Connecting Lake Michigan to downtown, the Chicago Riverwalk is an open-air pedestrian-friendly walkway that runs along the Chicago River. Composed of six main sections, the Riverwalk is a main hub for entertainment. Head to the Marina Plaza section for restaurants, outdoor seating, and boat access. Take a stroll through a series of piers and floating wetland gardens at the Riverbank, or head to the Water Plaza where the kids can splash in water fountains.
Some Chicago architecture tours and most Chicago River cruises at least pass by the Riverwalk. Walking tours offers a chance to learn more about its history and discover unique architectural gems. Admission to the Riverwalk and surrounding park facilities is free, making it an ideal place to visit for dining, entertainment, and outdoor activities. Its central location makes it easy to access by foot or bike from other popular nearby attractions, or via boat or kayak if coming from the lake or river.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Check the Riverwalk’s online calendar for the most up-to-date schedule of concerts and events, some of which require tickets.
- During the warmer months, it can be crowded with locals and tourists visiting for dining and entertaining.
- If you’re planning to rent kayaks or boats, arrive early to ensure a rental during peak times.
- The Water Plaza and River Theater sections make ideal locations for picnics.
How to Get There
If arriving by car, metered street parking is available and many private garages are located nearby. The CTA stops nearby and the Riverwalk is a short walk from the Union Station and Ogilvie Transportation Center Metra stations. Chicago Water Taxis cruise down the river and also stop on the Riverwalk.
When to Get There
The Riverwalk is open daily, year-round. If coming during the day, wear a hat and sunscreen as shade can be hard to find in some areas. The cold winters can make for a quieter atmosphere, but be sure to bundle up if coming during the colder months.
Explore the Riverwalk by Water
While it’s not suitable for swimming, the calm waters of the Chicago River are ideal for watersports. Tours ranging from small electric boats to big night cruises depart from the Riverwalk and sail down the waterway. For a more active experience, rent a kayak or jet ski to explore the area on your own.