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Chicago River Kayak Tour

star-4.575 Reviews
Chicago, United States
icon2 hours 30 minutes  (Approx.)
Mobile ticket
Good for avoiding crowds
icon2 hours 30 minutes  (Approx.)
Mobile ticket
Good for avoiding crowds

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icon2 hours 30 minutes  (Approx.)
Mobile ticket
Good for avoiding crowds


Set your paddle into the Chicago River on a leisurely 2.5-hour kayak tour past the skyscrapers of downtown Chicago. Both novice and experienced kayakers will be at ease on this excursion past sights such as the Civic Opera Building and the Marina City Towers. Hear fascinating tales of the Windy City as you gaze at a stunning architectural landscape from the water, just how the original Chicago natives originally navigated the area!
  • 2.5-hour kayaking tour on the Chicago River
  • Learn about Windy City history, and admire its famous architecture
  • View iconic sights like the Merchandise Mart, the Wrigley building, the Civic Opera building and much more!

Why Travelers Choose This Tour

A Chicago River kayaking excursion provides an intimate and active alternative to the city’s many boat tours.
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Professional guide
All required equipment: kayak, life vest, paddle
Hotel pickup and drop-off
Food and drinks

Departure Point

500 N Kingsbury St, Chicago, IL 60654, USA

Departure Point: Chicago Riverwalk behind the East Bank Club, address: Riverwalk 500 N Kingsbury Street Chicago, IL, 60654 Address: Chicago Riverwalk 500 N Kingsbury Street Chicago, IL, 60654 Parking is 360 W Hubbard Street, Chicago, IL, 60654. Directions: Chicago Riverwalk behind the East Bank Club, address: Riverwalk 500 N Kingsbury Street Chicago, IL, 60654 Parking is 360 W Hubbard Street, Chicago, IL, 60654.

Return Details

Returns to original departure point
Make your way to way to the Riverwalk at the East Bank Club, where you’ll meet your guide for some paddling instruction. When you’re ready, snap on your life vest and get situated in your kayak.  Both single and double kayaks are available.

Then set off through the downtown segment of the Chicago River. While you paddle along, behold a magnificent panorama of landmark buildings casting their reflection into the shimmering waters, bordered by a beautifully landscaped riverside promenade. Pass under a procession of articulated ironwork bridges that make up part of the largest movable bridge system in the world. 

You’re treated to a unique perspective on some of America’s greatest 20th- and 21st-century architecture, including Willis Tower. Learn from your guide why one particular structure's floors were built crooked, and hear about Chicago’s storied history, including tales from the natives who first paddled the river to the rampant capitalism that shaped the city

Your leisurely kayak tour concludes with a return to the launch point.
  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Maximum passenger weight for kayaking is 275 lbs (125 kg)
  • Please try to avoid wearing cotton clothing, as it gets very heavy if it gets wet
  • No alcohol allowed
  • OPERATED BY Wateriders Chicago River Kayak Tours and Rentals
You can cancel up to 24 hours in advance of the experience for a full refund.
  • For a full refund, you must cancel at least 24 hours before the experience’s start time.
  • If you cancel less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time, the amount you paid will not be refunded.
  • Any changes made less than 24 hours before the experience’s start time will not be accepted.
  • Cut-off times are based on the experience’s local time.
  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund.

Learn more about cancellations.

Traveler Photos


75 Reviews

Reviews by Viator travelers

Showing 1-8 of 75 reviews
Supposed to be the highlight of my trip…biggest disappointment
, Oct 2021
I got a text message at 7am stating due to potential weather the tour was cancelled. It seemed a little premature to cancel so early. Our tour was scheduled to leave at 1pm and it did not rain until around 4pm. We would have been off the water at 3. To add salt to the wound…seeing an Urban Kayak tour at the time we were supposed to have gone. I question if the cancellation was weather or staffing related.
Amazing gift for my girlfriend
, Sep 2021
This is a must do add for your trip to the windy city! Derrick and his team were amazing and made the entire trip on the river so enjoyable. I booked this as a surprise for my girlfriend who loves kayaking and she LOVED it. Heading into this I was a little nervous to go kayaking on the river because of how busy it can be with the other boats, however wateriders made the tour seamless and carefree. I am now confident to kayak solo on the river from all the tips and information wateriders gave me during this tour! Highly, highly reccomend!!!
1 traveler found this review helpful
, Aug 2021
Tour guide was awesome!! Always wanting to kayak the Chicago river and was well worth it. First time learning to kayak and the guides were very helpful.
Very friendly and experienced Crew
, Oct 2020
Me and my friends had a great time. The Guided tours where very nice guys. They where very understandable to the fact that most would be new to kayaking Never lost there cool . VEARY friendly to everyone. Love that that the lead guy Remember every ones name (though I can’t remember his 😥) and we where a big Group At lest 15-20 people, so I was very impressed. Me and my friends where new to kayaking so we where way behind but they have a spotter that helps the Slower and less experience. His name I remember. Matt: he was great. Very very nice. Talked to like a friend would. You can tell both guys really enjoy there job and meeting new people. Even the crew on the deck were very nice guys! Also in this time of coronavirus they followed all guidelines which I wasn’t expecting. After we return from our Tour they disinfect everything your ors, life-vets, and The whole kayak. The only complaint I have is; I wish they would give us a way to tip them. There was no tip Bucket or a way to tip from Credit card. Keep up the good jobs guys!!!!!
Better than a boat tour.
, Sep 2020
Fun experience with a healthy dose of adventure. Guide was knowledgeable and very attentive to safety.
Too much traffic!
, Aug 2020
South Branch of Chicago River is too busy with traffic which makes for underwhelming kayaking experience.
icon Response from Host , Aug 2020
Hi Masha, Wateriders apologizes that you had a poor paddle experience. The Chicago River is the second busiest waterway in North America, second only to the Panama Canal. Wateriders gives every guest a paddle lesson to understand how to control your kayak and a safety orientation to understand the rules of the river to ensure our guests' safety. For future reference, we now have a second location located 4 miles northwest of the downtown area. Our Rockwell on the River location has no commercial traffic, rarely private traffic, free parking and amenities on site! Our Rockwell location would be perfect for a serene paddling experience! Sincerely, Wateriders
A blast
, Aug 2018
Joel our tour guide did a fantastic job. His depth of knowledge with his enthusiastic way to present it made it magnificent. It was perfect. Thanks guys.
Really good time. Heaps of helpful...
Sally P
, Aug 2016
Really good time. Heaps of helpful guides, fun trip

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