Winding its way through the heart of the Windy City, the Chicago River flows past some of the city’s most spectacular architecture, especially downtown. Here, river walks dotted with restaurants take you under some of the movable bridges that connect the Loop to Chicago’s Near North Side.
To see some of the prettiest views of the city, hop in a boat, kayak, canoe, or gondola and sail down the river. From the mouth of the river on Lake Michigan heading inland you’ll pass Navy Pier, Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower, Marina City, and the Merchandise Mart. Heading down the south branch, you’ll pass Union Station and the Civic Opera House.
One of the most spectacular events on the Chicago River is St. Patrick's Day, when the river is dyed green. The actual event does not necessarily occur on St. Patrick's Day and is scheduled for the Saturday of the closest weekend.
The Chicago River is best accessed by the Michigan Avenue Bridge, which lies at the foot of the Magnificent Mile, between the Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower. This is where you can rent kayaks and canoes.
Navy Pier is another place to hop on a boat for a ride on the river. This area has the most concentration of river walks and restaurants. All Loop points are accessible by buses and El train; parking is limited, so it’s best to take public transportation.
Tours & Tickets
Experience one of the world’s most beautiful cities on a 75-minute cruise on the historic Chicago River. On this architecture cruise, head down the main branch ... Read more
Duration: 75 minutes (approx.)
See classic Chicago sights with this Viator VIP package that includes early entry to the Skydeck in Willis (formerly Sears) Tower where you'll be greeted and ... Read more
Duration: 6 hours (approx.)
Experience Chicago on a walking and food tour of the central business district. Visits to legendary sites such as Palmer House Hotel, Marshall Field’s ... Read more
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)