You know you need to go on a Chicago cruise, but which one is best for you? Use this guide to some of our most popular boat tours to pick your experience.

Admire the architecture with Chicago’s First Lady

An architecture boat tour on the Chicago River
Catch an architecture boat tour on the Chicago River

Chicago First Lady tours resume July 3, 2020

Around the world, Chicago is known for its outstanding architecture, and it’s easiest to admire the city’s legacy from the water. By partnering with the Chicago Architecture Center, Chicago’s First Lady offers the most comprehensive tour of the skyline — docents must train 100 hours before they can lead tours.

Entertain the family with Wendella Boats

For three generations, Wendella has been cruising the Chicago water waters. With its variety of tour options, cruise times and lengths, and a heated, enclosed cabin, Wendella is a great choice for families looking for flexibility.

Wendella also offers a variety of cruise options, including lake & river architecture, sunset cruises, and more.

Speed across Lake Michigan on Seadog Boat Tours

Seadog Boat Tour

Are you up for a thrill? Race across Lake Michigan on SeaDog Cruises, featuring 30 minutes of high speeds and exhilarating twists and turns. Come prepared to get splashed.

SeaDog also offers lakefront speedboat tours and a river/lake architecture tour, featuring views of Chicago’s iconic Buckingham Fountain, Grant Park, Museum Campus, and more.

See it all with Shoreline Sightseeing

Chicago water taxi parked at Navy Pier

One of Chicago’s classic cruise options, Shoreline Sightseeing covers all the bases. Their ultra-popular Architecture River Tour takes you on all three branches of the historic Chicago River takes you past dozens of landmark buildings.

They also offer skyline lake tours, plus specialty cruises and holiday events. Hop on a boat at Navy Pier or on Michigan Avenue.

Dine on the water with Odyssey Cruises

Odyssey River Cruise

Odyssey dining cruises are the perfect way to create a memorable moment in Chicago. Choose from a river or lake dining cruise, complete with delicious cuisine, cocktails, and entertainment.

Their glass-enclosed river vessel is particularly stunning. It offers passengers panoramic views of the city’s most iconic buildings as you glide along the Chicago River.

Live in luxury aboard Free Spirit Yacht Cruises
Free Spirit Yachts

Looking to splurge a little? These private yacht charters are the way to go. The spacious yachts comfortably fit up to 49 or 120 people, making them the perfect option for a large celebration or an intimate gathering. Premium bar and catering packages round out the experience.

Explore the Chicago River with Urban Kayaks

Kayaking in Chicago

If you’re ready to ditch the captain and pioneer the Chicago River on your own, then it’s time to grab a paddle at Urban Kayaks. You’ll go through a brief training session before you hit the water, but you’re free to travel at your own pace.


Learn the city’s history with Chicago Line Cruises

Chicago Line Cruises tours are currently on hold; private cruises are available. Check their website for updates. 

Since Chicago was established by Jean DuSable, the Chicago River has played an important role in the city’s development as a whole. On this tour, see exclusive photos from the Chicago History Museum archives, review the history of the Great Chicago Fire, and listen to stories about how the city we know today came into being. Complimentary coffee, tea, and cookies are provided.

Chicago Line Cruises also offers Chicago Architecture, Cocktail, and Architecture and Firework Cruises.

See the skyline aboard Mercury Cruises

Mercury Cruises’s 2020 season is currently on hold. Check their website for updates. 

While Chicago’s summer fireworks are already fun to watch, it’s an entirely new experience when you’re on a 3D tour. Before the show, you’ll cruise around the lake and see some of Chicago’s famous landmarks.

Mercury Cruises also offer Urban Adventure, Canine Cruises, and Chicago by Night tours.

Check out Chinatown via Chicago Water Taxi

Chicago Water Taxi Boat Tour
Chicago Water Taxi

The Water Taxi service is temporarily suspended due to COVID-19. Check their website for updates.

Hop on! The Chicago Water Taxi is a fun and cheap way to get around Chicago. The Water Taxi stops at Ogilvie Transportation Center, Chinatown, Goose Island, the Chicago Riverwalk, Michigan Avenue, and River North. Get a one-way ticket for $6 or an all-day pass for $10. Check their daily routes and schedules for more details.