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Adventures Along The Chicago River

By Lauren Wulf

There's a lot more to the Chicago River than watching it get dyed green on St. Patrick's Day. The Chicago River offers great places to eat, drink and enjoy some time on the water. From walking to boating, there are some amazing hidden adventures to be found along the Chicago River.

Water Taxi
(credit: Lauren Wulf)

Water Taxi

The first thing you need to know about the Chicago River is how to get around. A cheap boat ride beats a cab any day in my book. There are two major water taxi providers in Chicago to help you navigate the river.

Shoreline Tours

Take a convenient Shoreline Water Taxi to see some of Chicago's top attractions in a whole new way. Docks are located at convenient, major sites such as Union Station, Michigan Avenue, Navy Pier and the Museum Campus. Shoreline Water Taxi service begins in May and runs through September with additional service throughout the fall and for special events.

Chicago Water Taxi

The Chicago Water Taxi operates on a closed loop route on the Chicago River shuttling passengers between Chinatown and Madison Street on the south branch; LaSalle Street and Michigan Avenue on the main branch. During the summer, departures and arrivals are scheduled on Monday thru Friday from 6:45 a.m. through 8:08 p.m., weekends from 10:00 a.m. through 8:30 p.m. and on Saturday nights until 11:00pm for Navy Pier fireworks.

kayak chicago

Kayak The River

Kayak Chicago
1220 W. LeMoyne
Chicago, IL

Kayak Chicago is located on the Chicago River, off North Avenue between Old Town and Bucktown. There are no reservations needed for rentals. Head out anytime during open hours and enjoy a day on the river. There's no need to be a kayaking pro. All participants renting kayaks will go through a rental orientation, teaching you paddle strokes, safety and rules of the water.

Kayak Chicago also offers architecture tours of the river. Travel through looming skyscrapers, learning the history of our river and the architecture of Chicago, all why trying not to flip your kayak.


Eat & Drink

All of that kayaking and boating is bound to work up an appetite. Get back on shore and try some of the city's best bars and restaurants along the river. Outdoor patios and rooms with a view, provide scenic locations to soak up the river.

Here are two places with great river views:

South Branch
100 South Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 546-6177

30 South Wacker Drive
Chicago, IL 60606
(312) 559-1515


Architecture Tours

If you feel like relaxing on a boat, floating down the river and taking in Chicago's beautiful skyline, you might as well learn a little something too. The Chicago architecture tours take you down the Chicago River, through the skyscrapers and historical monuments of the city. Most run Spring-Fall and have tours running in to the evening.

Here are a few to check out:

Chicago Line Tours
465 North McClurg Court

Wendella Boats
400 North Michigan Avenue

Shoreline Sightseeing
Gateway Park At Navy Pier

600 East Grand Avenue

Riverwalk Chicago


Lakeshore Drive To Franklin

If taking the river by water isn't your thing, tackle it by foot on the Chicago Riverwalk. The Chicago Riverwalk is a great place to enjoy Chicago, its history and its magnificent architecture. The Riverwalk features public walkways and seating areas along the water's edge, where visitors can enjoy incredible views of the Loop's canyon of skyscrapers, while watching the boats go by.

The Riverwalk also features attractions such as cafes, boat cruises, water taxis, bike rentals and tours, and crafts made by local artisans. The Chicago Riverwalk runs along the south bank of the Chicago River, from Lake Shore Drive to Franklin Street.

Lauren Wulf, CBS Chicago

Lauren Wulf writes about living in Chicago on a budget on her website, A Poor Girl's Guide Chicago.


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