6 Great Places to Kayak in Chicago

6 Great Places to Kayak in Chicago

6 Great Places to Kayak in Chicago

Chicago’s Lakefront

For some, the best place to kayak in Chicagoland is the Chicago waterfront, with its large variety of attractions, restaurants, bars, museums, and hotels. The Lakefront trail is about 30-miles long, running from the north side of the city to the south side. People can access the trail from dozens of spots, including beaches, piers, and marinas. Some of the best places to kayak are at the south side’s 31st Street Harbor, the north side’s Montrose Harbor, and the east side’s 63rd Street Harbor. The water on the Chicago waterfront is fairly calm, making it a good choice for beginners.

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Fox River

The Fox River’s current is strong and can be rough. If you’re new to kayaking, we recommend you steer clear of the sections closest to the Herrington and Wilco dams. The river’s beauty is undeniable, though, with its lush greenery, spectacular bluffs, and charming towns. We recommend beginners start at the river’s mouth and work their way up. The trip is about 16 miles, and you can take it all in one day if you’re feeling really ambitious.

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Chain O’ Lakes

The Chain O’ Lakes are one of Chicagoland’s most underrated outdoor gems. This vast series of lakes and rivers, which stretch from Lake County to the Wisconsin border, is a kayaker’s paradise. The Chain O’ Lakes are home to tons of wildlife, including eagles, geese, beavers, and tons of fish. There are also tons of places to kayak in the Chain O’ Lakes, including the Des Plaines River. We recommend beginners start off on the Des Plaines River. The current isn’t that strong and you can easily paddle back to shore. There are tons of places to rent kayaks in Chicago and the suburbs, including at the Chain O’ Lakes’ marinas.

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DuPage River

The DuPage River runs straight through Chicago. It’s not as big or awe-inspiring as the Fox River, but it’s still a beautiful kayak trip. The river is great for beginners and is quite calm. There are tons of places to launch, including places in Naperville, Aurora, and Wheaton. We recommend you leave from Naperville, as it’s the most convenient and has a ton of parking. The most beautiful stretch of the DuPage River is in DuPage County, near the I-88 bridge. The water is calm and the scenery is gorgeous. There are also places to launch in Will County, but we’d recommend staying away from there, as the water is much more choppy.

Ilyssed-Meeany-Mack Canal

The Ilyssed-Meeany-Mack Canal is a unique and beautiful place to kayak in Chicagoland. The canal is fed by the Des Plaines River and has a very narrow channel, which is great for kayaking. The water is calm, there are lots of places to launch, and it’s one of the most interesting kayaking trips in the Chicago area. There are two places to launch, both in the suburbs. We recommend you start at the Ilyssed end and work your way up. The trip is about 7 miles long.

Calumet River and Burnham Lake

The Calumet River is a large river that flows through a variety of different landscapes. The river is amazing for kayaking, as it offers a wide variety of landscapes. There are wide, open spaces, dense forests, and urban landscapes. The Calumet River is also home to a wide variety of wildlife, including ducks, geese, swans, and cranes. There are two places to launch. We recommend you start at the Green Harbor and work your way up. The trip is about 10 miles.


Kayaking is an increasingly popular recreation, especially in Chicagoland, where there are so many places to kayak. The water is beautiful, and kayaking is a cheap, easy way to enjoy it. There are many different places to kayak in Chicagoland, so you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for you. Whether you want to explore the city’s awesome landscape or paddle through a scenic river, there’s a kayak trip for you near Chicago.

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