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7 Best Kayaking Spots Around Chicago

Updated: Jan 22

Why not go kayaking around Chicago if you're looking for a peaceful way to spend some time outside? You won't be able to avoid the blazing sun, but you will be on the water! Kayaking is the ideal combination of exercise and relaxation, whether done in a group or alone. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face as you ride the currents of our local waterway for a summer adventure.

Are you ready?

Location: 1603 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60611


Enjoy a guided tour down the Chicago River through the canyons of glass and steel, or explore at your own pace with a single or double kayak rental. Float off North Ave. beach for skyline views, or play on a paddle board at Montrose Beach, Chicago's secret getaway.

Treat your friends and family to an unforgettable summer adventure.

Location: 500 N Kingsbury St, Chicago, IL 60654


If the Chicago River is your ideal summer destination, stop by Wateriders and rent a kayak for the occasion. In addition to historic tours, they offer themed tours such as Ghosts and Gangsters and Moonlight Paddles. Wateriders was the first of its kind, opening in 1997, and it continues to excite visitors each season.

Want to make your own Chicago River adventure? Rent kayaks by the hour and explore the downtown area!

Location: E Higgins Rd/Rte 72, east of I-290/Hwy 53, Cook County, IL 60007


Busse Woods is located to the northwest of the city. This is not only a great place for an afternoon picnic, but they also have a boat rental service where you can take a kayak out on one of their beautiful lakes. Enjoy the peace and quiet of the water without hearing cars honking all the time; this is what the suburbs are all about. Just west of 290 and 90, getting to Busse Woods from the city is simple, and while visiting here is like taking a step back in time, there are plenty of restaurants, shopping, and activities to enjoy after your kayak trip.

Location: 9600 Wolf Rd, Willow Springs, IL 60480


Maple Lake in Willow Springs' southwestern suburbs is possibly the most scenic place to rent a kayak for the day. With single and tandem kayaking options, you can enjoy some alone time or, like me, force your mom to join you on a kayaking adventure that will leave you laughing and her annoyed.

Kayaks are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and the facility strongly advises calling ahead to ensure you can get out on the water at your preferred time. Spend some time walking around the forest preserve that surrounds Maple Lake after your water activity to take in the best sights and sounds that a summer day has to offer.

Location: 2436 S Washington St, Naperville, IL 60565


Naperville, as one of the largest suburbs in the Chicagoland area, has it all. Visit the various restaurants and shops in the walkable downtown, or go for a cool summer date on the water. Naperville is a great place to go kayaking around Chicago because of the many beautiful forest preserves, including Whalon Lake, where Naperville Kayak rents kayaks to anyone who wants to get out on the water.

If you enjoy fishing, Naperville Kayak offers fishing kayaks for some peace and quiet while catching fish and sun rays. All you need to know is to bring sunscreen, wear a life jacket, and be prepared to get wet!

Location: N, Glencoe, IL 60022


The Skokie Lagoons are a fun and easy-to-paddle network of twisting and turning channels that connect seven lagoons on the Skokie River. The channels themselves are narrow, which I prefer because paddling through low-hanging tree branches and shoelace streams makes the experience feel much more intimate. The lagoons are a great option for an afternoon trip that is both kid and pet friendly because they provide access to nature in such close proximity to the city.

However, it does take some paddling to truly feel as if you've left city life behind. When you first get on the water, you can see and hear the nearby busy traffic. However, as you travel deeper into the lagoon channels, which are densely forested with lush trees, greenery, and wildlife, those sounds begin to fade. It may not be a complete escape from the city's chaos, but it is a wonderful oasis and a healthy dose of nature's medicine.

Location: 1 E Wilson St, Batavia, IL 60510


Did you know there is a 202-mile-long river just outside of Chicago? There are numerous places to spend the day kayaking that are easily accessible and long enough for water-based activities such as boating, swimming, and, yes, kayaking. Kayak Myak rentals have three put-in locations: Batavia, South Elgin, and Carpentersville.

You might not think that a trip to Batavia could include so much fun on the water, but calling Kayak Myak will ensure that your day begins with a leisurely glide down the Fox River and ends with a desire to take another trip as soon as possible.

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