Chicago Tour Company 2017 Year in Review

2017 has been a big year for our Chicago tour company! So, in the spirit of many social media-enabled nostalgia trips, we here at Chicago Detours wanted to share our biggest events with you. Think of it as our 2017 in review: looking back at what we accomplished this year and then getting ready for an even bigger and better 2018.

Detours by Boat

Thinking about 2017 in review, this will go down as the year that this particular Chicago tour company took to the waves. We’d dabbled a bit in boat tours in the past, but really got our feet wet (har har) in 2017. Amanda’s summer got eaten up with a ton of private group events on private yachts, including with Anita Dee Yacht Charters. She offered her services as both a guide and docent for families, friends, and corporate groups who wanted to see the nautical side of Chicago.

Chicago tour company yacht charters professional tour guide Amanda Scotese
2017 will be remembered as the year that our Chicago tour company took to the water.

On the QT and very hush-hush, some of our walking tour guides also got their sea legs this summer. A few of us were loaned out to lead river tours with Tours and Boats aboard the Summer of George boat. While it was not officially branded under Chicago Detours, having our tour guides lead these tours certainly did take up a lot of our collective efforts. The boat tours were also just a supremely fun experience.

Farewell, Pawel



2017 in review Chicago Detours Pawel Culture Ride
Our prodigal Private Tour coordinator, Pawel, left Chicago Detours this past summer.

Easily the biggest internal event of 2017 for our Chicago tour company was an unprecedented change to the staff. Our longtime Private Tour Coordinator, Pawel Skrabacz, left over the summer. He’s now four months into a round-the-world motorcycle journey called The Culture Ride. Pawel had been manning our private tour operations for almost three years. He was an awesome guide, a friendly presence in the office, and could book a tour with the best of ’em. To be honest, we rather dreaded replacing him. But the road was calling and he had to go. Though, wouldn’t you know it, we got our first-ever request for a private tour in Polish not a month after his last day.

Hello, New Friends

Howdy, Morgan!

It was quite a challenge to find job candidates with the right mix of professionalism, personality, and love for Chicago architecture and history. We like our employees to be able to both do tours and work in the office, and it’s a special mix of talents. On top of it all we also had record-breaking business while Pawel was heading to the exits!

We are happy to share that after many interviews, we brought on two wonderful new full-time tour guides and staffers. Morgan Lott has ably taken on the Private Tour Coordinator role since she joined us over the summer. She hit the ground running and has been using her witty humor, interpersonal skills, and generous personality to book a ton of adventures. Morgan actually lined up six private tours in one day last week!

Chicago Detours staff Marie Rowley
Hello, Marie!

The time also seemed ripe to expand our team even further. Looking at our work load, Amanda identified enough tasks to constitute a whole new role with our Chicago tour company. So, in October we hired Marie Rowley to be our new Public Tour and Marketing Coordinator. Marie just led her first Loop Interior Architecture Tour and has big plans for our social media presence going forward. We’re looking forward to even greater things from these ladies in 2018.

Holiday Happy Hour

Speaking of Marie’s handiwork, we hosted our first inaugural Holiday Happy Hour on December 12th. Public and private tour guests, business associates, friends, and members of the community stopped by our office to celebrate the season. It was a great little mixer, especially once we started sampling the spiked hot cocoa. The delicious snacks, including a hummus dip that yours truly couldn’t get enough of, were provided by FIG Catering. Morgan even showed off her newly-acquired guide skills by leading guests on a brief tour of the Monadnock Building. If you missed it this year, have no fear. We’re already looking forward to hosting another happy hour in 2018.

2017 in review Chicago Detours Chicago Tour company Holiday Happy Hour
Our swag table from the Holiday Happy Hour. Photo by Marie Rowley.

New Collaborator/Mentor

Early in this year, Amanda realized that Chicago Detours was getting bigger than she had imagined, and needed some guidance in growing our tour company. She has been working withCheryl Stoneking, a mentor from Score Fox Valley. Cheryl has an impressive background, including small business management and consulting and an MBA from the University of Chicago (also Amanda’s alma mater). Amanda appreciated Cheryl’s undergrad degree at Oberlin, a radical liberal arts college, and that her online photo was her standing by a mountain lake! She wanted to make sure she’d be working with someone who understands the creative approach of Chicago Detours.

fulton market food tour deli walking history Chicago tour company 2017 in review
Publican Quality Meats was just one of the gourmand stops on our new Fulton Market Tour.

