The Riverwalk is open for the summer season, and there will be a ton of ways to celebrate at one of the city’s most popular outdoor spaces. There’s river kayaking, wine patios, art installations, walking tours, and fireworks. Plus, the east end of the Riverwalk opened extending the 1.25-mile path all the way to the lakefront.
We’ve selected some fun events that’ll happen all summer, and you can always check out the Riverwalk’s event schedule for more. If you’re curious about where to eat and drink along the river, Chicago Eater has the down-low on new vendors this season.
See new art installations
This season, there will be two new artists with installations on the Riverwalk. Multimedia artist Ebony G. Patterson will have a series of five colorful mural banners just east of Michigan Avenue and sculptor Robert Burnier created huge steel, mesh and rope structures near Franklin and Lake streets.
Admire Art on the Mart
Soon after sunset, the Merchandise Mart is lit up with digital projections. Find seating between Franklin and Wells to get a good view of the animations and abstract designs by a rotating selection of artists.
Join Second Tuesdays on the Riverwalk
This mini celebration at the start of the week includes live music and discounts at restaurants and shops. LUME8’s Arts in the Dark program will lead a glowing lantern processions and feature performers from local Chicago theaters.
Architecture boat tours
The Chicago Architecture Center, which is also right near the riverfront, has the best boat tour led by docents who are experts in the city’s history and iconic architecture. Even if you’re a local, it’s fun to see some of the best architecture up close.
Get on a kayak
If you’d rather be paddling than walking, Urban Kayaks has an outpost here. They offer individual rentals and also historic tours and outings to see Navy Pier fireworks.
Visit the McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River museum
This seasonal museum is a landmark bridgehouse at the DuSable Bridge on the east end of the Riverwalk. Visitors can the massive gears that lift the city’s moveable bridges and there are 360-degree views from the top.
Fish at The Jetty
The Park District will lead free fishing for kids from noon to 6 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Now in its third year, the program teaches all ages about the local ecosystem and the importance of the river and native plants.