Chicago Riverwalk is a pedestrian walkway along the south bank of the Chicago River in the city’s downtown core. It’s one of Chicago’s newest attractions (some parts are just opening this summer) and it’s already getting recognitions I think it deserves. Along the trail, there are restaurants, retail spaces, seating areas, kayak rentals and other attractions. Each block has its own remarkable style based on different river typologies and offers its own distinct components. For example, The Cove’s theme is “physical connections to water through recreation” and so this is where you’ll find kayak rentals and docking for other human powered watercrafts. I’m really impressed with the design and the materials used for the path system. You can read more about the design philosophy behind the project here.

Chicago RiverWalk
Chicago RiverWalk

Along with the city’s other top summer essentials, I think the Chicago Riverwalk is really one of the best places to spend a nice sunny day in the city. So what should you check out while there? Here are my picks:


City Winery Riverwalk:

What’s better than a glass of wine (or two?) paired with a magnificent river view? City Winery’s Riverwalk outpost offers rotating selection of wines and ciders that can be paired with their light menu of sandwiches and salads. It’s a very popular spot especially on a nice summer day, so plan accordingly.

Bridge House Tavern:

Eater Chicago lists this as the number one waterfront spot for a meal or drink in Chicago. Bridge House Tavern is also a great spot for people watching. I suggest making a reservation especially if you’re planning to go for brunch.



Urban Kayaks:

If walking along the path is not enough, why not kayak down Chicago River? Urban Kayaks offers several types of tours such as a historic Chicago tour and a sunset tour. If paddling on your own is more of your thing, you can also rent kayaks from them and enjoy the river at your own pace.

McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum:

Learn about the history of the Chicago River and the movable bridges of the city at this unique museum. The self-guided tour also includes a visit to the mechanical room that contains the machinery that moves the bridge up and down.

Kayaking in Chicago River

River Cruises:

If you’d rather see the river from a boat, Shoreline Sightseeing offers the quintessential architecture river tour of the city. Learn about Chicago’s landmark buildings as you cruise down the river. Note that the actual boarding location of the cruise is at Navy Pier. 

I think you should definitely add the Chicago Riverwalk to your itinerary this summer. For more information, check out Choose Chicago’s New Navy Pier and Riverwalk City Guide.

Need more reasons to head to Chicago? Check out the 13 Pictures That Will Make You Want To Visit Chicago This Summer

Chicago River cruise
Chicago RiverWalk
Chicago River

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  • Hi Tom! Great post and we LOVE the pictures. Nothing quite like the Chicago River in summer. Your readers might also be interested in the Riverwalk & North Loop tour that we offer through Free Chicago Walking Tours as well. We offer walking tours of Chicago’s most iconic neighborhoods and sites including the River, The Loop, Michigan Avenue & Millennium Park. Heck, we would love for you to come out on a tour and see for yourself how fun and informative they are!

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