Religious travel groups can see Chicago’s churches, temples and sanctuaries on the tour “Chicago’s Magnificent Churches” through Chicago Neighborhood Tours. One of the stops during the tour of “Greek Chicago” is the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, where groups will learn about the religion while seeing the sites of the Greek neighborhood, such as the National Hellenic Museum. The tour “Irish Chicago” stops at Holy Name Cathedral and Holy Family church. Groups will admire the Romanesque Baroque architecture at the St. John Cantius Catholic Church on the “Polish Chicago” tour. The tour of Devon Avenue includes the Angel Garden Croatian Catholic Church. On the Little Italy tour, religious groups will stop at the Pompeii shrine. The Hyde Park tour visits the St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church. These tours are held two or three times a year. Groups interested in customizing a tour should contact Chicago Neighborhood Tours.
Holy Name Cathedral offers walking tours, where religious travel groups can see such features as the resurrection crucifix suspended above the main altar, Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament, Cathedra (Bishop’s chair), Shrine of the Blessed Mother and the Gallery Organ. There is a free-will donation of $2 for adults and $1 for children. Religious tours are available at the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, about40 minutes from Chicago. Religious tour groups will learn about the Baha’i faith and can choose to meditate.
The Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago in Lemont also offers tours. The Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Oak Park was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1971. Tours are available at $8 per person. Holy Trinity Cathedral offers tours of interest to religious travel groups. It is the oldest Orthodox parish in Chicago. Tours at Moody Church feature Romanesque windows and arches, over 320 doors and curved seating so the pulpit can be seen from all seats. At Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica & National Shrine, religious group tours focus on the architecture, shrine history or the church’s place in worldwide Marian devotion. The Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, which went green and uses solar technology, gives tours of where religious tour groups can observe prayer areas and learn more about Islam. They also learn about the mosque’s programs for women, children and youth and about the foundation’s community involvement.
Try Wendella’s 90-minute Combined Lake and River Tour. See Lake Michigan and the Chicago River accompanied by narration. Religious groups will enjoy the two-hour, narrated Chicago Trolley & Double Decker Hop-On/ Hop Off Tour through 13 miles of downtown.
Religious Sites in Chicago
Visit St. James Cathedral, founded in 1834, and see the altar where President Lincoln prayed. It is home to the oldest Episcopalian congregation in Chicago.
Religious travel groups can see St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral by appointment only. The church has Neo-Byzantine baroque art and architecture. St. Michael’s, built for Chicago’s growing German community, was founded in 1852 and is located in today’s Old Town. Assumption Catholic Church, founded in1881 for the Italian immigrant community, features stained glass windows. On the University of Chicago campus, groups can see the architecture of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, which includes wood carvings, soaring stained glass windows and an 800-ton ceiling decorated with over 100,000 Guastavian tile pieces. The First United Methodist Church, the Chicago Temple, was founded in 1831 by Methodist circuit riders and includes an altar with a wood carving of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. Under the church’s Gothic spire is the Sky Chapel, where thousands of people make a pilgrimage every year. It is the world’s highest house of worship, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Take your religious retreat group to the Cenacle Retreat and Conference Center in Chicago, which is open for retreats of all faiths and nonprofit groups. The facility is adults only and can accommodate 80 people overnight. Groups can attend a Friday Shabbat Service at the Temple Sholom in Chicago or go to the Downtown Islamic Center to learn more about Islam and observe an afternoon prayer.
Popular Chicago Attractions
Groups can visit the Skydeck and Skydeck Ledge at the 110-story Willis Tower, (formerly the nations’ tallest building). At the 94th-floor John Hancock Observatory they can feel the Windy City on the open-air skywalk.
Check out Chicago’s museums such as the Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Shedd Aquarium and the Adler Planetarium. Stop at Navy Pier, where the famous Ferris Wheel is located along with many restaurants, exhibitions, places to shop and cruises are available. Take pictures of the metal sculpture Cloud Gate, “The Bean,” at Millennium Park. At adjacent Grant Park, see sites such as the Buckingham Fountain. Across from Millennium Park, religious tours can visit the Chicago Cultural Center, where over 800 free cultural programs are available every year. Annual festivals take place all across the city from the end of May until September. Some of the most popular include the Taste of Chicago, the Chicago Air & Water Show, Rib Fest, Lollapalooza and many other street festivals.