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Best Boat Tours in Chicago [Navy Pier Guide]

Last Updated September 21, 2018
It’s no secret, there are many tours in Chicago; from Chicago Food Tours and architecture tours to bus tours and boat tours we have a lot. In 2017, Chicago’s Architecture River Cruise was rated the #1 Booked Experience in the USA. It’s important to note that there are plenty of boat tours that depart from Navy Pier.  We have put together our list of the Best Chicago Boat Tours below.

Most Popular Chicago Boat Tours

  • The #1 Booked Experience listed above? Yeah, that’s where Shoreline Sightseeing’s boat tour comes in. They offer a guided boat tour of the Chicago River. You’ll hear some of the story, of Chicago’s most influential architects as you cruise past their works of art. If you get the Chicago Go Card, a Chicago tourist attraction discount pass, this tour is included.
  • Sea Dog is a pretty well known company when it comes to high speed boat rides, but they do also offer an Chicago architecture tour. If you’re looking for something that really gets the adrenaline going, this could be the best boat tour for you.
  • Tall Ship Windy is a sight for sore eyes on the lake with its billowing sails and beautiful aesthetic. You get the old time allure of a pirate ship with modern conveniences to make your experience memorable (and comfortable – hello modern bathroom, I see you and appreciate you). It’s a great thing to do in Chicago on family vacation. Your kids will love the pirate ship, and you will love the full bar. Hopefully you don’t have to say “but, why is the rum gone?” Get outta here if you don’t get the Pirates of the Caribbean reference.

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Tall Ship Windy sailing out of Chicago on a tour.

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Boat Tours with Added Entertainment

  • Spirit of Chicago is great for families to enjoy a nice buffet while drifting along Lake Michigan. They also provide entertainment in the form of DJ music and interactive games. This service is all about having fun with friends and family. Spirit offers lunch, brunch and dinner cruises fairly often. Speaking of lunch, brunch and dinner, these are our top 5 places to eat at Navy Pier.
  • Mystic Blue offers both a dinner buffet and DJ music on their cruises. Enjoy a full meal and then dance the night way on your cruise. It’s a fun, flirty way to have a casual cruise out on Lake Michigan.

Our Favorite Chicago Boat Tour

  • The Water Taxi: While not necessarily classified as a cruise, the Water Taxi is one of the most extraordinary ways to view the city. Plus it’s cheap! We recommend taking the Wendella Water Taxi from River North to Chinatown. An all day pass for an adult is only $7! You can’t beat that! It’s our favorite way to see Chicago by boat.

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Transportation goals 👌

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There you have it folks, our recommendations for Chicago’s Boat Tours. There are many ways to see the city and seeing it by boat at least once in your life is a must! If boats aren’t your thing, we totally get it. Water can be scary. Chicago is one of the greatest cities to walk around. We’ve got plenty of guided walking tours for you to choose from. Learn about Chicago Walking Food Tours today.

Looking for more tips on Experiencing Chicago’s famous Navy Pier? Check out our full guide to Navy Pier here.

We love showcasing the delicious food, robust history and unique culture Chicago has to offer.

We believe food is the universal language that unites people. Our experiences are curated to connect you to the greatest food city in the world and the people within it.


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