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Where to rent a boat in Chicago

15 easy ways to get out on the water this summer

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Chicago might be known for its world-famous architectural cruises, but there are plenty of other ways to get on the water this summer. Whether you’re interested a kayak, canoe, sailboat, pontoon, motor yacht, or even a paddleboard, here are some of the best places to rent a boat for a couple of hours or the whole day.

There’s an old saying that “a boat is a hole in the water into which you throw money.” But by renting, you’ll leave the costs and headaches of maintenance to someone else. You can cruise up and down Chicago’s lakefront or explore the “second coast” of the Chicago River—or traverse the locks and do both.

When Chicago’s weather is behaving, there’s no better place to be than out on the water.

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1. Chicago Electric Boat Company

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300 N State St Suite EE
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 644-6411
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This popular rental company offers a fleet of small electric boats from its Marina City base. Although the modest electric motors aren’t going to set any sort of speed records, it means the boats are quiet and conversation friendly. Chicago Electric Boat Company is BYO when it comes to food and beverage.

2. Chicago Cycleboats

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151-155 W, Chicago Riverwalk
Chicago, IL 60601

Renting one of these human-powered boats is a fun, social way to get around the river. Similar to a pedal pub on land, the “cycleboat” pontoons can accommodate ten pedalers plus six passengers for 90 minutes at a time. Embark along the Chicago Riverwalk.

3. Urban Kayaks

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435 E. Chicago Riverwalk
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 965-0035
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While some Chicago kayak rentals make you paddle a long way to enjoy downtown’s best architecture, Urban Kayaks launches you right in the middle of the action from the Chicago Riverwalk’s recently revamped eastern segment. For lake paddling, Urban Kayaks also operates a second location at Monroe Harbor, just south of the Columbia Yacht Club.

4. Chicago Tiki Boat

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400 E Monrore St
Chicago, IL 60603
(312) 566-8454
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Also operating from Monroe Harbor is Chicago Tiki Boat, which bills itself as the city’s original party boat operator. The company rents out several tropical-themed pontoons for groups of up to 20 individuals. Each boat includes a grill and its own waterslide.

5. Island Party Boat

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400 E Monroe St
Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 600-8454
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This Polynesian-themed company operates a fleet of ten boats can that accommodate between two to 90 guests. The party-friendly vessels feature waterslides, bars, TVs, and premium sound systems and depart from both Monroe Harbor and the Chicago Riverwalk.

6. 3rd Coast Charters

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400 E Monroe St
Chicago, IL 60601
(844) 724-5987
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3rd Coast Charters offers guests a chance to take out Latitude Adjustment, Chicago’s largest chartering catamaran. The 38-foot-long, double-hull vessel comes with a captain, crew, and access to onboard amenities including a grill, salon, galley, and private cabins.

7. Wateriders

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500 N Kingsbury St
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 953-9287
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Wateriders has been hosting kayak tours of the Chicago River for more than two decades. Based out of the East Bank Club at 500 N. Kingsbury, the company offers a variety of guided excursions that focus on history and architect, ghosts and gangsters, or simply enjoying the summer fireworks at Navy Pier.

8. Rent Chicago Boats

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800 S. Wells Marina Behind Bldg - North Side - Black Dock
Chicago, IL 60607
(773) 791-7311
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This company, located below the Bertrand Goldberg-designed River City complex in the South Loop, provides its customers with a choice of several yachts and pontoon boats. Two- or three-hour cruises are available on the Chicago River. Longer four-hour, half-day, and full-day excursions let you explore both the river and the lake.

9. Chicago Boat Rentals

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1177 N Elston Ave
Chicago, IL 60642
(224) 422-8136
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Just west of Goose Island on the north branch of the Chicago River, the company offers easy to drive pontoon boats that can accommodate eight or twelve passengers. Charters are typically two hours, and firework cruises are also available.

10. Jet Ski Chicago

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1600 N Lake Shore Dr
Chicago, IL 60613
(312) 600-8679
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Operating along the popular North Avenue Beach, Jet Ski Chicago provides customers a chance to cruise up and down the lakefront and around Navy Pier. Its Waverunners start at $99 for the first half-hour.

11. Chicago SUP

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1601 N Lake Shore Dr
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 575-4787
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If a jet ski isn’t really your style, consider taking to the water on a relaxing stand-up paddleboard (SUP) at Chicago SUP, also at North Avenue Beach. Though perhaps not a boat, a paddleboard is a low-cost, low-stress way to get out on the water this summer.

12. BBQ Pontoon

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2120 S Canal St
Chicago, IL 60616
(770) 766-8666
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On the river’s south branch, near the border of Chinatown and Pilsen, is BBQ Pontoon. The company takes a novel approach to boat rental by including a free pizza with each excursion. Able to accommodate groups of up to nine, the boats start at $269 for a two-hour tour.

13. Chicago River Canoe and Kayak

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3400 N Rockwell St
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 704-2663
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Located a healthy paddle away from the glass and steel canyon of the main branch, Chicago River Canoe and Kayak invites you to experience a more natural stretch of the river—complete with wild heron and turtles. Explore on your own or book a guided tour.

14. Windy City Sailing

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400 W Belmont Harbor Dr
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 868-0096
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Based in Belmont Harbor, Windy City Sailing offers charters for recreational, romantic, and educational experiences to individuals and groups of up to ten. Its fleet includes a 40-foot sloop-rigged sailboat called the Nebula as well as a 38-foot power yacht.

15. Chicago Water Sport Rentals

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31st Street Harbor
Chicago, IL
(312) 924-7994
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The South Side’s 31st Street Harbor is home to Chicago Water Sport Rentals which operates a fleet of Yamaha Waverunners. Located at Dock J, the company also offers kayaks, paddleboards, and pontoon boats.

