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May 24-29, 2015

Explore Chicago's vibrant and diverse architecture and art scene, including visits to the Art Institute of Chicago’s new Modern Wing, iconic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings, and other significant examples of architectural treasures, with the Chicago: Epicenter of American Architecture experience operated by National Trust Tours.


  • Enjoy the leadership of Rolf Achilles, longtime Chicago resident and renowned expert on Chicago architecture and interiors
  • Walk in the footsteps of the world’s most innovative architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Frank Gehry, and Renzo Piano
  • Marvel at Chicago’s spectacular skyscrapers during an architectural cruise along the Chicago River
  • Visit a private farm and see one of the world’s most important Arts and Crafts collections
  • Behold the astonishing Decorative Arts collection housed in the stunning Gilded Age Nickerson Mansion
  • Experience a private tour of Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Farnsworth House
  • Stay at The Palmer House Hilton, a Historic Hotels of America member

Enjoy five nights at The Palmer House Hilton, a member of Historic Hotels of America and an architectural treasure situated in the heart of the Loop. Dating back to 1875, the Beaux Arts-style landmark boasts exceptional accommodations in a historic Chicago setting.

Study Leader Information
An independent Art Historian, Rolf Achilles is an expert on Chicago preservation and architecture and boasts an impressive bibliography focused on the city's heritage initiatives. Achilles is also the Curator of the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows, Adjunct Associate Professor of Art History, Theory and Criticism, and Historic Preservation Program, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Lectures on architecture and preservation Loyola University and Northwestern University.

Tour Itinerary
May 24 - Sunday - Welcome to Chicago
Upon arrival in Chicago, transfer independently to the Palmer House Hilton, a revered landmark in the heart of Chicago’s Loop and a member of the Historic Hotels of America. The hotel offers an excellent location within walking distance of the Art Institute of Chicago and Millennium Park. At 4:00 pm, join study leader and architectural historian Rolf Achilles, a long-time Chicago resident, and walk to the Chicago River to spend the afternoon marveling at Chicago’s soaring towers while enjoying a special 90-minute architectural riverboat cruise. This tour spotlights more than fifty architecturally significant sites, including numerous landmarks of Modern American architecture. This evening, enjoy a light welcome reception at the hotel.

May 25 - Monday - In the Footsteps of Wright
Drive to Hyde Park and enjoy an architectural tour by bus of the elegant campus of the University of Chicago highlighting remarkable buildings by Cesar Pelli, Ricardo Legorreta, and Eero Saarinen. See Helmut Jahn’s futuristic Mansueto Library and the Logan Visual Arts Center by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. Next visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, a masterpiece of the Prairie Style and a National Trust Historic Site. Continue to Oak Park and enjoy an exterior visit to Ernest Hemingway’s birthplace home followed by lunch at a local restaurant. See Wright’s home and studio, another National Trust Historic Site. Next visit Unity Temple, considered by many architects to be the first modern building in the world. Before returning to the hotel for an evening at leisure, enter a lovely private home for an exclusive viewing of the owner’s remarkable art collection.

May 26 - Tuesday - Farnsworth House & Plano
Drive about 90 minutes to Plano for an exclusive viewing of Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, an icon of 20th century modern architecture and National Trust Historic Site. Stop for an independent lunch in the charming town of Geneva. Return to Chicago for a student-led tour of the Illinois Institute of Technology campus, originally planned by Mies. Visit Crown Hall, which Mies himself described as his best work; Carr Chapel, his only religious building; and buildings by Rem Koolhaas and Helmut Jahn. Drive past other Mies projects, including 860-880 Lake Shore Drive, the twin towers considered to be the first modern skyscrapers. The evening is at leisure.

May 27 - Wednesday - Arts & Craft Movement
Spend the morning at a privately-owned farm just north of Lake Forest and examine one of the most important private collections of decorative arts from the American and English Arts and Crafts movement, including major works of Gustav Stickley, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, William Morris, Charles Voysey, and many others. The original farm buildings have undergone extensive renovation in order to authentically exhibit this astonishing collection. En route back to the hotel, drive through neighborhoods north of the Loop, including the Gold Coast for an exterior visit to the Charnley-Persky House and Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Following lunch, finish at the remarkable Nickerson Mansion, one of the grandest residential buildings of 19th-century Chicago, and view the Richard Driehaus Collection of Decorative Arts, which focuses on the Gilded Age, offering an interesting counterpoint to the Arts and Crafts and Prairie Style furniture and objects already seen. The evening is at leisure.

May 28 - Thursday - The Art Institute
Walk to the Auditorium Theatre and marvel at the art and architecture of Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan. Continue to the Art Institute of Chicago for an architectural tour of the newly opened Modern Wing, designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Renzo Piano. View highlights from its modern and contemporary art collections. The balance of the afternoon is at leisure. Gather for a farewell dinner in an excellent restaurant.

May 29 - Millennium Park & The Loop
Set out on a walking tour near the hotel, including Millennium Park, one of the world’s most remarkable urban spaces, the Chicago Cultural Center with a magnificent interior and the largest Tiffany dome, and the Rookery Building. Return to the hotel for checkout before noon and take independent transportation to the airport for afternoon flights.

Tour Price*
Land Only: $2,995
Single Supplement: $595

Special Offer!
Mention Historic Hotels of America when booking your tour and receive three $100 gift certificates, each good toward a $100 refund when you book through and stay for at least two-nights at a Historic Hotels of America hotel.**

To book a tour please contact our tour VIP desk at +1 202 772 8000 or

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Terms and Conditions
*Tour price is per person based on double occupancy, with a minimum of 18 paying participants. For a single supplement add $550. Land prices are calculated as of September 2013 and are subject to change. Participants are responsible for all aspects of their air arrangements, round-trip into and out of Chicago.
Included in tour cost: Five nights’ accommodations at The Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago; Breakfast daily, two lunches, one reception, and one dinner; Chicago architectural river cruise; Leadership of Study Leader Rolf Achilles; Services of an experienced ISDI Tour Manager; Entrance fees for all included visits; Land transportation by private motorcoach; Gratuities to local guides and drivers; Taxes, services, and hotel porterage fees.
Not included in tour cost: Airline tickets, taxes and fuel surcharges; Airport porterage; Transfers to and from the airport; Personal items such as liquors and mineral water except where noted in the itinerary; Excursions, activities, or meals during travelers’ free time; Personal services; Travel extensions; Personal insurance for health, baggage, and tour cancellation; Gratuities for chambermaids; Any other items not specifically included.

**Maximum of one $100 certificate may be claimed for a refund with a minimum two night stay booked through following the return of your tour and completion of your hotel stay. The refund will be issued within 45 days of the completion of your stay upon submitting a Great Experiences & Tours $100 refund application. Refund application must be submitted with a copy of your hotel folio receipt, the original confirmation number from your booking on, and the Certificate number issued to you for booking your tour through Historic Hotels of America. Certificates issued are a promotion only valid toward future reservations made through and do not have any cash value. One certificate may be used per room per two night or longer stay at the same hotel. Eligible rates include rates publicly available at time of booking. Reduced rates, rooms included in another travel or tour package, employee rates, advance purchase rates, and certain last minute sale rates are not eligible for this promotion.