Picture the entirety of Chicago’s lake shore spread out before you, your eye taking in every building and feature on the land. You’re on an expertly sailed cruise boat, bobbing along the great inland Lake Michigan and slowly prowling from amazing site to site; the museums, the skyscrapers, the beaches and Navy Pier all revealing themselves to you from a side even the locals rarely get to see. If you prefer a nautical adventure, if you value your sea legs over strolling the concrete sidewalk jungle, this is the way to take in America’s great heartland city.
Or perhaps you want to take the closest possible view of the great city. A number of tour operators offer expert river tours. You’ll get a close-up narrated tour of all the great skyscrapers and events that took place in the city along the Chicago River.
What’s a cruise boat tour without some fun and food along the way? Many of the tours include beverage options, such as beer, wine, and cocktails. Your drinks may be accompanied by a delicious plated meals, buffet, cheese samplers, or even finger-licking BBQ. While you enjoy refreshment, the cruises may include a DJ or jazz combo; larger boats could include a dance floor where you can shake your tail feather or slow dance with a loved one.
You can take a cruise at any speed you like. While a tall ship isn’t going to move too fast, you’ll enjoy the leisurely, history-laced journey over the waters. On the other end of the spectrum, a cruise may offer speedboats that whip across the lake at breathtaking speeds. Whatever speed water trip you choose, be mindful of the potential for seasickness. Sometimes a little Dramamine or even a shot can help those with tender tummies on these cruises.
Chicago Boat Tour Companies
- Tall Ship Windy: Return to the exciting sailing days of yore by exploring the shore by tall ship accompanied by fireworks or concerts.
- Chicago Line Cruises: This cruise offers fun with cocktails, jazz, architecture, and glimpses of the Windy City’s past.
- Odyssey Cruises: If you enjoy plated meals, dance, or are shopping for a wedding on the water, this Chicago cruise service has it all.
- Seadog Cruises: If you are you up for a full 360 degree spin or a speedy race up and down the shoreline, look no further.
- Shoreline Sightseeing: With more cruise ships than their competitors, this service offers narrated river and lake voyages with architecture and fireworks highlights.
- Spirit of Chicago: With interior decks, dance floors and lounges, a DJ, and delicious buffets, this operator focuses on experiences on the water.
- Wendella Sightseeing: This longest-lived cruise operator offers well-informed narrated tours, private events, and cruises featuring beer and BBQ or wine and cheese.
- Chicago Architecture Center: With a strong focus on architecture, this river cruise can combine travel with a visit to the Chicago Architecture Center.