Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Tour

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Clean, beautiful and fun to ride, Chicago trolleys give those San Francisco streetcars a run for their money. On this quintessential Chicago tour, you'll get the inside scoop on the city’s history and hotspots and get to take it all in at your own pace.
  • Adult gate price $35.00
  • Child gate price $16.00
  • Add to pass
(Apr. 4- Nov. 30 ONLY)

Sometimes there’s just not enough time to see it all on your own! Even if you dislike tours in general, you have to admit that an ‘a la carte’ tour of Chicago sounds pretty cool: taking you to the city’s most happening landmarks while allowing you to hop on and hop off whenever you want to spend a little more time at a specific place. You’ll not only learn the inside scoop on the city’s history and hotspots, but get to relax in an awesome Trolley bus or a brand new Upper Decker, which is very similar in style to the famous San Francisco streetcars.

The Gray Line Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley brings passengers on a scenic, customizable tour of the lakefront and downtown areas of Chicago, letting them embark and disembark at spots of their own choosing during a flexible time period of 8 hours.

You could board the 9:30AM bus, for example, ride for 2 hours and listen to some Chicago history and insights, decide to get off near the Wrigley Building at 11:30 to have a closer look, enjoy lunch there, and board the next bus that comes along at 1:00 PM to spend the afternoon relaxing and soaking up more Chicago facts.

Gray Line’s Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley leaves from the following locations:

  • Sears Tower: Jackson & Wacker
  • Palmer House Hilton Hotel: 55 East Monroe Street
  • Art Institute: Michigan & Adams
  • Navy Pier: Main entrance
  • Water Tower: Michigan & Pearson, SE corner
  • John Hancock Tower: Chestnut & Michigan
  • Hard Rock Café McDonalds: Clark & Ontario
  • Wrigley Building: 410 N. Michigan Avenue
  • Fort Dearborn: Wacker & Michigan Avenue

Sights you’ll see on this quintessential Chicago tour, in addition to the many attractions located near the stops above, include the Field Museum of Natural History, the Adler Planetarium, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Art Institute. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to customize your own tour of Chicago! Think of it this way—you’ll get a quick history lesson on all the sights you’ve heard about, then get to actually put a place to a name as you visit them. It’s so much better than taking cabs everywhere, and at the end of the day you’ll feel fulfilled having seen all the places on your checklist.

Reviews for Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Tour

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 3 out of 5 stars (based on 13 customer ratings)
Average Rating for Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Tour
0% of respondents would recommend this to a friend.
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Reviewed by 13 Customers Sort by:
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[1 of 1 customers found this review helpful]

Don't take this tour
By Frustrated traveler from From Boston, MA on
Pros:
None
Cons:
Many - See Comments
Bottom Line:
No, I would not recommend this to a friend

Comments about Smart Destinations Hop On Hop Off Trolley by Gray Line:

We were hopeful that this would provide a good introduction to the city of Chicago. The concept is good, but the execution was terrible. First, it doesn't run on time or to anything that resembles a schedule. After we validated our tickets, we were told the trolley just left and a new one would be there within 20 minutes. A half hour later they told us 5 more minutes. After almost an hour, a trolley finally arrived. We were now hopeful that the tour would be good. Unfortunately it wasn't. Our tour guide was more interested in telling us what celebrities slept in which hotels than anything interesting about the city. We were especially frustrated when he told us about the Rockie Balboa movie and running up the steps in Philadelphia (remember, we were in Chicago). Eventually we got off and chose to forfeit the rest of the stops, rather than listen to this nonsense anymore. Plus, there were signs all over the trolley saying the capacity was 30 people. That did not stop the driver from letting almost 50 people on the trolley. Not only was this dangerous, but it meant that we couldn't see any of the sites on the opposite side of the bus. DO NOT TAKE THIS TOUR. It's a complete waste of money.

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[1 of 1 customers found this review helpful]

Glad I didn't pay full price for this
By Melissa Verified Reviewer from Louisiana on
Bottom Line:
No, I would not recommend this to a friend

Comments about Smart Destinations Hop On Hop Off Trolley by Gray Line:

We purchased the Go a Chicago Card and used the Hop On Hop Off 2 days. The first day was pleasant enough, the guides were knowledgable and friendly. The second day was horrible, we had two different guides, for one it was her day and the microphone wasn't working properly for either. We were provided little information on the sights (complete silence as we passed Grant Park); when we were given information it was inaccurate and/or biased based on the guides feelings towards the store/restaurant/location. I would only recommend this if you had the ability to choose your guide ahead of time but based on how they run, that's not possible.

