Join us in Chicago to see the highlights of one of America’s treasured cities. Immerse yourself in the city’s art and architecture as expert guides share fascinating insights during special excursions, including a river cruise.

Starting at: $3,490 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Chicago skyline  The city of Chicago, renowned for its modern and contemporary architecture

The Arts of Chicago

6 days from $3,490

Join us in Chicago to see the highlights of one of America’s treasured cities. Immerse yourself in the city’s art and architecture as expert guides share fascinating insights during special excursions, including a river cruise.

or Call 855-330-1542

Overview

Sleek skyscrapers, acclaimed museums, world-class restaurants, and outstanding entertainment—Chicago has it all. With a stunning skyline, magnificent lakefront, and verdant parkland, Chicago bustles with big-city appeal, coupled with indisputable Midwestern charm. Immerse yourself in the city’s art and architecture as expert guides share fascinating insights during special excursions, including an architectural river cruise. Tour the illustrious Art Institute of Chicago, the Adler Planetarium, and the ornate Orchestra Hall, home to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Be captivated by Chicago’s many charms during this exclusive adventure!

Highlights Include

  • Architectural Masterpieces: Take a coach tour of “the Loop” featuring many of Chicago’s architectural gems. In the Hyde Park area, stroll amid neo-Gothic buildings on the University of Chicago campus. Enjoy a private tour of the Chicago Symphony Center, designed by Daniel Burnham, and visit Millennium Park with the Frank Gehry-designed Pritzker Music Pavilion.
  • Architecture-Themed River Cruise: Learn about the city’s many historic structures, such as the Tribune Tower, Wrigley Building, and Marina City during a leisurely river cruise.
  • Acclaimed Art: Tour the renowned Art Institute of Chicago, with its Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, European Old Masters, American works, and the modern wing designed by Renzo Piano.
  • Smithsonian Affiliates: Visit the Adler Planetarium, Driehaus Museum (2017) or the Du Sable Museum of African American History (2018).

To see itinerary, please click on an option below.

2017 Itinerary

Day 1 — Arrive in Chicago

Smithsonian Journeys travelers depart their gateway city for Chicago. Transfer to the deluxe Palmer House Hotel in Chicago’s vibrant Loop. At the hotel, each traveler will receive a customized welcome kit containing general information about Chicago, as well as a map of the city. The Smithsonian Journeys travel director will be available throughout the program to offer suggestions regarding sightseeing, restaurants, and independent activities. This evening join fellow travelers for a welcome reception and introductory presentation by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. Dinner will follow at the hotel. (R,D)

Day 2 — Chicago

A full breakfast will be served each morning at the hotel during your stay. Join the Smithsonian Journeys Expert for an informative presentation. Your day features a city highlights tour by coach, featuring a variety of neighborhoods. See well-known buildings in the Loop, inclulding the Merchandise Mart and Chicago School of Architecture buildings such as the Reliance Building and the Carson Pirie Scott Building. Visit the city’s Hyde Park area, where you'll take an architectural walking tour of the University of Chicago campus, passing neo-Gothic buildings like the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel; the Robie House, an iconic example of Frank Lloyd Wright design; and Henry Moore’s bronze sculpture, Nuclear Energy, which commemorates the birthplace of atomic fission. After lunch near Chicago’s Museum Campus, continue to the Adler Planetarium, an important Smithsonian Affiliate. The Planetarium showcases one of the most complete collections of astronomical artifacts. See the most exciting exhibits, which include the fully restored Gemini 12 spacecraft, on loan from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. This evening gather with your Smithsonian Journeys Expert for lively discussion in the Smithsonian Journeys corner. (B,L)

Day 3 — Chicago

Attend an engaging presentation by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert this morning. Then set out for a walking tour full of diverse highlights. First, walk a few blocks to the Art Institute of Chicago where a musuem docent will tell you about the museum and its treasures. Enjoy a highlights tour featuring some of the museum’s extensive collections, followed by some free time to explore on your own. Lunch will be served at a restaurant near the Art Institute of Chicago. Just a short distance away is the Chicago Symphony Center. Here, you’ll enjoy a private tour of the inner workings of the concert hall and its backstage areas. Originally built by Daniel Burnham in the Georgian Revival style, the building is home to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with its remarkable six-story rotunda. This afternoon, explore Millennium Park to see its elegant architecture and innovative sculpture. See Frank Gehry’s dazzling Pritzker Music Pavilion and Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate sculpture also known fondly as "The Bean." And stop to admire the Crown Fountain sculpture by Jaume Plensa. Dinner this evening will feature famous Chicago-style, deep-dish pizza. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Chicago

