As a Verlocal Ambassador, I joined Chicago Detours for their 1893 World’s Fair Tour (with Bars and Food!) recently. Since I was visiting Chicago from Boston, I thought this is a good opportunity to learn more about the city, see some architecture, and eat and drink at the same time!

This was one of Chicago Detours’ offerings on Verlocal, and I partly chose it because it offers food and drinks as part of the tour. Now, the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago was actually held at Jackson Park, but this tour takes place in downtown Chicago. The reason for that is that most of the buildings in Jackson Park are no longer there, except for the Fine Arts building which now houses the Museum of Science & Industry.

On the other hand, since all the travelers that came to Chicago by train to visit the World’s Fair had to come through downtown, there were many buildings here that were established for the fair-goers. These include hotels, restaurants, theaters, and many of them still stand today.

Inside the Congress Plaza Hotel

One such hotel is the Congress Plaza Hotel, where we started the tour. I don’t want to divulge too much so there will be surprises in store when you take the tour yourself, but there were a number of buildings around downtown that played a role during the World’s Fair.

Auditorium Building

The guide pointed out some architectural landmarks, including works by architect Louis Sullivan. Sullivan has been called the “father of skyscrapers” and was once the boss of Frank Lloyd Wright.

We stopped for some snacks and beer at Berghoff’s, which was established in 1898.

Even though the restaurant opened after the World’s Fair, Berghoff was actually selling his beers during the World’s Fair. One of the beers we tasted still use the original family recipe.

Beers at Berghoff

The snacks we had at Berghoff was actually pretty substantial. If you’re a light eater, it could be enough for a small meal.

Another thing I liked about this tour was that it’s not just a historical or eating tour. They interspersed games like trivia and scavenger hunt to keep us engaged and active! We ran up and down two buildings to search for clues and at the same time learning more about life in 1893.

Our last stop was the Chicago Athletic Association, which now houses a few bars which were all very popular and crowded. They have good cocktails here, so you might want to considering ordering one while you’re there! Plus, thanks to being on the tour, we managed to get a quiet seating area in this crowded place.

Chicago Athletic Association

I really enjoyed my time at the 1893 World’s Fair Tour. We got to go inside and learn about some beautiful buildings, hear stories about life at the turn of the century, and eat and drink! Not to mention the scavenger hunt and trivia games which kept us even more engaged. Chicago Detours is a locally owned (and woman-owned) company that is doing a great job with their tours. When you next visit the Windy City – or even if you live there – I would recommend taking one of their tours. You can book this tour on Verlocal here.


Don’t forget to share with us how great your own city looked in the past!

If you are curious about how the city you live in or are visiting looked like in the past, take a time machine with these experiences in your city!

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