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[1 of 1 customers found this review helpful]

Terrible
By Uneasy rider Verified Reviewer from London on
Cons:
Waited Over An Hour No Signs For Stops Couldn't Hear The Guide Microphone Didnt Work Uncomfortable Trolly
Bottom Line:
No, I would not recommend this to a friend

Comments about Smart Destinations Hop On Hop Off Trolley by Gray Line:

I would not bother using this in the future, but would invest in a pass from the other local trolley service. We saw 6 of theirs while waiting for our trolley

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[2 of 2 customers found this review helpful]

Better than Expected
By Spider Vacation Verified Reviewer from Lenexa, KS on
Pros:
Easy to use, Convenient, Interesting
Cons:
A Little Odd,
Best Uses:
Get around town,
Bottom Line:
Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

Comments about Smart Destinations Hop On Hop Off Trolley by Gray Line:

We came in the fall so crowds weren't an issue anywehre. We saw a lot of poor reviews for the hop on/hop off trolley so our expectations were low, but we were pleaseantly surprised. We had two GREAT guides and one not so great. The buses came fairly consistently and were a good way to travel great distances. The good guides were very knoweledgable. Only issue was being unclear of WHERE the bus was going to pick up at some sites, but we figured it out.

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[7 of 7 customers found this review helpful]

Great concept
By Maggie Verified Reviewer from Illinois on
Pros:
Interesting Tour Guides
Cons:
Vehicles A Bit Crowded
Best Uses:
Traveling A Set Route

Comments about Smart Destinations Hop On Hop Off Trolley by Gray Line:

We used the trolley to learn more about the city and its buildings. We liked that it made a set loop with pre designated stops. We found the guides to be informative and funny. We had a problem on one day of our trip because a portion of the route in Chicago closed down while we were at a museum due to a soccer match at Soldier Field. We were not informed ahead of time that the route would be disrupted (and neither were many other customers) so we waited for about 45 minutes for a bus thinking they were delayed due to traffic. We finally called and were told to walk to a different area (10-15 minute walk) to meet the bus. 45 minutes and a couple of calls later the bus finally came. By that time it was too late to see the Art museum. We were very disappointed and didn't feel that we got maximum value from our GO PASS because of it. I find it hard to believe that the city wouldn't have informed the tour operators ahead of time that the route would be closed due to a pre-planned ticketed event. Gray Line should have been making announcements all morning to inform people of the change. If they truly did not know ahead of time they should have taken care of their customers by sending a representative to the bus stops to inform people of the situation. That said, I would consider using the service again but I would always ask about potential route disruptions ahead of time and call the phone number immediately if the bus is more than 10 minutes late. I would recommend it to friends but with an FYI about what happened to us. We had no problems on our first day with tour.

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[10 of 10 customers found this review helpful]

Mediocre at Best
By Nancy from Birmingham, Alabama on
Pros:
Cheaper Than Taxis
Cons:
Slow To Pick Up Only Buses No Trolleys Very Long Wait Times Only One Route Direction No Inside Seating
Best Uses:
If You Have No Schedule If Time Is Not An Issue
Bottom Line:
No, I would not recommend this to a friend

Comments about Smart Destinations Hop On Hop Off Trolley by Gray Line:

The description on this site is deceptive. My travel group (3 adults) traveled in mid-October. I was expecting trolleys but got only buses. And those buses only had up-top, open-air seating. In mid-October when it was 40-something degrees and very windy. The "trolley" route is in a loop with about 12 stops on the route. There are very few buses that run, so times between stops for pickups are very long, made even longer by the fact that buses will unload to let people take pictures for 5-10 minutes at many of the stops. If you're expecting this to be a transportation option that gets you around to the stops in a timely manner, this is not for you. I was beyond disappointed. This is also not a good option for families with small kids who might have strollers or lots of stuff, as well as elderly folks who have problems with stairs, because you have to climb a narrow set of stairs to get to the open-air top where all the seating is.

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[3 of 5 customers found this review helpful]

Great Tour!
By dorko135 Verified Reviewer from San Antonio, TX on
Pros:
Informational, Funny guide
Best Uses:
Feel for Chicago,
Bottom Line:
Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

Comments about Smart Destinations Hop On Hop Off Trolley by Gray Line:

We were in Chicago when they were filming Transformers 3, so the bus tour was all that more exciting. Our guide was a bit dorky but SUPER knowledgeable! He knew everything about everything and was never at a loss for words. I would highly recommend this tour bus line.

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[4 of 4 customers found this review helpful]

Only way to travel on a chicago visit!
By Farmeranne Verified Reviewer from West Virginia on
Pros:
Beautiful Views, Interesting guides, Ease of travel
Best Uses:
Cheap, For all interesting sites,
Bottom Line:
Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

Comments about Smart Destinations Hop On Hop Off Trolley by Gray Line:

As a tourist with limited time and budget, the Hop on Hop Off Trooley Tour was just what our family needed.

