We asked our tour guides “What is it like to be a tour guide in Chicago?” and this is the first of many candid responses we received:
“Being a tour guide is like a recurring show-and-tell for adults. I get to re-live that excitement I had bringing my favorite rock or favorite song to elementary school and having my 2 minutes of sharing glory. As a tour guide, it’s a pretty similar experience: I get to show people all of my favorite parts of Chicago on our mini adventure. As a super-fan of the city and an amateur history buff, being a tour guide is one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.
No matter who is on the tour, it’s great to see the reactions on people’s faces change as they start to fall more in love with the city as the tour continues. Many people enjoy our tours from all areas of the globe and also from our own backyard. Groups can range from a mini-United Nations to people that I grew up close to in the suburbs. When we first go out, I make sure we take time to introduce ourselves and where we are from. This creates a friendship between everyone so we all don’t feel like strangers riding around together.
I am a performer, and recently at the end of some of my tours I took time to advertise a cabaret show I had coming up with my girlfriend at a great spot in the city. On the last night of a two-day run of the show I actually had a family from a tour the week before in the audience. It was quite a joy see them there! Sometimes it’s hard to say goodbye because you feel like hanging out with your new friends more, so it was nice to have a little reunion at the cabaret.
If I had known how much I would enjoy being a tour guide, I feel like I would have done it years ago. Taking tours in Chicago is a great way to become acquainted with the city, enjoy being outside on something familiar (a bike) or something probably new (a segway), and get an insider connection with great places to eat or attractions to go see.”