Boating on the Northside

Get on the Water!

By Amari Norwood, Junior Reporter and Amir Farooq, Junior Reporter July 3, 2023

When thinking about Chicago’s great attractions you probably immediately think about Millennium Park, The Willis Tower, or the Museums. However, Chicago’s bodies of water might be its greatest recreational asset.  This includes the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. 

Although you've likely been to the river or lake before, have you enjoyed the endless possibilities there are? You've probably picnicked at the lakeshore, relaxed on the beach, taken a stroll down the water, even gotten in the water, but have you been ON the water.  

There are various ways to get on the water in Chicago and they provide a unique vantage point for viewing the beautiful city skyline and surrounding areas, and can also provide some exercise opportunities as well.  It is easier to get on the water than you might think, and it doesn't have to mean going downtown for an architecture cruise or hopping on the Seadog at Navy Pier.  There are great options right here on the Northside!

Rockwell on the River (3057 N Rockwell Street)
Captain your own electric boat on the river with Chicago Electric Boat Company. Its pretty easy to drive these things, but you can also hire a captain if need be. Have you seen those cute, retro boats by the River Walk? You can rent on of those here too! You can also rent a Duffy boat or a Donut boat to float around in. All cruises are BYOB. Think about a boat pass. Its like being a boat owner without all the work.

Chicago Boat Rentals (Goose Island)
Chicago’s top-rated gas powered boat rentals. You are the driver, which allows you and your group the privacy you deserve. BYOB and snack, or they can have your food and drink waiting. No Captain Needed - Easy to drive and private to your group.

River North Boat Club (900 N. Kingsbury)
River North Boat Club is a private club that owns a fleet of boats for members to enjoy. River North Boat Club cleans, refuels, and maintains the fleet. The club provides members with a boat ownership experience that is free from the hassles, responsibilities and high cost of owning. River North Boat Club is your friend with a boat.® Ask about any promotions. One of their promotions include a one time initiation fee to join the River North Boat Club, and then you choose from several flexible membership plans that match your interest, time, and budget.  

Chicago Sailboat Charters (400 W Belmont Harbor Dr.)
With many sailboats to choose from, Chicago Sailboat Charters can arrange the perfect sail to meet your wishes and fit your budget. Whether you are looking for a romantic sailing trip for two, or a sailboat for up to ten people, they are open every day of the week and will be sailing any time you wish from early in the morning until late at night. They offer both private and semi-private sails. 

Offshore Adventures Chicago (Boat departs from Monroe Harbor, but is operated out of Uptown)
Captain Rick is an experienced sailor that puts safety first. Charter his boat with your friends or join a private sail seven days a week. You are able to bring your own food or drink which makes the offshore adventure a perfect excursion.

Kayak Chicago (Montrose Beach - 200 W Montrose Harbor Dr.)
Hop on a kayak or stand-up paddleboard to chill on the lake and enjoy the summer breeze. Kayak Chicago has been Chicago's premier full-service watersport outfitter of kayaks, paddleboards, and electric boats since 1999. Rentals, tours, and lessons include your boat or board, paddle, personal flotation device (life jacket), and introductory orientation to paddling. They teach paddle strokes, safety, and rules of the water. Children under 12 years must be accompanied by an adult on a double kayak. No reservations are necessary for rentals, however they are recommended to secure a set time frame. Join them today!

Clark Park Boathouse (3400 N. Rockwell St.)
Located on one of the most popular stretches of waterway. This route between River Park and Clark Park, offers a quiet escape against the background of the city’s hustle and bustle. Rent single or tandem kayaks at the Clark Park Boathouse and paddle two miles north, passing Horner and Ronan Parks along the way. The abundance of deciduous conifers along the banks makes for a beautiful fall trip. In the spring and summer months, soak up the sense of seclusion beneath the river’s canopy.

Also note, The Chicago Park District’s WMS Boathouse at Clark Park is the premier rowing center in the city, with year-round training, low-cost community programs, and facilities unmatched in the region. The Chicago Rowing Foundation offers a complete rowing program for teens entering 6th-11th grades, regardless of previous experience. There is free lot and street parking.

Chicago SUP (Diversey Harbor)
Diversey Harbor and the Lincoln Park Lagoon boast consistently flat water in a variety of conditions and also offer a great view of the skyline! Chicago SUP is in a harbor and not on Lake Michigan, however several Event paddles do venture onto the lake! This is a great alternative to Lake Michigan on most days, especially weekends, and has the most consistent water for paddling in Chicago, making it perfect for lessons! They even have 2 and 4 week Youth Clinics.