** Wateriders of Chicago provided a complimentary kayaking tour for this post about kayaking on the Chicago River. All opinions are my own.
One of my Chicago summer bucket list items this year was to go kayaking on the Chicago River. I have wanted to do this the past two summers, but we have not been able to do so yet. Chicago summers are a dizzying blur of events and happenings, so it’s easy for time to escape without being able to cross off everything on your wish list. Not this year!
I set an intention to finally try this and to have more date nights with Graham, and Wateriders helped me accomplish that by inviting me on a sunset kayak tour on the Chicago River. We had the option to do a fireworks tour (Wednesdays and Saturdays during the Navy Pier fireworks in the summer), which I still want to do sometime, but the sunset option worked best for our schedules. They also offer a Ghosts and Gangsters tour (among others) that looked interesting.
Don’t worry about finding parking near the river. Wateriders validates parking at a nearby garage. (We paid $5 to park for a few hours, but you could also try Spothero.) You can also use the restrooms at the East Bank Club before the tour. The dock is located behind the club, so you just walk toward the bridge and there’s a sign next to the stairs leading to the dock. When you check in you can grab a plastic bag if needed, as well as store your belongings if you don’t want to bring them. You also need to grab your life vest and hear the safety training and rules of the water. It’s super important to stay to the right when kayaking on the Chicago, because you’re sharing the water with lots of other water vessels. Also, you can request either a single or double kayak, depending on your preference. Graham and I went with the double.
Getting into the kayak is nerve-racking for me, but the guides hold onto it for you so there’s no need to worry. From the moment we got on the water, the views were incredible. It’s a completely different angle of the city that you don’t get to see often. We just soaked it all in and took it easy on the paddling. We took a sort of T-shaped route along the river before returning, and the entire kayak tour lasted about two hours.
My favorite views were when the sun finally set and you could see more of the lights.
|View of Merchandise Mart from the kayak.|
I highly recommend this sunset kayak tour; it’s been one of my favorite experiences on the river so far. Watch my video below to see more of the tour!
What to bring: Clothing that you don’t mind getting wet, a jacket if you get cold, water, and a waterproof camera (such as a GoPro) if you want photos! Be careful, though, if you do bring any electronics, as you risk losing them.
If you are interested in kayaking the Chicago River on your own, check out these budget kayaks under $1,000.
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Marette Flora is the founder of Floradise blog and personalized gift shop. Marette is a passionate storyteller and creator. She attended the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University and obtained a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication.
She is passionate about creating helpful and meaningful things.