CHICAGO (CBS) — For more than 80 years, Shoreline Sightseeing has been showing off the city by boat.

“This is a family business. We’ve been doing this since the 1930’s. Now it’s my brother and me,” said Matt Collopy, owner, Shoreline Sightseeing.

Guests board at the Chicago River for their Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture Tour (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)

And this year, Trip Advisor has named it the most popular tour in the United States. According to the travel site, the Chicago attraction tops a list comprised of the most popular tours with the greatest amount of traveler interest between March 2016 and March 2017.

The top tours ranked on TribAdvsor’s most booked tours in the United States based on TripAdivsor’s attractions data includes:
1. Chicago Architecture River Cruise, Chicago, Illinois
2. Grand Canyon West Rim and Hoover Dam Day Tour, Las Vegas, Nevada
3. Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour, Las Vegas, Nevada
4. Muir Woods, Giant Redwoods and Sausalito Half-Day Trip, San Francisco, California
5. Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Tour, San Francisco, California
6. Big Apple Helicopter Tour, New York City
7. Big Bus New York Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
8. Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Guided Tour, New York City, New York
9. San Francisco Hop-on Hop-off Tour
10. Las Vegas Helicopter Night Flight, Las Vegas, Nevada

Matt Collopy, part owner of Shoreline Sightseeing. (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)

“I was positively Gobsmacked when I heard it. I couldn’t believe it. We were up stiff competition. New York City, the Grand Canynon, Vegas, Muir Woods, Napa Valley, we beat them all,” laughed Collopy.

The business began with two wooden speed boats that traveled back and forth from the Aquarium to something called the Aquarama.

“It was an old ship, a tourist attraction that sat out at the far end of Navy Pier. It was an old ship and they had restaurants and music and other things and they had little wooden speed boats and they would drive you out and back. My uncle and his brother,” Collopy said.

“If you want to go for a boat ride, we’re likely open,” said Matt Collopy, stating that Shoreline Sightseeing is open from March until the end of November. (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)

Since then they’ve grown to 18 boats and 5 ports.

“We do 75-minute architecture tours, 40-minute classic lake tours which depart from Navy Pier and then we have water taxis that go from the Museum Campus to Navy Pier and then from Navy Pier to Union Station.”

Collopy said they cruise from March until the end of November.

“If you want to go for a boat ride, we’re likely open,” he said.

All Aboard! A Shoreline Sightseeing captain ready for her next cruise. (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)

Shoreline Sightseeing employees 50 people year-round full time and 350 season employees.

“I would’ve never dreamed our company could’ve grown like it has. This beautiful city helps us succeed, the architecture and all the old buildings and the new buildings that keep popping up,” Collopy said.

“So exciting to know we are the number one tour in the country,” said Jim Collins, docent. “This doesn’t surprise me. We do a little bit of what I call ‘edu-taining’ which is a nice mix of good education about the architecture of Chicago. People walk away with a new understanding of Chicago but we do it in a fun and entertaining way.”

New this year is an Illinois-Made cruise which features food and drink from restaurants and distilleries from across the state.

Passengers preparing to board one of the Shoreline Sightseeing boats for an architecture tour (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)

“On Aug. 4, we’re focusing on Illinois made products, food and beverages. Blaum brothers whiskeys and vodkas out of Galena, Whiskey Acres Distilling company from Dekalb, St. Nicholas brew company from DuQuoin is serving their craft brews and the Tangled Roots breweries will also be featured. This is a good way to bring Illinois’ hidden treasures to tourists here in Chicago.”

Shoreline Sightseeing also offers daily Spanish speaking tours. For more information and tickets log onto

Wendella Boats and The Chicago Architectural Foundation also offer similar boat tours.

A Shoreline Sightseeing boat travels through the Chicago River. (WBBM/Lisa Fielding)