Updated Fulton Market Tour

We revamped one of our private tours this year. In the past, we’d offered a “Meat History Tour” that went through Fulton Market. But that sizzling-hot neighborhood is changing very rapidly. To be honest, a lot of our content was no longer relevant. So in June we lead our inaugural “Factories, Galleries, and Calories Walking Food Tour of Fulton Market” for private groups only. This two-hour expedition visits everything from still-operational slaughterhouses to gleaming tech office and all the foodie spots in between. Amanda, Elizabeth, and Alex had the pleasure of hosting a corporate group and UChicago alumni on this outing in 2017. We plan to lead this Fulton Market Tour regularly to the public in 2018.

To 2018 and Beyond!

Chicago Detours had a year to be proud of. Our 2017 in review had its stresses, like they all do. But, overall, this was a superb run around the sun. We greatly look forward to more. See you in 2018!

– Alex Bean, Content Manager and Tour Guide


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Private Tour Coordinator and Tour Guide

There is no shortage of things to discover in Chicago—I love being an urban explorer and uncovering its hidden places. I have an MA in Public History from Loyola University Chicago, and I have worked as a museum educator and kindergarten teacher. My desire to learn new things fuels my passion for educating others, which I get to experience every day as a Chicago tour guide. I live in the northern neighborhood of Rogers Park.

“Our guide Ellen was exceptional and gifted with a great personal touch.”


Tour Guide

Whether you are a first-time visitor or a lifelong resident, the vibrant history and modern majesty of Chicago never ceases to amaze. I’m a graduate of Columbia College with an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Art. I’ve worked for many years as an educator at City Colleges of Chicago. As tour guide at Chicago Detours, I integrate my enthusiasm for culture and architecture with my passion as an educator. West Town/Noble Square area is home for me.

“Jen was a perfect storyteller and kept us spellbound for hours.”


Tour Guide

With our Chicago neighborhoods, vibrant cultural institutions and nearly two centuries of larger-than-life stories, there’s never a dull moment here! I’m a fifth generation Chicagoan and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to guiding tours, I’m a creative writer and amateur genealogist. I also enjoy the city’s dynamic theater scene. You can also read overlooked stories from 19th-century newspapers on my “Second Glance History” blog. I live in River North.


Tour Guide

Chicago is unique as it always evolves into the future while holding on to the past. I’m fascinated by how people latch on to old architecture but happily pave over others. My background is in theater and performance and I’ve been a tour guide here for more than 10 years. Currently I’m finishing my Master’s in Public History at Loyola University because I love to teach the history of this scrappy city. I’m in the Edgewater neighborhood.


Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

Chicago’s history is so fascinating, you could spend a lifetime uncovering its secrets…I’m willing to give it a try! I have an M.A. in US History from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and then pursued doctoral studies in Urban History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I love to learn new aspects of Chicago’s rich history and then share my knowledge as a tour guide with Chicago Detours. I live in Ravenswood.

“Marie was a bubbling fountain of information and contagious enthusiasm.”


Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

As a fourth generation Chicagoan, I have been living and loving Chicago by bike, on foot, public transit or automobile. I am a graduate of UIC where through the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, began my eagerness to understand the nature, history and impacts of urban planning and development. It is incredibly rewarding to give back to this wonderful city by helping out in the office of Chicago Detours. I live in the incredibly diverse neighborhood of Albany Park.
“Sonny was extremely knowledgeable about all things Chi-town.”
Wade K


Content Manager and Tour Guide

Chicago has so many neighborhoods, buildings, and by-ways that it’s hard to go long without seeing something new, or something familiar from a new angle. I studied Cinema History for my M.A. from the University of Chicago. I’ve worked as a culture writer for various publications and as an educator of the humanities at the City Colleges of Chicago. I’m thrilled to share my love of this city’s busy past and unique architectural spaces with Chicago Detours. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park.

“Alex was fascinating to listen to. He clearly knows his history and it shows.”
Katie K

Amanda Scotese

Executive Director and Tour Guide

I’m an interpreter of personal stories from the past and the city’s landscape. I love to imagine what originally happened inside old unmarked buildings, and what forces have shaped their design. I studied Chicago history, architectural history, and anything Chicago-related through my M.A. in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. My love for stories was enriched by my B.A. in Literature from the University of Michigan. I’ve written travel articles for publications like Rick Steves’ Italy best-selling travel guides, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and The Chicago Food Encyclopedia. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of West Avondale.
“You can TELL Amanda is hyper-passionate about doing the research and getting the story that nobody’s heard before.”
Shelby F

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