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There’s Still Time To Be The Captain Of Your Own Boat On The Chicago River

Chicagoans can steer a boat along the river through mid-November.

Boats motor along the Chicago River in the Loop on June 7, 2022.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Chicagoans can still rent a boat with buddies to cruise the waterways before colder weather sets in.

Boat rental companies along the Chicago River will continue to operate through mid-November, said Doug Jachimiec, director of operations for the Chicago Boat Electric Company. Rentals run 10 a.m.-10 p.m. daily and start at $150 per hour, Jachimiec said.

The company has five types of electric boats available outside Marina City, 300 N. State St. at the marina level; Sweet Home Gelato, 151-155 W. Wacker Drive, and City Winery, 11 W. Riverwalk S., along the Chicago Riverwalk.

People can also rent from Rockwell on the River, 3057 N. Rockwell St.

Boats are often available as the fall approaches, but Jachimiec suggests booking in advance online for weekend and evening cruises. Most boats fit at least eight passengers.

No prior experience is required to steer, but you must be at least 21 years old and have a valid driver’s license, Jachimiec said. There is an onboard registration and safety test drive with a crew member before boaters are set off on the river, Jachimiec said. People can also hire a boat captain or city tour guide at an additional cost.

People can bring their own alcohol, Jachimiec said. Reservations can run up to four hours at a time.

Boaters can travel the Chicago River up to DuSable Lake Shore Drive, but they cannot go on Lake Michigan, Jachimiec said. Boats can go up the North Branch as far as Montrose Avenue and down the South Branch as far as 22nd Street, Jachimiec said.

“We like to say the best way to see the city is from the water,” Jachimiec said. “It’s not limited to the weather because our boats are fully enclosed, so with the fall breeze you can still have a comfortable cruise on the waterway.”

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