4.5 star rating: Recommended 1261 Reviews

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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 816 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
$33.60 Save $1.85

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

4 star rating: Recommended 25 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

Best Lake Michigan and Chicago River Architecture Cruise by Speedboat

4.5 star rating: Recommended 93 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

Chicago Grand Half-Day Tour

4 star rating: Recommended 202 Reviews

This comprehensive half-day tour of Chicago is the perfect introduction to the Windy City! Discover the highlights of Chicago’s North Side and South Side and ...  Read more

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

From USD $47.99

Chicago Architecture Boat Tour by Night

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 11 Reviews

See Chicago by night and learn about its rich architectural history on a 75-minute evening sightseeing cruise along the Chicago River. Explore three branches ...  Read more

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

From USD $29.00

Chicago City Tour and Chicago River Cruise

4 star rating: Recommended 58 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

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

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 17 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

Best Chicago City Tour with Optional River Cruise

4.5 star rating: Recommended 29 Reviews

Don’t miss Chicago’s famous sights and fabulous views on this award-winning small-group sightseeing tour of the city. Travel through Chicago with an expert ...  Read more

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Duration: Varies

From USD $36.99

Chicago River Kayak Tour

Explore the beauty of downtown Chicago from the water on a relaxing 2.5-hour kayak tour. In either a single or double kayak, you'll paddle along the Chicago ...  Read more

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes (approx.)

From USD $65.00

Chicago Riverwalk Parks and Architecture Segway Tour

Experience a unique cruise along the Riverwalk on this fabulous Chicago Architecture Segway Tour. Enjoy Chicago’s iconic bridges, parks, and skyscrapers. View ...  Read more

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Duration: 2 hours (approx.)

From USD $70.85

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