1. Chicago Electric Boat Company

300 N State St Suite EE, Chicago, IL 60654

This popular rental company offers a fleet of small electric boats from its Marina City base. Although the modest electric motors aren’t going to set any sort of speed records, it means the boats are quiet and conversation friendly. Chicago Electric Boat Company is BYO when it comes to food and beverage.

300 N State St Suite EE
Chicago, IL 60654

2. Chicago Cycleboats

151-155 W, Chicago Riverwalk, Chicago, IL 60601

Renting one of these human-powered boats is a fun, social way to get around the river. Similar to a pedal pub on land, the “cycleboat” pontoons can accommodate ten pedalers plus six passengers for 90 minutes at a time. Embark along the Chicago Riverwalk.

151-155 W, Chicago Riverwalk
Chicago, IL 60601

3. Urban Kayaks

435 E. Chicago Riverwalk, Chicago, IL 60611

While some Chicago kayak rentals make you paddle a long way to enjoy downtown’s best architecture, Urban Kayaks launches you right in the middle of the action from the Chicago Riverwalk’s recently revamped eastern segment. For lake paddling, Urban Kayaks also operates a second location at Monroe Harbor, just south of the Columbia Yacht Club.

435 E. Chicago Riverwalk
Chicago, IL 60611

4. Chicago Tiki Boat

400 E Monrore St, Chicago, IL 60603

Also operating from Monroe Harbor is Chicago Tiki Boat, which bills itself as the city’s original party boat operator. The company rents out several tropical-themed pontoons for groups of up to 20 individuals. Each boat includes a grill and its own waterslide.

400 E Monrore St
Chicago, IL 60603

5. Island Party Boat

400 E Monroe St, Chicago, IL 60601

This Polynesian-themed company operates a fleet of ten boats can that accommodate between two to 90 guests. The party-friendly vessels feature waterslides, bars, TVs, and premium sound systems and depart from both Monroe Harbor and the Chicago Riverwalk.

400 E Monroe St
Chicago, IL 60601

6. 3rd Coast Charters

400 E Monroe St, Chicago, IL 60601

3rd Coast Charters offers guests a chance to take out Latitude Adjustment, Chicago’s largest chartering catamaran. The 38-foot-long, double-hull vessel comes with a captain, crew, and access to onboard amenities including a grill, salon, galley, and private cabins.

400 E Monroe St
Chicago, IL 60601

7. Wateriders

500 N Kingsbury St, Chicago, IL 60654

Wateriders has been hosting kayak tours of the Chicago River for more than two decades. Based out of the East Bank Club at 500 N. Kingsbury, the company offers a variety of guided excursions that focus on history and architect, ghosts and gangsters, or simply enjoying the summer fireworks at Navy Pier.

500 N Kingsbury St
Chicago, IL 60654

8. Rent Chicago Boats

800 S. Wells Marina Behind Bldg - North Side - Black Dock, Chicago, IL 60607

This company, located below the Bertrand Goldberg-designed River City complex in the South Loop, provides its customers with a choice of several yachts and pontoon boats. Two- or three-hour cruises are available on the Chicago River. Longer four-hour, half-day, and full-day excursions let you explore both the river and the lake.

800 S. Wells Marina Behind Bldg - North Side - Black Dock
Chicago, IL 60607

9. Chicago Boat Rentals

1177 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

Just west of Goose Island on the north branch of the Chicago River, the company offers easy to drive pontoon boats that can accommodate eight or twelve passengers. Charters are typically two hours, and firework cruises are also available.

1177 N Elston Ave
Chicago, IL 60642

10. Jet Ski Chicago

1600 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60613

Operating along the popular North Avenue Beach, Jet Ski Chicago provides customers a chance to cruise up and down the lakefront and around Navy Pier. Its Waverunners start at $99 for the first half-hour.

1600 N Lake Shore Dr
Chicago, IL 60613

11. Chicago SUP

1601 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60614

If a jet ski isn’t really your style, consider taking to the water on a relaxing stand-up paddleboard (SUP) at Chicago SUP, also at North Avenue Beach. Though perhaps not a boat, a paddleboard is a low-cost, low-stress way to get out on the water this summer.

1601 N Lake Shore Dr
Chicago, IL 60614

12. BBQ Pontoon

2120 S Canal St, Chicago, IL 60616

On the river’s south branch, near the border of Chinatown and Pilsen, is BBQ Pontoon. The company takes a novel approach to boat rental by including a free pizza with each excursion. Able to accommodate groups of up to nine, the boats start at $269 for a two-hour tour.

2120 S Canal St
Chicago, IL 60616

13. Chicago River Canoe and Kayak

3400 N Rockwell St, Chicago, IL 60618

Located a healthy paddle away from the glass and steel canyon of the main branch, Chicago River Canoe and Kayak invites you to experience a more natural stretch of the river—complete with wild heron and turtles. Explore on your own or book a guided tour.

3400 N Rockwell St
Chicago, IL 60618

14. Windy City Sailing

400 W Belmont Harbor Dr, Chicago, IL 60657

Based in Belmont Harbor, Windy City Sailing offers charters for recreational, romantic, and educational experiences to individuals and groups of up to ten. Its fleet includes a 40-foot sloop-rigged sailboat called the Nebula as well as a 38-foot power yacht.

400 W Belmont Harbor Dr
Chicago, IL 60657

15. Chicago Water Sport Rentals

31st Street Harbor, Chicago, IL

The South Side’s 31st Street Harbor is home to Chicago Water Sport Rentals which operates a fleet of Yamaha Waverunners. Located at Dock J, the company also offers kayaks, paddleboards, and pontoon boats.

31st Street Harbor
Chicago, IL