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The Best Boating Trips Near Chicago

By Meredith Lyons

Chicago's proximity to Lake Michigan makes it ideal for land-locked water lovers. When the November witch has settled down and the city's summers start to simmer, there's nothing better than escaping the humidity on open water. The city's best boating trips offer that and so much more with extras and amenities that make each trip like a mini vacation.

Chicago Line
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Chicago Line Cruises
465 N. McClurg Court
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 527-1977

Price: $40 per adult/$35 per senior/$22 per child older than 7/free children 6 and younger

In one of the most architecturally diverse cities in the country, tours of Chicagos towering marvels are best done from the deck of a boat. Chicago Line Cruises offers morning tours with complimentary coffee and muffins and evening cocktail tours for boozers who want to watch the city sparkle. It also offers a shorter tour of the Chicago River alone or combined with river and lake tours. All ages are welcome, and the frequent tour runs accommodate just about any schedule. Enjoy Fireworks Cruises during the summer months as well.

Red Witch
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Red Witch Tall Ship
Burnham Harbor
599 E. Waldron Dr.
Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 469-0233

Click here for prices

For an added feeling of nautical history, take a cruise on a tall ship. The Red Witch is Chicago's only wooden tall ship and offers both day and night sails. Guests are invited to relax and enjoy the ride, or help hoist the sails if they are feeling active. Basic soft drinks are provided, but guests are allowed to bring their own refreshments if they would like. Enjoy private or semi-private cruises — the crew can accommodate most trips longer than two hours. Ask and the awesome staff here will take care of just about any request.

Related: A Chocolaty Tour of Chicago

KingFisher Charters
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Kingfisher Charters
Belmont Harbor
3600 Recreation Dr.
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 919-9544

Click here for prices

If you're looking for something slightly more active than simply gazing out over the water at the skyline, book a fishing trip. Kingfisher Charters offers three boats available to fit schedule. There is a six person maximum on each boat due to Coast Guard regulations, however, so plan for a party. All tackle and gear are provided at no extra charge, and the crew is there to help you out if you've never been fishing before. Guests may bring their own food or have the boat cater for them for an additional fee. Feel free to take advantage of its no fish policy: If you don't catch any fish, your next trip is free.

Mercury Skyline Cruiseline
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Canine Cruise
Mercury Cruise Line
The Riverside at Michigan and Wacker
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 332-1353

Price: $12 per adult/$10 per child younger than 12/$7 per dog

Nothing beats a 90-minute cruise with the whole family, including that salty dog of yours. Mercury Cruise Line offers Chicago's only Canine Cruise, showcasing dog-friendly hotels, parks and restaurants. Water bowls and a newspaper-line bathroom for pups as well as the option of sitting just about anywhere on board make this the perfect pick for pooch-lovin' people. No reservations necessary; tickets are available the morning of the cruise.

Wendella Boat Tours
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Wendella Boat Tours
400 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 337-1446

Click here for packages and pricing

Perhaps one of the most popular and prolific boating options in Chicago are the Wendella Boat Tours. Wendella offers everything from architectural tours to wine tastings and sunset cruises. The Wendella tours are available for any type of private event or corporate outing, and also offer accommodation for school trips and other group outings. Snacks are provided on each boat tour, but guests are allowed to bring their own refreshments as well.

Related: Best Places to Rent a Bike in Chicago

Meredith Lyons is an actor, competitive fighter and fitness instructor in Chicago who also owns an amazing cat named Jake. Meredith has been writing on Examiner as the Chicago Martial Arts Examiner since 2008. Her work can be found at


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