Tours by Segway beat walking — and cover more ground

Chicago Segway tours are a way to learn more about the history of Chicago and to experience parts of the city most guided tours do not have time to cover on foot.

SHARE Tours by Segway beat walking — and cover more ground
Jenna Blauvelt and her mother Teresa, tourists from Springfield, Ill., ride Segways around Northerly Island during a Segway Experience of Chicago tour, Tuesday afternoon, July 27, 2021.

Jenna Blauvelt and her mother, Teresa, of Springfield, ride Segways around Northerly Island on July 27.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

A luscious field of flowers on Northerly Island tends to be ignored by most visitors and even locals, but one tour of the city makes it a highlight.

“This secret secluded spot was absolutely beautiful,” Nancy Calahan said after seeing it on her two-hour tour of Chicago.

All seven people on the tour cited this field as their favorite part, hands down. They never would have been able to reach that spot and all of the other locations on the tour, such as Buckingham Fountain and Soldier Field, if they had not been riding Segways.

Chicago Segway tours are a way to learn more about the history of Chicago and to experience parts of the city most guided tours do not have time to cover on foot.

Not only for tourists, Segway tours have become a great activity for Chicago residents since the pandemic began, said Shannon Morris, general manager of Magic Carpet Glide Segway Tours.

“While in years past we have had international tourists, this year we are seeing quite a bit of locals joining us, the staycationers,” she said.

Magic Carpet specifically offers a two-hour tour around Grant Park and along Lake Michigan, led by a tour guide and showing secluded spots such as the flower garden.

Tour guide Mike Perrino said each time he leads the tour it's a bit different, and he learns something new about Chicago. One of his favorite facts to share is that there is an average of one Dunkin’ per square mile in Chicago.

“We have been to Chicago many times and there were some surprises in the tour we never knew about or had seen before,” said Madison Linz, who took the tour with her father, David Linz.

Other companies, such as Absolutely Chicago or Bike and Roll Chicago, offer other tours throughout the city, most costing between $45 to $70 depending on the length and location. Some other tours include seeing the nighttime fireworks over Navy Pier or learning about the gangster history of Chicago.

Tourists ride Segways around Northerly Island during a Segway Experience of Chicago tour, Tuesday afternoon, July 27, 2021.

Tourists ride Segways around Northerly Island on July 27.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

“It’s a really beautiful way to see the skyline and learn about the best attractions, and about a lot of history that Chicago has,” Absolutely Chicago Segway owner Brittany Carswell said. “This is our way of opening Chicago’s front doors to any visitor and to locals.”

One of her favorite tours is the Insider Tour, where people learn about the “good, bad, weird and ugly stories of Chicago.” Carswell said a story she finds particularly interesting is about a man who lived under a Chicago River bridge for years, tapping the electricity from it to power everything from a space heater to a PlayStation.

While the history is fascinating, Carswell said, many guests also just have a great time riding Segways, a vehicle most people usually do not get to try out.

“I think the coolest thing about the Segway is it is multigenerational. I have 80-year-olds riding with their children and grandchildren,” Carswell said. “It is something that is hard to get with a lot of activities, something that a 12-, 20-, 50- and 80-year-old can all have fun together with.”

Tour guide Mike Perrino talks to Teresa and Jenna Blauvelt, Donna McElrath and Symphani Hollis in front of the Adler Planetarium on July 27, 2021.

Tour guide Mike Perrino talks to Teresa and Jenna Blauvelt, Donna McElrath and Symphani Hollis in front of the Adler Planetarium on July 27.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

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