any (or all!) of Inside Chicago's tour routes. You'll be amazed how much you didn't know about your city, and how much more you'll appreciate your hometown at the end of the tour!
How are the tours different? Which one should I take?
All of our tours focus on exploring and enjoying Chicago's gorgeous architecture, inside and out. All tours will give you an insider's glimpse into Chicago's architectural beauty. Tours vary, though, in terms of the "story" they're telling about the city, focusing on different aspects of Chicago's history, whether it be immigrant history, the pre- and post- of the Great Fire, secrets and hidden details of downtown, etc. Each area, in our opinion, lends itself to telling some different part of the story of Chicago, and we've created tour routes that focus on architecture, but that use architecture to tell a bigger story of the city.
Is there a bathroom stop? Do you provide water bottles?
Though there is no set place that the tour will stop for a group bathroom break, we will of course accommodate anyone who needs to use the bathroom. The tours last about 2 hours, so we recommend that you use the bathroom before we begin. We do not provide water bottles.
Are there tours on Sundays and holidays?
Yes, certain routes run on Sundays. Please see the Tour Schedule for specific offerings.
What is the maximum or minimum number of people in a tour group?
Tours are generally limited to 20 people so that we can accommodate the needs of each group. Tours will usually run with a minimum of one person, though this depends on a few factors, including weather and potential sales. If a tour is cancelled, it will not show up on our ticket calendar online.
Are special group or private tours available?
Yes, we can make special arrangements to accommodate special groups, and offer a discounted group rate. Led by a former teacher and improv comedy performer, our tours are especially appropriate for educational groups, corporate groups, family and school reunions, alumni associations, and similar groups. With sufficient advance notice and purchase, we can also schedule FRENCH, CHINESE, and SPANISH language group tours with special routes. Please contact us for more information.
When do tours start? Where do we meet?
All tours begin on time. Please consult the website for individual tour starting times and tour route areas (exact meeting locations made available with ticket purchase). We ask that you arrive at the meeting location at least ten (10) minutes prior to departure. With your paid ticket(s), an email confirmation will be sent to you, noting the tour starting time and tour starting location. If, for some reason, you are not at the starting location by 5 minutes before the tour is scheduled to begin, your tour operator will call you using the contact number provided by our ticketing agent, and attempt to check in with you about joining the tour. No-call/no-show tour participants will not be refunded for any reason.
How will we recognize the guide?
Your guide will be waiting at the starting point, wearing a brightly colored turquoise shirt, and holding a brightly colored binder. Please check in with your guide as soon as you arrive at the starting location.
Where do tours end?
Tours do not end where they begin, though the ending point is nearly always a 10-15 walk from the starting point. Individual tour ending points vary according to the route. Your guide will also be on hand at the end of the tour to give you directions to wherever you need to go after the tour.
Is there parking near the tours’ starting/ending points?
We recommend parking in a parking garage near your tour’s starting point, as opposed to parking at a meter, which usually have a 2-hour time limit. There is also a fantastic discount parking site called "SpotHero," where you can find heavily discounted parking throughout the city simply by entering the location/area you'd like to park -- rates as low as $10 for all day. Check it out here!
What about pagers and cell phones?
Out of consideration for other tour participants and your guide, we ask that you turn ringers and alerts off or switch them to silent mode. If you must have a phone conversation during the tour, we would appreciate your stepping away from the group so as not to disrupt anyone’s experience.
Should I bring my camera?
Absolutely! Certain buildings have restrictions about where you can take photos, but most buildings allow you to take all the photos you’d like, and (of course) provide fantastic photo opportunities. The only exception to this rule is our “Look Up, Look Down” route offered on weekdays. Since we go inside a government building on this route on weekdays, you are NOT allowed to bring cameras or weapons of any kind inside this building. Camera phones are okay.
What about bad weather?
There are no refunds for customer cancellation due to adverse weather situations as we generally conduct tours rain or shine. Please check the weather forecast for the possibility of adverse conditions (rain, cold, etc.) and prepare as appropriate. If extreme inclement weather forces the cancellation of a tour already scheduled or already started, re-scheduling or refund of the tour will be arranged.
Is tipping permitted?
Tipping is encouraged but never expected. The tour guide is rendering you a service, and as such, a tip is appreciated if you feel the guide has done a good job. In the service industry, the customary tipping amount is 15-20% of the tour price (for reference, usually $5 to $10/person).
Are the tour routes all wheelchair-accessible? Are any routes not recommended?
Yes, most of the tour routes present no major obstacles/issues for visitors using wheelchairs. There are varying levels of accessibility, depending on the tour route chosen:
The World Within
MOSTLY ACCESSIBLE (only a couple minor issues)
Create Your Own Architecture Tour
Look Up, Look Down (various stairs along route)
Chicago After Dark: Secret Gardens, Live Music, and Fireworks! (length & stairs)
The Original Surf & Turf Tour (length & stairs)
Inside Chicago Walking Tours (ICWT), Co. assumes no responsibility and hereby disclaims any legal or other liability for any personal injury, death, property damage, error or omission, or any other loss, damage, accident, delay, inconvenience, or irregularity occasioned by any individual’s and/or entity’s contemplation of, or participation in, any of the “services” (“services” include but are not limited to walking tours, presentations, consulting services, gift certificates, discounts and any products), offered by ICWT and/or any other parties (“third-party contractors”) with whom ICWT may choose to contract to provide services. This provision is also applicable to the cancellation of such services by ICWT and/or any of its third-party contractors. While ICWT has taken every effort to insure that the information contained in this website and its promotional materials are correct, please be aware that such information may unintentionally become incomplete, inaccurate, or out of date.