Best time to visit Chicago

Lake and River Cruises in Chicago 2024

Whatever cruise you choose, Windy City won't leave you unsatisfied

Best time: April–November

Lake and River Cruises
Lake and River Cruises
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You may explore Chicago by land and air, but nothing compares to watching it right from Lake Michigan or the Chicago River. Outstanding architecture and memorable skylines of the city are better observed from water. Dozens of different cruises depart every day from Navy Pier and offer all kinds of experiences. But architecture-themed cruise shows the best gems by the Chicago River. The tours usually run from April to November.

Legendary Seadog Lakefront Speedboat will suit those who love extreme and fun rides. With the speed of light, it passes the Magnificent Mile, Lake Michigan, Grant Park, and many other places. Night Skyline looks fascinating from a Fireworks cruise. And Sunset Dinner Cruises have either an all-you-can-eat buffet or gourmet meal onboard, as well as music and cocktails.

The average ticket price for a short trip starts from $20. More luxurious cruises like Odyssey Chicago River, Spirit of Chicago, or Wendella cost from $50 to $300 per person.

Practical info

When is the best time to take a river or lake cruise in Chicago?

From April to November, river and lake cruises are at their best in Chicago. This is when the majority of tours are operating and temperatures are pleasant. However, weather changes may interfere, especially during the beginning of spring and fall. You can check for schedule updates to confirm. Show more

Where do the boat cruises depart from in Chicago?

Navy Pier (600 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611) is the departure point for boat cruises in Chicago. Many local and international tour companies operate from there. Navy Pier is one of Chicago's most popular attractions, and it's very easy to get to by taking public transportation such as buses, subways, and trains. Show more

What specific landmarks can be seen on an architecture-themed cruise in Chicago?

Take an architecture-themed cruise in Chicago to view famous points like the Tribune Tower, Willis Tower, Wrigley Building, Merchandise Mart, and the Chicago Riverwalk. These cruises are a fantastic way to see Chicago's incredible architecture up close while enjoying some of the city's skyline views. Show more

What is the cost of a Seadog Lakefront Speedboat ride in Chicago?

The cost of a Seadog Lakefront Speedboat ride in Chicago can differ based on the tour style and time of day. The cost of a brief 30-minute trip may be about $20, while a 75-minute scenic speedboat excursion may cost around $40. Seadog also offers a fireworks cruise and other exceptional tours whose prices range from $35-$38 per person. Show more

What are the differences between a Sunset Dinner Cruise and a Fireworks Cruise in Chicago?

A Sunset Dinner Cruise in Chicago offers an all-you-can-eat buffet or gourmet meal onboard, with live music and a cash bar. It takes place during the evening hours, so diners can experience a gorgeous sunset and views of the city. Meanwhile, a Fireworks cruise usually has snacks, drinks, and an onboard DJ. They offer passengers an up-close view of Navy Pier's fireworks display and take place on Wednesday and Saturday nights during the summer months. Show more

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