This article originally appeared at ChooseChicago.com/blog where I am a contributing writer.
The Chicago River flows across the city, crossing the downtown Loop. Famous for having its flow reveresed in the late 1800's, our 156 mile long river links the Great Lakes and the Mississippi. While you can always stroll along the beautiful Riverwalk, why not hop into a kayak, paddle a canoe, take a cruise, pedal a bicycle or even zip around in a water taxi? Here are five unique ways to experience the Chicago River.
1. Set Sail on a Seadog Cruise (and bring your dog along, too!)
The banana yellow Seadog, which jets off from Navy Pier, speeds along the lakefront then zips down the Chicago River. It's fast and furious at first, but then settles into a smooth river ride, making this the most kid-friendly architectural cruise of all. Bring your dog if you want, and expect to meet other friendly pooches on board. The funny guides share plenty of jokes but also plenty of river history. Tours depart from Navy Pier. seadogcruises.com
2. Speed off in a Surrey along the Riverwalk.
Why walk along the Riverwalk when you can speed off in a surrey? Wheel Fun Rentals has a Riverwalk location at 305 East Riverwalk where you can rent not just surreys but also deuce coupes and choppers. Count on getting a workout as you pedal your way along the Chicago River. wheelfunrentals.com/Locations/Chicago-2
3. Paddle a Kayak.
Hop into a single or double kayak and paddle your way along the river with the help of an expert guide from Kayak Chicago. This river outfitter offers tours, classes and rentals, as well as guided tours and individual and group instruction. Kids of all ages are welcome to ride along with an adult, but if they want to paddle a kayak of their own they need to be at least 12 years old. kayakchicago.com
Downtown options include Wateriders in River North and Urban Kayaks in the Loop along the Chicago Riverwalk. wateriders.com and urbankayaks.com
4. Hail a Water Taxi.
Jump into a Water Taxis for a cheap cruise of the Chicago River. The Chicago Water Taxi operates on the Chicago River, from March to December, carrying passengers between Chinatown and Madison Street on the south branch; La Salle Street, The Chicago Riverwalk at Clark Street, and Michigan Avenue on the main branch, and North Avenue on the North Branch. An all-day pass is just $8 on weekdays and $10 on weekends. chicagowatertaxi.com
5. Canoe the Quieter Stretches of the Chicago River.
Chicago River Kayak and Canoe, located at 3400 N. Rockwell on the city's North Side, gives paddlers a chance to explore a natural stretch of the Chicago River, where you just might meet a turtle or heron along the way. While you can rent a canoe, consider heading downstream on a River Rambles guided tour, which will take you to some of the quieter canals of the river. chicagoriverpaddle.com
Find more outdoor excursions with this guide to the sightseeing tour boats, or check out this Chicago bucketlist with 20 ways to cool off this summer.