Aquatic Explorations

Feature Photo by Rob Lee

You’re walking along with your headphones set to “city volume.” Maybe you’re heading to the Art Institute or the beach. It really doesn’t matter because odds are that on one of these trips you walked over a bridge. The Loop alone has eighteen bridges spanning the Chicago River. Although highly convenient and necessary, bridges have one failing: they isolate people from what lies below. Well, here’s a chance to become a part of Chicago’s water culture. Below are three ways to have your own aquatic adventures.

One if by Kayak
You don’t need to be an athlete to enjoy an activity like this. Tons of newbies grab an oar to take a ride along the Chicago River, Skokie Lagoons, and Lake Michigan with a group and a guide. Chicago River Canoe and Kayak offers a variety of outings including cardio classes, moonlight dinner tours (for couples), and lessons. You don’t even need to own your own kayak or canoe! You can rent one $15 an hour. Tandem kayaks cost a bit more. For $50 another company, Kayak Chicago, will take you on an architectural tour for three hours (no experience needed). You’ll learn about the buildings, the first settlers, and mobsters.

Two if by Boat
There are so many boating companies in Chicago with so many types of activities you’ll not be left wanting. If you’re into architectural tours, lakefront sightseeing, or just urban adventures a Chicago boat tour may be right for you. Among the multitude, Mercury is a company that stands out from the rest offering funny and kid-friendly rides. Beginning May 14th Buccaneer Bob will be set a metaphorical sail onto Chicago’s Lakefront and River for a Wacky Pirate Cruise. Made especially with kids and parents in mind this 60 minute cruise will teach its passengers some interesting facts about the city and how to tie some nautical knots! Pirate bandana included (no joke) and a recitation of the pirate oath is mandatory upon departure. Mercury also offers a Canine Cruise. Contact them at (312) 332-1368 for more information.

Here is a great resource to help you shorten the list of boat and cruise companies in Chicago.

Three if by Water Taxi
The Shoreline Water Taxi is yet another way to see the city by water. There is a highly practical idea behind Shoreline’s business: to shuttle commuters around the city. Commuter trains operate between Union Station/Wills (…Sears…) tower, the Michigan Ave. bridge and Erie Street. There are also two other routes Shoreline offers. The Lake Taxi ventures into Lake Michigan from Navy Pier to Museum Campus. This ride will take you far enough away from the shore that you’ll be able to see the entire Chicago skyline. The River Taxi shuttles sight-seers from Navy Pier to their Union Station stop in the Loop or the Michigan Ave. bridge (check their website for flag stops). Turn a mundane task into a chance to see our city from an alternative point-of-view. Hop aboard one of Shoreline’s eight aptly named boats. Among them is the “Vamos” and the “Andale, Andale.” Round trip commuter tickets purchased at the kisosks only cost $3 round-trip.