- 566 Ratings
Chicago Architectural History Kayaking Tour
Explore the history of downtown Chicago on a kayaking tour that gives you a duck's-eye view of the city landscape. Cruise past architectural marvels as you paddle your way down central waterways for a scenic adventure.
What You Will Do
- Learn about the architectural history of Chicago while weaving your kayak through the city's rivers and canals
- Get a crash-course in kayaking from a knowledgeable guide to learn basic skills, strokes, and safety rules
- Put your newfound skills into action by launching your kayak into waters surrounded by towers of glass and steel
- 3-hour guided kayaking tour
- Brief kayaking lesson
Choose single or double boats upon arrival. Please arrive 15 minutes prior to departure. Bring sunglasses, sunblock, a hat, and a waterproof bag to protect your camera Dress for the weather. Lightweight, synthetic clothing is best.
- 566 Ratings
A fantastic informational and fun trip. David was extremely knowledgeable and we had a great time discovering Chicago from a very different view. David was very friendly and, most importantly, very thorough regarding the participants' safety. I would highly recommend this tour with Kayak Chicago if you want to do something a little adventurous and out of the ordinary. Dr. Ajit Korgaokar
Our guide (Bubba) was the perfect mix of historian, comic and coach. My group thoroughly enjoyed the adventure. I worried about being able to get in and out of the kayak and he made sure I did so with my pride intact.
Our guides were great! Very knowledgeable and focused on our safety!
Welcoming & friendly, thank you!
The intructors were awesome!
Tour guides were very knowledgeable about the city's history. Overall, they were very patient with new kayakers and friendly.
Tour guides were great, made it fun and exicited. Would come again for this great experience.
Great kayaking trip on the water, best way to see Chicago amazing buildings while out in the air and staying fit. Super instructors and guides. .well done guys.
- Ashley Marie
Kayaking the river was fantastic! Mike provided patient instruction and excellent information about the architecture that can be seen from the river. We would highly recommend this to anyone that wants to experience Chicago from a unique vantage point.
A great way to see the city and a perfect way to spend a Saturday morning. Thank you for the experience.
Customer Service was wonderful. Experience was wonderful. Guide was wonderful. Value was wonderful.
This tour is great for beginning kayakers. Most of the tour is spent kayaking, with 3 or 4 stops to present architectural history and landmarks. The tour guides are very professional in the aspect of boating safety, while the architectural tour is entertaining and informative. We had a great time!
I would've liked a few more architectural comments.
10/10 would recommend! It was my first time in Chicago and it was a perfect way to start the day and see the city! We went on the 10am tour Friday morning with Matt and Brian (Westy?) - they were excellent. They spoke up, were funny, made me feel safe on the kayak, and knew a ton about the city. The actually facility is in an industrial part of town that backs up to the water so when you drive up and feel lost don't worry, you're in the right spot haha. The leaders all came out with blue Kayak Chicago shirts asap to tell you you're in the right spot. I have never kayaked in my life, and it was a breeze - they do a lesson at the beginning and it's very easy to pick up. Nobody fell out or capsized, I promise. haha. I consider myself a fairly active person but I wouldn't say it was an overly intense workout, you definitely get your muscles going, but I did not feel sore the next day. For anyone with lower back or knee problems, I would only caution about sitting in the same position for 3 hours, I was fine, but my knee was a little sore when I first got out of the kayak so anyone with more severe issues I would just check with your doctor (obviously, haha). But overall, easily the best "touristy" thing we did in Chicago, already recommended it to my friends, and I will definitely come back and do it again. Who knew I'd love kayaking so much!?
This is a great way to get to know a little about Chicago. This excursion was fun and good exercise. I liked hearing about the local lore and stories behind some of the buildings. Everyone in my group had a fantastic time. While the description says it's for all levels, I think at least a little paddling experience would be helpful. I am in good shape but I found it challenging due to the length of the paddle-3 hours. Also, for those without paddling experience, you may want to recommend singles rather than doubles, because it's harder in a double to coordinate your efforts and try to listen to instructions/keep up with the group/try not to get run over by a barge and enjoy the experience rather than be overly focused on the paddling. The pre-paddle lesson was very good. The guide "Xorro" was excellent as were those assisting to keep the group together and safe. One of the group went 'into the drink' and staff handled it calmly and within a minute was able to help the person back into the kayak without any drama or panic. I will definitely recommend this excursion to others visiting Chicago, and I would definitely do it again if I ever have the chance to go back. Thanks for a great day!
It was a great kayak learning experience. Learned a lot about kayak navigation and its application in different water currents.
Bryan "Wesley" was so helpful, patient, and kind during the entire trip. I could not be more grateful and I could not be more satisfied with what a great experience it was!
We had an awesome time on our tour!
Our guide, Bubba, was great! Funny, nice and very helpful.
All staff were approachable, professional and great guides. The tour is informative. Make your way south from Goose Island to the main branch. Beautiful tour. The tour was long. Luckily I had brought my own water and snacks in my kayak. Its informative on the website that the tour is three hours - would have been a great bonus to have the staff supply a dollar bag of chips/granola bar or complimentary bottle of water considering the duration of the tour and cost. If visiting Chicago and willing to do a little physical activity, this tour is nice. I would say there are some tours that start right off the river walk further east on the river but you don't get as much time on the water.
Fun way to see the city, especially on a nice summer day! Just don't drink the water.
Matt, Brian, and Claire are awesome...great team, great experience...Go Do IT!
Really good tour! Lots of fun. It was more strenuous than I expected - maybe this should be mentioned beforehand!
1) The guides were competent, humorous, & knew the info on the buildings. The river was busy when we went, & the guides kept us safe and moving. 2) I had a friend cancel, then I had to reschedule my tour. In both cases, Kayak Chicago gave good customer service and helped me address these problems.
Crew did a great job keeping a large group together and moving! We learned a lot about Chicago architecture!
Guide was super friendly and made the tour fun. thanks for a great experience!
Great tour!!! Our guide Matt was fun and very knowledgeable!!!
Awesome trip. I didn't master the kayaking skill in the first mile and was lagged behind, one of the tutors towed me to help me keep up with the group. Thank him so much!
This tour was great! Highly recommended! What's especially neat about it is that you start the tour outside of downtown, at the turning basin, and paddle into downtown. So you get to see and learn about a wide range of historically and architecturally significant buildings, rather than only the skyscrapers you can already easily see from the River Walk downtown, and we saw quite a bit of wildlife on the less-urban part of the tour, such as 2 types of herons, cormorants, and turtles. The tour guide was knowledgeable and friendly, the how-to-kayak session before the tour was simple and straightforward and yet was more helpful than any other similar introductory training we've received on other kayaking excursions. You don't need to be in amazing shape to do this tour, but do know that it's about 5 miles of paddling. For me (someone who is moderately active), the trip was about 1 mile or so longer than what would have been ideal, both because my muscles started to get tired, and also because there's not much in the way of buildings to look at the last mile or so as you paddle back through the canal. But then again, that area is where we saw some of the most interesting birds, so it does have its perks, too. In conclusion, we loved this tour and would do it again in a heartbeat, and think there are definitely some advantages to doing this tour over doing one through a company that never leaves the downtown area.