Full array of Chicago dining, educational, cultural and recreational activities to be available this summer

May 22, 2015  

Mayor's Press Office

As part of his efforts to transform the river into a recreational frontier, Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced that phase two of the Chicago Riverwalk will open tomorrow, and also announced the lineup of vendors that will provide dining, educational, cultural and recreational activities along the waterfront stretch from LaSalle to Lake Shore Drive for the 2015 summer season. The exciting new lineup includes numerous dining options, live entertainment, biking, kayaking, cruises, boat rentals and water taxis. The Riverwalk will also offer live music later this summer through the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE).

"It's exciting to see the vision of the Riverwalk coming together and becoming a reality. It's a big step forward in making the river the next great recreational frontier in Chicago," said Mayor Emanuel. "Memorial Day Weekend has long been the unofficial start to summer in Chicago and I can't think of a better time to start to open up the Riverwalk so families can relax, have lunch or dinner and enjoy our great city."

Located along the main branch of the Chicago River, the Riverwalk is being constructed as a continuous walkway and recreational amenity connecting the lakefront with the heart of downtown. 

"The Chicago River is one of our city's greatest - and underutilized -- natural assets. I commend Mayor Emanuel's effort to connect the lakefront with the heart of downtown and to turn the valuable, underused real estate along the river into an attraction for city residents and tourists alike," said Senator Durbin.  "I supported TIFIA's expansion and am pleased Chicago seized the opportunity to tap the program for this valuable project. "

The newest section, which opens tomorrow, connects to the existing Riverwalk east of State Street to Lake Shore Drive. The three new sections are thematically named:  The Marina (from State to Dearborn) will feature a restaurant and area for boats to dock; The Cove (Dearborn to Clark) will offer rentals and other amenities for kayakers; and the River Theater (Clark to LaSalle) will connect Upper Wacker to the River through a series of steps and a ramp designed to accommodate wheelchairs and strollers. The Marina and the Cove are now open, and the River Theater will open in early June.

The final phase of the Riverwalk will begin this summer extending the River walk to Lake Street, with the following three themed sections: The Water Plaza (LaSalle to Wells); The Jetty (Wells to Franklin) and The Boardwalk (Franklin to Lake). 

The six new sections of the Chicago Riverwalk are financed through the U.S. Department of Transportation's Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (TIFIA) program.

The following dining and activity vendors are confirmed and set to open in the coming weeks.


LOCATION: Lakeshore Drive to Michigan Avenue

Will offer electric bike rental and guided tours
485 East Riverwalk South- adjacent to Lake Shore Drive


Urban Kayaks
Returning to the riverwalk, will offer kayak rental and guided tours
435 East Riverwalk South


Island Party Hut
Will offer island themed food and beverage as well as charter boat rentals and live music
355 East Riverwalk South- between Field Drive and Columbus


Wheel Fun Rentals
Will offer bike rentals for the entire family
305 East Riverwalk South- immediately east of Columbus


Cyrano's Café & Wine Bar
Returning to the Riverwalk, will offer French food and wine inspired by Monet's garden
233 East Riverwalk South- immediately west of Columbus


Mercury Cruises
Will offer Charter Boat tours in conjunction with the Chicago Architecture Foundation tours
112 East Upper Wacker Drive


LOCATION: Wabash Avenue

O'Brien's Riverwalk Café
Returning to the Riverwalk, will over food and beverage and live entertainment on Thursdays
45 East Riverwalk South- east of the bridge


Bike and Roll Chicago
Will offer bike rentals, guided tours on bike, foot and on Segways
316 North Wabash- the Upper Wabash Plaza near the Vietnam Memorial


LOCATION: The Marina- State to Dearborn

City Winery
Will offer food, drink and live music in the newly construction section of the Riverwalk
11 West Riverwalk South- State Street Side


Downtown Docks
Will offer transient docking for motorized recreational boats, allowing them access to the amenities on the Riverwalk
27 West Riverwalk South- Dearborn side


LOCATION: The Cove- Dearborn to Clark

Flanders Belguim Beer and Fries
Will offer Belgium inspired beers and food
55 West Riverwalk South- Dearborn side


Urban Kayaks
Will offer a kayaking outpost to allow paddlers a place to escape the busy downtown river

71 West Riverwalk South- Clark Street side


LOCATION: The River Theater - Clark and LaSalle

Wendella WaterTaxi
Will offer water taxi service on weekends
105 West Riverwalk South


In addition, DCASE will offer weekly music series and programming, which will take place later this summer; a full list of programming and events will be released in the coming weeks.

Mayor Emanuel's goal of making the Chicago River the city's next recreational frontier launched in 2011 with the construction of three new boathouses in neighborhoods throughout the city, as well as a fourth in the Bridgeport neighborhood that is set to be completed by 2016. The city's commitment to investing in increased recreational usage of the river ways is also evident in the recent expansion of Ping Tom Memorial Park that opened along the Chicago River, north of 18th Street at the edge of the Chinatown and South Loop neighborhoods. The park reflects the City's pledge to river development with a $6 million investment in new parkland, riverwalk, native plantings, topography, new vistas, boat landings and a "disappearing" staircase into the water.

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) has been working on the Chicago Riverwalk since East-West Wacker Drive reconstruction began in the 1990s.  The roadway was reconfigured to accommodate the expansion of the riverwalk to promote a pedestrian walkway and activate the space as a public amenity.  The East-West Wacker Project included utility build-outs for the future Riverwalk build-out for the entire length from Michigan to Lake Street. 


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