Optional Trips

Monday, June 26, 2017 – 4pm to 6:30pm

We are offering four optional trips to visit top-ranked Chicago attractions. You can select and pay for the trip via the registration form. Starting at 4pm, please gather at designated place next to the Forum for pickup by bus.


  1. Skydeck - Price: $39 pp


    The Skydeck is an observation deck located on the 103rd floor of the iconic Willis Tower building (formerly known as Sears Tower). The Willis Tower, a corporate building of 110 floors, is the second tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. The Skydeck experience not only offers spectacular views of Chicago, but also immerses visitors in museum quality multi-media exhibits celebrating Chicago’s rich history and culture. The Skydeck is the highest observation deck in the United States and includes the Ledge - glass boxes that extend out 4.3 feet from the observation deck. The glass floors of the Ledge assure a clear unobstructed view 1,353 feet straight down! The Skydeck and the Ledge attract 1.7 million visitors per year. On a clear day, you can see four states – Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan.

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    Willis Tower The Ledge

Chicago Trolley or Chicago Double Decker Bus Tour - Price: $10 pp


Enjoy a Chicago Highlights sightseeing tour on a Chicago Trolley or a Chicago Double Decker bus. The classic red and green trolleys can seat up to 36 people. If more than 36 participants sign up, an open top Chicago Double Decker bus will be used instead. The two hour tour of iconic Chicago landmarks and attractions will be led by knowledgeable and entertaining driver guides. The tour takes you from the Willis Tower to the Water Tower, from River North to Chicago’s Museum Campus, from Millennium Park to Navy Pier, and lets you discover Chicago, past and present.

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Trolley Open Top Double Decker Bus


  1. Chicago Architecture Foundation Boat Tour - Price: $56 pp


    The Chicago Architecture Foundation’s (CAF) cruise along the Chicago River is a popular attraction for Chicagoans and visitors alike. CAF-certified volunteer docents narrate the history and special features of more than 50 buildings along the river. In ninety minutes you will find out how Chicago grew from a small settlement into one of the largest global cities in less than 100 years. You will also get a spectacular overview of Chicago architecture and its history, particularly the growth and development of its world-renowned sky-scrapers.
    CAF Boat Tour (Photo by Adam Alexander Photography)

IIT Mies Van Der Rohe Architectural Tour  - Price: $13 pp


    The Illinois Institute of Technology is home to the largest groups of buildings designed by architectural modernist Mies Van Der Rohe. The Mies Van Der Rohe Society at IIT will offer this docent-led tour of the legendary and influential architects’ buildings at IIT. The tour will include his masterpiece, S.R. Crown Hall, a National Historic Landmark, and highlight the relationship and history of Mies with IIT. IIT remains a living museum and laboratory for modern architecture. You will also have the opportunity to visit campus buildings by current architectural stars of modernism, Rem Koolhaas and Helmut Jahn.
Crown Hall Helmut Jahn designed dorms CTA stop

Friday, June 30, 2017 – 9:30 am to 11:30am

We are offering optional trips to visit two innovative and eco-friendly businesses in Chicago.
You can select and pay for the trip via the registration form. Starting at 9:30am, please gather at designated place next to the Forum for pickup by bus.


Plant Chicago - Price: $31 pp


Plant Chicago is a working model for closing waste, resource and energy loops. It operates out of an abandoned 93,500 square foot industrial space and former meatpacking plant. The facility was repurposed into a collaborative community of food producing businesses that are committed to materials reuse and closed loop systems. Plant Chicago will eventually divert over 10,000 tons of food waste from landfills each year, while providing enough electricity to power over 250 homes. During your tour, you’ll see some of the Plant’s closed-loop tech demonstration projects up close, like an aquaponics farm and algae bioreactor. You will also view food production spaces for tenants at The Plant, including a brewery, British-style bakery, mushroom farm and others.

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Closed-loop model The Plant


Method - Price: $31 pp


Method is a state-of-the-art green soap factory located in the historic Pullman District on the South Side of Chicago. Method’s goal is to run an enlightened business that balances profits with environmental and social responsibility. The factory incorporates wind power, recycling and natural ingredients into its manufacturing method. The tour of the facility will highlight the efficient process of producing cleaning supplies, packaging and shipping in a single facility, thus reducing transportation costs. You will also visit the 23-story wind turbine and two rotating solar panels outside of the building, which fulfil a major part of the factory’s energy needs, and the massive greenhouse on the roof, said to be the largest in the world.

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The Method Factory Factory Floor  (Picture by Antonio Perez, Chicago Tribune)  



Exelon City Solar - Price 31 pp


Exelon City Solar is the largest urban solar power plant in the United States. It is a 9-megawatt solar installation located on a 41-acre brownfield in Chicago's West Pullman neighborhood.  Its 32,292 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels generate enough clean, reliable electricity to power up to 1,500 homes per year.  The power plant uses SunPower​​®solar tracking systems that tilt the panels toward the sun as it moves across the sky, increasing energy production by up to 25%.


The clean energy generated by Exelon City Solar displaces more than 30 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year - the equivalent of taking more than 2,500 cars off the road. In developing the former industrial site, which had been vacant for over 30 years, Exelon removed pollutants and safety hazards and beautified the property with an environmentally friendly design and sustainable landscaping.
Method soap factory