Chicago Tour Company Cheers to our New Website

Note: Our current website was built by the Langley Group.

This dynamic website, designed by Studio of the Month, will help us fulfill our mission to share Chicago history and culture through our public walking tours and private tour programs. Many exciting developments are happening with Chicago’s newest tour company, which just launched this past summer! Register your email address with us to get special offers, updates from Chicago Detours, and tidbits about cool Chicago-centric events (we send just a few times a year). Also come check out the newest tour, “The Loop: Explore Without Freezing,” an exploration of interiors. It’s free November 26 and 27!

A bit about the new blog: We will delve into histories of the real people and places of the city, and give you a taste of Chicago Detours’ style. For our walking tours, we dig through archives to come up with histories in places that not even the locals know about. We believe that history is best explored with a creative approach, and we’ll use the blog to share some of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into curating a tour. I say “curating” because we creatively compile a unique collection of stories, quotes, poems, photos and video clips (seen with an iPad), making the experience more like a mobile exhibit than a lecture.

As someone who likes to tour Chicago-whether you live here, come for vacation or business-you are likely well-travelled and educated. Do you seek out authentic, culturally enriching, and fun experiences when you travel? Chicago Detours may be your kind of thing, even if you normally wouldn’t think of taking a tour. Let me explain. Some people have a negative view of tours because of ugly tourist stereotypes… fanny packs, loud voices, shopping bags. That kind of tourist makes no effort to get to know the city or its people, and he or she does activities that no local would ever do–like ride a tour bus or eat at a chain restaurant on the Mag Mile. But then on the opposite end of the visitor spectrum, you have the super independent traveler who wants to wander by foot and public transport, but still has little insight into the history and culture they are passing by. A tour guidebook gives them some surface explanation, but really this style of travel doesn’t necessarily immerse a visitor in the real Chicago either.

The ugly tourist is not curious and the independent traveler is but would benefit from guidance. Chicago Detours offers tours catered to curious people—we bring people together to see hidden sides of the city’s past and present. Our tour guides add rich commentary and visual accompaniments that fill in where both styles of travel fall short.

I‘ve learned from six years of working as a tour guide with Rick Steves’ tours that a good tour guide catalyzes the kinds of connections with local life that make travel meaningful. Chicago Detours is a new kind of Chicago tour company. We want to inspire memorable, thought-provoking interactions between people, history, the city, and media. We welcome any kind of curious local or visitor to Chicago to join us.

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Ellen

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.”
Robert
GetYourGuide

Jen

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.”
Heather
TripAdvisor

Elyse

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.

Anthony

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.

Marie

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.”
Lorit
TripAdvisor

Sonny

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
TripAdvisor

Alex

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
Yelp

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
Yelp

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