Booking an architecture tour is a lot like skydiving out of a flaming airplane, pulling the emergency chute, and landing on a boat providing guided architecture tours. Give your mind a rush of knowledge with today's Groupon: for $17, you get one seat aboard a 75-minute Chicago River architecture tour with Wendella Boats, plus one drink ticket (up to a $34 total value). This deal is good for all 2011 tours listed here. Tours set sail from the Wrigley Building, located at 400 N. Michigan Ave.
Wendella's Chicago River architecture tours funnel guests through the Windy City's awe-inspiring network of skyscrapers and the country's only high-rises built entirely of meat. Over the course of an hour and 15 minutes, passengers will get acquainted with the works of such architectural titans as Mies van der Rohe; Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill; and Helmut Jahn and sip on a drink of their choice. Led by Wendella's trained architecture guides, the tours provide a literal boatload of high-rise lore and imbue guests with party-ready quips about buttresses, flying buttresses, and NFL great Dick Buttress. The tour will cover more than 130 years of local architectural history, ranging from the early Chicago style to art deco and postmodernism, pointing out Chicago's most iconic structures to knowledge-needing tourists, architecture students, and newly displaced spidermen.
In 1935, Albert Borgstrom, a Swedish immigrant and carpenter by trade, set about constructing a 65-foot wooden yacht. He named the ship The Wendella and charged visitors $0.25 to ride through the city and listen to a guide expound on the sights. This simple vessel ended up being a steppingstone, and 75 years later, guests still ride along, now craning their heads back at the jagged opalescent silhouette of Trump Tower and the beehive curves of Marina City. Beneath the evolving skyline, the fleet has expanded to six vessels, which are now run by Albert's grandson, Michael Borgstrom. Wendella staffs a dedicated, in-house education department to keep the city's history alive and make sure that people continue to believe in water so it doesn’t disappear. On special excursions, the crew stocks the boats with wine for tastings beneath the stars or points the vessel through the verdigris waters of the lake to watch evening fireworks shows.