The four best paddle tour outfitters on the Chicago River:
If you think Chicago is big now, try experiencing it from atop an eight-foot kayak bobbing in the middle of the Chicago River. Today, it’s easier than ever to get a water-level view of The Windy City’s iconic skyscrapers, landmarks and shoreline. As you glide along the city’s downtown channels, informed guides will not only teach you paddling techniques and water safety procedures, they’ll provide plenty of fast facts about the city’s legendary history and magnificent architecture. You’ll gaze up in wonder at Willis Tower while navigating the network of iron bridges that constitutes the most extensive mobile bridge system on the planet. Whether you shove off on a dawn paddle, strap in for a twilight tour or park your kayak under the Navy Pier fireworks display, you’ll see a side of Chicago that few before you have experienced.
When planning your Windy City waterway paddling adventure, be sure to check out these top local outfitters.
First, pick your vessel. Your choices include single and double kayaks, single sea kayaks, whitewater kayaks and stand-up paddleboards (Montrose Beach only). While no previous experience is required for recreational kayaks, an introductory class is mandatory for sea kayaks and whitewater kayak rentals. Private and semi-private classes are offered out on the open water and in a pool for those who want to get their feet wet, but not too wet. Once you’re comfortable enough to hit the water, a wide range of tours is offered.
Chicago River Canoe & Kayak
Telephone: (773) 704-2663 (Chicago)
(847) 414-5883 (Lagoons)
(224) 415-6554 (Busse Lake)
Whether you have an hour, an afternoon or an entire day, there’s no better way to escape the Windy City bustle and distractions. Grab a kayak and paddle and explore a pristine, winding tributary of the Chicago River, where herons spike the water for fish and sleepy turtles sun themselves on shoreline rocks. Guided tours for all interests and abilities include Skyscraper Canyon trips through downtown, Sunset Dinner trips at the Lagoons and River Rambles on quieter nearby streams. There’s also a weekday evening cardio kayak for paddlers seeking a workout.
Whether you want to grab your own kayak and paddle out alone or join one of their many group tours, this award-winning outfitter has been getting folks out on the water for more than 15 years. It’s all about good, green fun in a safe, comfortable environment. In addition to the Classic Chicago Kayak Tour, they offer the Shady Chicago: Ghosts And Gangsters Of Hustlertown (gets a little PG-13 rated at some points) Tour and a Navy Pier Fireworks Chicago Kayak Tour.
Phone: (312) 965-0035
Phone: (312) 965-2113
Phone: (312) 965-0035
Whether you’re seeking a guided paddling excursion on the river or an adrenaline pumping workout on Lake Michigan, the Windy City’s ultimate outdoor adventurer has it all from three convenient locations. Guided group tours include a Sunset Tour on the Chicago River’s main branch, a paddle through Chinatown, and the brand-new Paddle for Pints tour, which caps off a 90-minute tour of historic Chicago with a visit to a nearby pub for drinks and dinner.