Best Places to Kayak in Chicago: 5 Great Ideas

kayaking in Chicago is a fun, challenging, and relaxing activity for people of all ages. America’s third-largest city provides just about whatever kayaking environment imaginable for people looking for an adventure of a lifetime and to hone their skills.

From a myriad of choices for tours, kayaking rentals, and trips, to quiet rivers and lush forests, Chicagoland should be on top of your list of future kayaking experiences. Here are a few tips and guides to help you find the best kayaking experiences in Chicago.

The first step in finding the right kayaking group in Chicago is to find out what kinds of tours and activities are available. Depending on which region you’re in, you may find that there are plenty of kayaking tours and adventure programs to choose from.

Paddleboard tours can range from beginner to advanced kayaking sessions, and you may be able to find guided groups kayaking along the lake. If you live in the northern area, paddle boats may be seen frequently passing through.

Kayaking in Chicago

Obviously, the most popular form of kayaking in Chicago would be to rent a kayak and paddle along with one of the large and wide-open lakes. There are countless lakes in Chicago, and kayaking the city is an opportunity for a fun day out and an opportunity to get a workout.

There are also numerous kayaking clubs that serve the Chicago area, many of them offering sailing and kayaking events that are open to the public. Most importantly, these groups can give you a feel for the sport and help you explore new places and techniques. Check out your local community center or local recreation department for details on kayaking programs.

If you prefer a little more excitement than a paddle along a slow-moving lake, try one of the Chicago Park District kayak programs.

Tours and Rentals

When in Chicago, try to find an adventure tour or tour company that offers rentals and group tours. Many adventure tour companies will offer group kayaking trips, private kayak tours, and guided canoe rides in the river.

Kayak Chicago offers a wide variety of groups. You can choose from groups that include families, school trips, families with kids, wedding parties, corporate events, corporate retreats, birthday parties, etc. The majority of groups do not need reservations and you can reserve spots online.

Check with the group tour providers at parks to see which rivers and parks they offer tours on. For example, the Chicago Park District offers kayaking trips along the lakefront, the river, and near beaches.

The Best Places to Kayak in Chicago

The most common river that the Chicago River runs through is the North Branch of the Chicago River, which runs from River North to the West Loop. From there it turns into the south branch, which begins in Lake Michigan and ends up in the South Loop. The lower river and port area are some of the most popular kayaking areas in Chicago.

The Chicago River

Fox River

Lake Michigan

Wisconsin River

Skokie Lagoons

Kewaunee County Park

According to the parks department, Kewaunee County Park is a quiet riverside area with plenty of shade and wooded areas for relaxation. The park has a ramp that can easily access the water, as well as a short, boardwalk that stretches out across the river. There are several groups that have kayaking tours scheduled here. It’s an excellent location if you’re looking to kayak in a tranquil, serene environment.


If you’re looking for a fun and relaxing activity that’s fun for your whole family, and something you can take on at any age, kayaking in Chicago is the perfect adventure for you! Now you can cross off another bucket list item on your Chicago bucket list and paddle a kayak in the great city that the windy city is all about. There’s never been a better time to visit and have fun exploring the dynamic and diverse outdoor opportunities available in Chicago.

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