1893 World’s Fair Tour for Families

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Event Overview

Bring the whole family to experience incredible architecture, historical stories of turn-of-the-century Chicago, and visual scavenger hunts.


Special for spring break 2018, the 1893 World's Fair Tour for Families digs into how and why the World's Columbian Exposition still captures imaginations more than 120 years later. We regularly offer a version of this 1893 World's Fair Tour for adults in which we stop in bars. Special for spring break, we will not go into the bars. Instead, the tour focuses on the educational games and architectural explorations, geared toward children.

This mostly indoor walking tour digs into how and why the 1893 World’s Fair captures our imaginations more than any other event in Chicago history. Youth and their families will explore downtown buildings that all tie in with the history of the World's Columbian Exposition.

In between tour commentary, the guide will lead you in interactive, educational games, including a visual scavenger hunt with historic clues. Along with guide commentary, your guide will show you on shared iPads material from archives and photographs that illuminate these festivities. You'll even get a chance to ride in a human-operated elevator, one of the last left in the city.

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, where today very little remains intact from the fair. You can best see the impact of the fair right in downtown Chicago. Here the architecture and landscape still show the World's Fair imprint even today.

Did you read the Devil in the White City book? Either way this tour will take your understanding of the World's Columbian Exposition to the next level. And for the record, the tour does not delve into the sensationalist serial killer part of the story as we want to focus on the dramatic changes happening to American culture around the turn of the century.

We recommend bringing kids ages 6 and up. This tour is designed to appeal to both kids and adults. Tour groups are limited to 14, and so space is very limited for this limited run special event which is normally only available to Student Groups. Note: This tour is designed for families with children. Adults traveling without children should join our 1893 World's Fair Walking Tour with Bars.

Walking Tour Highlights

  • The sweeping grand lobby of the Auditorium Building

  • Ride an old elevator with a human operator

  • Interactive, educational games

  • 19th-century architecture

  • A secret alleyway with a historic restaurant

  • Magnificent architecture of a former department store

Tour Meeting Spot

Tour starts in the bar lobby at the north end of the Congress Plaza Hotel, 520 S. Michigan Ave. Tour ends at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, 12 S. Michigan Ave.

Stories and Ideas

  • The rapid changes in culture around the turn of the century

  • A history of popcorn

  • All the different exhibits, from transportation to fine arts

  • The 1893 Fair’s array of foods and even food sculpture

  • Parlor songs of the past

  • Amusements on the Midway at the 1893 World's Fair

  • The magnitude and brevity of this influential event

1893 World’s Fair Tour Includes:

  • Professional tour guide commentary

  • Shared iPads with historic photos

  • Game prizes and gifts

  • One small snack is included.  It is vegetarian and gluten free.  We cannot accomodate other dietary restrictions.

Walking Distance:  0.5 miles


Be sure to print the map of our meeting point. We start INSIDE the main lobby at the north end of the Congress Plaza Hotel, 520 S. Michigan Ave. Please arrive 10 minutes in advance for check-in. Look for the guide with the name tag and clipboard.

Come early to grab a drink at the bar!

FOOD - This is not a food tour. One small snack is included. It is vegetarian and gluten free. We cannot accommodate other dietary restrictions

TOUR CHANGES - All sales are final. Changes are welcome at least 48 hours before the tour. Please email info@chicagodetours.com to process a change. We do not accept changes via voicemail. After 48 hours changes and cancellations are not accepted. Details on our cancellation policy on FAQs page.

TOUR END - Tour ends promptly three hours after your scheduled start time. We end inside the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, 12 S. Michigan Ave.

PARKING - If you are driving, Chicago Detours offers our guests a special discounted rate for parking at the Grant Park North Garage, accessible from Michigan Avenue at Randolph Street (directions here). Rate is $15 ($38 value), valid up to 12 hours. Upon check-in for the tour, ask the tour guide for a voucher for the discounted rate. Please understand that if you do not ask for the voucher at the beginning of the tour, we can no longer be responsible for giving it to you. The garage is about four blocks from the tour meeting point, and right at the tour end location.


Link to Meeting Point:




Minimum age

All ages welcome

Cancellation Policy

There are currently no upcoming dates scheduled for this Dabble. Log in to an account message the host or add to your bucket list to be automatically notified when new dates are posted.


Our Philosophy
We believe that the primary role of a tour guide is to educate, so we create an interactive group dynamic and share educational tools and new perspectives for you to connect with the architecture of Chicago.

We are committed to responsible travel, so our tour company uses green practices and immerse you in a truly local experience.

We know that history is best told with a creative approach, so we use different media, like historic quotes, old photographs, and documentary film clips, to stimulate your imagination and present various perspectives.

We believe that a city like Chicago is more than “highlights,” so we share forgotten stories about both famous city landmarks and lesser-known attractions.

We understand that business is about building community, so our tour company likes to connect with tour operators, conventions, destination management companies, non-profits, community groups, senior groups, universities, cultural organizations, and Chicago businesses.

We treat all our tour guests like a new friend, because we believe in the importance of hospitality, and we love when tour guests have chosen to tour Chicago with a small business.

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