Chinatown and historic Bronzeville on the South Side to the ethnic enclaves of
Devon Avenue and Uptown on the North Side. Neighborhood representatives
serve as guides and greeters along the way as tour participants visit area land-
marks, murals, museums, and shopping districts. Tickets (including a light snack)
are $25 for adults and $20 for seniors, students, and children 8 to 18. Several spe-
cialty tours have recently been added to the mix, including Literary Chicago; the
Great Chicago Fire; Roots of Blues, Gospel & Jazz; Threads of Ireland; Jewish
Legacy; and an Ethnic Cemetery tour. These tours, which generally run 4 to 6
hours and include lunch, are more expensive ($50 adults, $45 seniors and children).
The Chicago Historical Society offers a handful of walking tours every sum-
mer of the Gold Coast, Old Town, and Lincoln Park neighborhoods. Led by
CHS docents, they average about four per month from June through August.
Day and evening tours are available, and a few specialty walking tours usually are
offered as well. Tours are $10 per tour or $25 for a preregistered combination of
any three tours. Registration is recommended but not required. Tours depart
from the CHS museum at Clark Street and North Avenue, and light refreshments
are served immediately afterward. Call & 312/642-4600 for updates.
Groups can arrange tours of Chicago's “Black Metropolis,” the name given to
a South Side area of Bronzeville, where African Americans created a flourishing
business-and-artistic community after World War II. Contact Tour Black
Chicago ( & 773/684-9034; www.tourblackchicago.com) for more information.
GANGSTER TOURS Untouchable Tours, or so-called “gangster tours,”
10924 S. Prospect Ave., Chicago, IL 60643 ( & 773/881-1195; www.gangster
tour.com), is the only bus tour that takes you to all of the city's old hoodlum
hangouts from the Prohibition era. The focus is definitely more on entertain-
ment (guides with names like “Al Dente” and “Ice Pick” appear in costume and
role-play their way through the tour) than a seriously historic take on the era.
But the bus trip gives you a pretty thorough overview of the city, in addition to
the gangster hot spots. You'll see the site of O'Bannion's flower shop, the site of
the St. Valentine's Day massacre, and much more. The tour is pretty tame, but
if you have impressionable young ones, use your discretion; kids over age 8
should be fine. The cost is $24 for adults, $18 for children. Tours, which depart
from the southeast corner of Clark and Ohio streets, run Monday to Wednes-
day at 10am; Thursday at 10am and 1pm; Friday at 10am, 1pm, and 7:30pm;
Saturday at 10am, 1pm, and 5pm; and Sunday at 10am and 1pm.
GHOST TOURS Another offbeat way to experience the real “spirit” of
Chicago is to take a narrated supernatural bus tour of cemeteries, murder sites,
Indian burial grounds, haunted pubs, and other spooky places. Richard Crowe,
who bills himself as a “professional ghost hunter,” spins out ghost stories, leg-
ends, and lore on the 4-hour trip, held both day and night (afraid of the dark?).
I'd only take teens on these tours due to touchy subject matter and the rather
expensive price; use your discretion. Tickets are $35 per person, and the tour
begins at Goose Island Restaurant, 1800 N. Clybourn Ave. (a short walk from
the North/Clybourn El station on the Red Line). Two-hour supernatural boat
excursions are available for $24 per person in July and August through Labor
Day weekend, and board at 10:30pm from the Mercury boat dock, at Michigan
Avenue and Wacker Drive. Reservations are required for each tour; call
& 708/499-0300 or visit www.ghosttours.com. As you might imagine, Crowe's
tours get especially popular around Halloween, so you'll definitely want to
reserve well ahead of time if that's when you want to go.