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[2 of 3 customers found this review helpful]

Great Way for a Chicago Overview
By Lizzie Verified Reviewer from Far West Chicago Suburbs on
Pros:
Ticket People were Great, Fun and Informative, Easy on-off, Avoid traffic, Convenient, Tour Guide on board
Cons:
Do Homework Before Blame,
Bottom Line:
Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

Comments about Smart Destinations Hop On Hop Off Trolley by Gray Line:

With Canadian Guests, wonderful quick way to tour beautiful Chicago. Informative On-Board Tour Guide. Get on/off at leisure/or not. On One fare, take the day to visit Chicago tourist attractions. Another set of Vancouver, Canada guests LOVED it. (Sorry about the whining Manitoba tourist, my home province.) Do your homework upfront for a most enjoyable day.

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[26 of 29 customers found this review helpful]

Very Inconsistent
By Jo from Canada Verified Reviewer from Manitoba, Canada on
Pros:
Free with Go Chicago Card
Cons:
Slow Not on schedule Inconsistent
Bottom Line:
No, I would not recommend this to a friend

Comments about Smart Destinations Hop On Hop Off Trolley by Gray Line:

Was in chicago for 5 days, used the trolley for the last 2 days and was not happy. Trying to get your "slip" to ride the trolley is hard enough with no hours posted for the "desk" and the fact that it is hidden in the back of a store on the main floor of the Palmer House Hilton, with no signage showing where it is! They always say "you just missed a bus and another one will be along in 20 minutes" and then you wait for 40 minutes. They almost made us miss our flight home because they, on the fly, deviated from the stop schedule missing our stop by our hotel and proceeded to Navy Pier and took a "smoke" break for 15 minutes! Then when we complained droped us off on North Michigan about 10 minutes north of the scheduled stop and so we had to run 20 minutes back to our hotel and we missed our shuttle to the airport! It's nice that it's free but don't rely on them to get you anywhere on time. Go Chicago should team up with another of the trolley companies in my opinion because this one is damaging their reputation.

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Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Tour Details

  • Seasonal attraction

Phone: 312-251-3100

Address
17 E. Monroe Street
Palmer House Hilton arcade office
Chicago, IL 60603
Hours
(Apr. 4- Nov. 30 ONLY)
Weather permitting: April 4–May 12: Tuesday through Sunday
May 13–Nov 30: Daily
Hourly departures from 9:30 am–4:45 pm.
Last tour stop leaves Willis Tower at 4:45 pm.

Between December 1 and April 3, please consider the Grand Tour by Gray Line while the Trolley is closed for the season.
Please call ahead to confirm schedule, as the weather may affect departures.

Note
The Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Tour is valid once per life of the card. Look for Gray Line tour guides, easily identified by their blue shirts. You must pick up your boarding pass at the Gray Line tour office located at the Palmer House Hilton. Boarding and leaving the trolley is permitted at designated stops only. You must pick up your boarding passes on the day you intend to use the Trolley only, not before. Your card will be activated when you pick up boarding passes. Tours are occasionally not operational due to special events outside of the control of Smart Destinations. The Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley is a tour and not recommended as a form of transportation.

Insider Tip: Pick up your 2-day boarding pass (available even with 1 day cards!) early in the day to maximize your usage.

Closings
December 1-April 3
Mondays (April 4-May 12)
New Year's Day
Easter
Thanksgiving Day
Christmas Day
All holiday hours are subject to change without notice.
  • Seasonal
  • Good for families
  • No parking available
  • No restaurant or snack bar
  • No restrooms
  • No disabled access
  • Reservations not required

Directions and Transportation

Address
17 E. Monroe Street
Palmer House Hilton arcade office
Chicago, IL 60603
Public Transportation
Take CTA: Blue Line to Monroe and Dearborn Street

Admission and Offer Information


Please present your Go Select Pass at the ticket office window. It will be validated and returned with a 2-day boarding pass for the Hop On Hop Off Trolley.

You must pick up your trolley boarding pass at the Gray Line tour office, located at the Palmer House Hilton or at the Gray Line Booth outside the Historical Pumping Station, located at 163 E Pearson. Boarding and leaving the trolley is permitted at designated stops only. Tours are occasionally not operational due to special events, outside of out control.

Note

The Grayline Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley does not run on Mondays.

The Hop-on/Hop-off Trolley is a tour and not recommended as a form of transportation. Factors such as traffic or weather can lengthen the amount of time between each stop so public transportation is recommended for travel to and from attractions.

Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Tour Packages

Save even more with these pre-built discount packages that include Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Tour bundled with other great Chicago attractions.

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