The Chicago River

Chicago is known for its incredible architecture and the classic guided kayak tour is an awesome way to explore it. Having been on several tours throughout the city via busses, trolleys, and boats, I can say that there’s nothing like the view you get from gliding on the water. This city has enough history to fill a dozen tours, and every one I’ve been on has taught me fascinating facts about the city I call home. Even if you’ve already been on an architecture tour, don’t count out your chance to see the cityscape from the vantage point of a kayak. You’ll paddle past sights like the infamous “Corn Cob Towers” and the 4.2 million square foot Merchandise Mart — the largest commercial building in the world, (it even has its own zip code!).

A warm summer day is the perfect backdrop for this tour, but the lesser-looked-at sunset tours can offer stunning views of the city. On Saturdays, you can take a firework tour to catch the show at Navy Pier. If you’re not looking to stick with a guide and a tour group, there’s the option to rent kayaks from a few companies along the river. If you kayak this route, just stay alert. There’s lots of boat traffic along the river and it can get a bit chaotic on busy days; know the rules and follow them.

If you’re visiting Chicago and looking for an adventurous way to see it, this is the perfect option. You can soak in the towering architecture while floating down a lazy river flanked by wineries, restaurants, and gelato shops. Take note, this isn’t a city river known for its cleanliness, so you’ll definitely want to remain upright in your kayak, which shouldn’t be difficult as this is a tour most beginners will feel comfortable doing. Despite the less-than-stellar water quality, paddling the Chicago River is a wonderful way to explore a really beautiful city.

About the author

Delaney Erickson

Delaney Erickson

Adventure Addict

Delaney was born and raised an adrenaline junkie, she was skiing almost before she could walk. Ever since, she's continued to hone her adventure expertise on and off the slopes by taking up backpacking, kayaking, scuba diving, bungee jumping, and anything else that catches her eye.

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