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  • Address: The Loop
  • Hours: Open daily
  • Admission: Free

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.

Practical Info

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

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Chicago Architecture River Cruise

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 530 Reviews

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

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Duration: 75 minutes (approx.)

From USD $31.75
$35.56 Save $3.81

Viator VIP: Willis Tower Skydeck Early Access, Trolley City Tour and Chicago River Cruise

4 star rating: Recommended 8 Reviews

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

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Duration: 6 hours (approx.)

From USD $124.00

Tastes of Chicago Walking Tour: Chicago-Style Pizza, Beer, Cupcakes and Hot Dogs

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 7 Reviews

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

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $54.45

Chicago City Tour and Chicago River Cruise

4 star rating: Recommended 49 Reviews

Discover Chicago from both land and water on this scenic half-day tour. Take a narrated coach tour through the city’s South Side and see highlights including ...  Read more

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Duration: 4 hours (approx.)

From USD $58.00

Lake Michigan and Chicago River Architecture Cruise by Speedboat

4.5 star rating: Recommended 74 Reviews

Chicago is renowned for its stunning and original architecture, and the most relaxing way to see it is on a cruise on the Chicago River! You'll learn all ...  Read more

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Duration: 75-minutes

From USD $37.06

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