Begin the day with a presentation by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. Then travel by coach along Michigan Avenue north of the Chicago River. Here, you'll visit the stunning Driehaus Museum, which provides a fascinating look at a palatial Chicago home built during the Gilded Age. See beautiful rooms and galleries furnished with authentic period pieces and art from the extensive Richard H. Driehaus Collection. Enjoy lunch at a nearby café. Then enjoy a Chicago River architectural cruise, a true highlight of a trip to Chicago. Sit back, relax, and take in some of the city's most important architecture as your boat plies the Chicago riverways. Your expert guide provides fascinating stories, background, and context of many of Chicago’s most influential buildings and skyscrapers, including the gleaming white Wrigley Building, the Tribune Tower, and Marina City, which are easily seen in all their glory from the river. (B,L)

Day 5 — Chicago

The day is free to follow your own path and explore the city on your own. This evening Smithsonian Journeys travelers will get together for a farewell dinner at a local Chicago Steak and Chop House. (B,D)

Day 6 — Return Flights to U.S. Gateway Cities

After breakfast, transfer to O’Hare International Airport for return flights home. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

2018 Itinerary

Day 1 — Arrive in Chicago

Smithsonian Journeys travelers depart their gateway city for Chicago. Transfer to the deluxe Palmer House Hotel in Chicago’s vibrant Loop. At the hotel, each traveler will receive a customized welcome kit containing general information about Chicago, as well as a map of the city. The Smithsonian Journeys travel director will be available throughout the program to offer suggestions regarding sightseeing, restaurants, and independent activities. This evening join fellow travelers for a welcome reception and introductory presentation by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. Dinner will follow at the hotel. (R,D)

Day 2 — Chicago

A full breakfast will be served each morning at the hotel during your stay. Join your Smithsonian Journeys Expert for an informative presentation. Start exploring on a tour of the city and its highlights. See the Merchandise Mart and Civic Opera House, the Tribune Tower and the gleaming white Wrigley Building. See the famed Chicago landmark Marina City and superb Chicago School of Architecture buildings including the Reliance Building, and the Carson, Pirie, Scott Building. Visit the city’s south-side Hyde Park area and admire the neo-Gothic buildings like the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel on the campus of the University of Chicago. See Henry Moore’s bronze sculpture, “Nuclear Energy”, that commemorates the birthplace of atomic fission.

After lunch near Chicago’s Museum Campus, continue to the Adler Planetarium, an important Smithsonian Affiliate. The Planetarium showcases one of the most complete collections of astronomical artifacts. See the most exciting exhibits that include the fully-restored Gemini 12 spacecraft, on loan from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. This evening, gather with your Smithsonian Journeys Expert for an engaging presentation and lively discussion in the Smithsonian Journeys travelers corner. (B,L)

Day 3 — Chicago

After breakfast, attend an engaging presentation by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. Afterward, travel to the Art Institute of Chicago for an introduction by one of the Institute’s docents who will talk about the museum and its treasures. Later, see some of the highlights of the museum’s extensive collection. There’s some free time so you can explore on your own. Lunch will be served at a restaurant near the Art Institute. Just a short distance away is the Chicago Symphony Center. Here, you’ll enjoy a private tour and discover the features of this historic cultural center. Originally built by Daniel Burnham, in the Georgian Revival style, the building, with its remarkable six-story rotunda is home to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. This afternoon, explore Millennium Park to see its elegant architecture and innovative sculpture. See Frank Gehry's dazzling Pritzker Music Pavilion and Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate sculpture, known locally as “The Bean.” Stop to admire the amusing sculpture by Juame Plensa’s Crown Fountain. Chicago is well known for its remarkable collection of public art. Dinner this evening will feature famous Chicago-style, deep-dish pizza. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Chicago

Start the day with a presentation by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert. Afterward, explore the Du Sable Museum of African American History, another important Smithsonian Affiliate that showcases African American history and culture in America. In the 1960s it became evident to Dr. Margaret Burroughs and other Chicago leaders that there was a lack of African American history in the educational system. From humble beginnings in Dr. Burroughs’s home, today the museum has more than 15,000 paintings, prints, art and historic artifacts. Lunch will be served at a nearby café. One of the highlights of a Chicago visit is an Architectural Cruise on the Chicago River. An expert guide will offer a fascinating narrative on Chicago’s greatest buildings and skyscrapers that line the banks of the river. (B,L)

Day 5 — Chicago

Today is free of planned activities so you can follow your own path, and explore the city on your own. The Smithsonian Journeys travel director will be available to help with planning your day. This evening, Smithsonian Journeys travelers will get together for a farewell reception followed by dinner at a local Chicago Steak and Chop House. (B,D)

Day 6 — Return Flights to U.S. Gateway Cities

After breakfast, transfer to O’Hare International Airport for return flights to gateway cities. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)