1893 World’s Fair Tour Overview
This very special walking tour digs into how and why the 1893 World’s Fair captures imaginations more than any other event in Chicago history. Unlike other World’s Fair tours and Devil in the White City tours, which likely revolve around facts and trivia, you’ll dig deeper on this tour.
On this fun and insightful walking tour, you’ll venture into beautiful architectural spaces from the era. You will play a few thoughtfully designed games, like visual scavenger hunts. Along with guide commentary, your guide will show you on shared iPads material from archives and photographs that illuminate this event, also known as the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.
This downtown tour visits some of the few remaining and spectacular buildings from the time of the World’s Fair. The fairgrounds themselves were south of downtown, but you can best see the impact of the fair in the Loop. Here the architecture and landscape still show the World’s Fair imprint even today, nearly 125 years later. And beyond just looking at buildings from outside, our mostly indoor walking tour sees the beauty of architectural details within.
On this walking tour, you will eat a couple light snacks (we used to call this a “food tour” but have minimized the food, just fyi in case you’re reading reviews on Yelp or TripAdvisor). Plus, you can opt to get drinks (on you), too!
You can think of this 3-hour-long walking tour as being 5% outdoors, 95% indoors, 20% clue-based games and visual scavenger hunts, 10% drinking time, and 100% awesome historical tour time. We know the math doesn’t add up – we hope you get the idea!
With just intermittent walks outside, the 1893 World’s Fair Tour makes for a great walking tour in all seasons. This tour makes the World’s Fair’s lasting impact come to life. We hope you’ll join us!
Walking Tour Highlights
- Colorful mosaics in a hotel built for the 1893 World’s Fair
- The sweeping grand lobby of the Auditorium Building
- Ride one of the downtown’s last human-operated elevators
- A secret building hidden in an alley
- See the Monadnock Building, a landmark early skyscraper
- The opulent Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, once an exclusive men’s club
Stories and Ideas
- The rapid changes in culture around the turn of the century
- The 1893 Fair’s array of foods and even food sculpture
- Parlor songs of the past
- The beginnings of consumer culture and advertising
- Amusements on the Midway at the 1893 World’s Fair
Reservation Does Not Include:
Drinks: At the tour meeting spot, we welcome you to get a drink at the bar before check-in. To streamline the tour, we take your order and cash for your second drink at check-in ($6 for beer, $8 for wine, includes gratuity). At the third drink stop, you may independently purchase a beer, wine, or cocktail of your choice. THESE FEES INCLUDE OUR RATHER HIGH CHICAGO RESTAURANT TAXES AND SERVER GRATUITY.
- Dietary restrictions: two small snacks are included. We may be able to accommodate vegetarians. If you are gluten-free, dairy-free, or have other allergies, we cannot make substitutions.
- Tour guide gratuity.
Walking distance: 0.9 mile
Arianna C.1893 World's Fair Tour with Bars
Alex is a fantastic and very informative tour guide! The stories and sights were fascinating and left much to reflect upon! I would highly recommend this tour!
Melissa M.1893 World's Fair Tour with Bars
This was a fun and informative tour. Learned lots of new facts and it made for a good time despite the rain. Nice alternative to the usual date night.
Brittany W.1893 World's Fair Tour with Bars
We had a wonderful time on this tour!! Our guide, Elizabeth, was fantastic in every way. Not only was she knowledgeable about the historical aspects of our tour, we threw her questions about Chicago history in general and she caught them all. She also did a wonderful job navigating our XL group through the streets of Chicago, and she elegantly handled a run-in with a heckler. I will definitely recommend this tour to friends and look for other Chicago Detours to attend!
Maris B.1893 World's Fair Tour with Bars
I had a great time on this tour. I learned a lot of things about Chicago even though I live here as well as about the World's Fair and the lasting impacts. I will definitely do another tour with this group but there is a fair amount of walking so I'd sign up when the weather isn't subzero.
Kate M.1893 World's Fair Tour with Bars
This was a lot of fun! Really enjoyed what we learned as well as all the team play.
Katie R.1893 World's Fair Tour with Bars
Tour was so awesome and fun. We were all local chicagoans but really enjoyed learning new things about the fair. Super fun games too.
Robyn S.1893 World's Fair Tour with Bars
I wasn't aware that the class would be with Chicago Detours, so when I was first at the hotel I didn't know where to find the group. Once I figured that out, the tour was great! Very informative and fun, even for a Chicagoan. Would definitely recommend to others!
Sarah R.1893 World's Fair Tour with Bars
Great class! As promised, you do get to see a lot of places in Chicago that otherwise you would miss. (And I should know, as I live here!) The teacher Alex knows his stuff - so be prepared to come with questions. The gist of it? I would highly recommend this class to anyone who has even the slightest interest in the 1893 World's Fair. It's worth the money and the time.
Jennifer B.1893 World's Fair Tour with Bars
This was a great tour! neat trivia and fun games along the way, not to mention the snacks and drinks! Even as a local, I visited places I had never been in before. I highly recommend this one! Also Elizabeth was a great guide!
Rachel C.1893 World's Fair Tour with Bars
So much fun and very informative. The guide was entertaining and well-prepared. Though not so much about the fair itself, I learned lots about the World's Fair from a different perspective.
Susan K.1893 World's Fair Tour with Bars
This was a great tour! Fun and educational! I would highly recommend to locals and out of towers alike.
Kimberly M.1893 World's Fair Tour with Bars
Informative and entertaining with great food and a great guide
Hill R.1893 World's Fair Tour with Bars
Interesting tour loaded with fun facts and likely places you've never seen whether you're a local or just visiting! Bring your walking shoes.
Multiple Guides at Chicago Detours
We are a group of educators, historians, artists and story-tellers. Founder Amanda Scotese launched Chicago Detours in July 2010 after close to a decade of travel in Italy as a Tour Guide and Guidebook Researcher with Rick Steves’ Europe. She decided to bring her travel expertise back home with tour experiences that are fun, educational, and truly make us feel connected with our grand city. Our professional Chicago tour guides are highly trained and educated, and we know how to spark discussions and create a lively group dynamic on our public and private group tours of Chicago. Today we are a community of Chicagoans passionate about sharing the architecture, history, and culture of Chicago through the Chicago Detours blog and our guided walking and bus tours.