Chicago River
Chicago River
4.5
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Duration: 1-2 hours
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Top ways to experience Chicago River
The area
Neighbourhood: Downtown / The Loop
Often visitors' first stop in Chicago, The Loop is a good starting point to sample the city's energy and flavor. This central business district boasts Michelin-rated restaurants, upscale hotels, premier shopping, and enough arresting architecture to keep your camera busy for hours. You won’t find too many photo galleries of downtown Chicago without a shot of Millennium Park and Cloud Gate (“The Bean”), one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. A stunning skyline coupled with cultural attractions like the Art Institute of Chicago present a Downtown where work and play peacefully coexist.
How to get there
  • Clark/Lake • 3 min walk
  • Clark/Lake • 3 min walk
Reach out directly
See what travellers are saying
  • Irina
    United States13,367 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Always Beautiful
    Chicago River makes its way through the downtown area of the city. Historically, as a result of two major engineering projects (1889 -- 1910), the flow of the river was redirected, turning it away from Lake Michigan, so since then Chicago River flows into Des Plaines River, which is over 150 miles away from Chicago. Chicago River is a part of a large system, that includes the North Branch, the South Branch, and Main Stem of Chicago River, as well as 52 miles of constructed waterways. Flowing through the central part of the city, Chicago River makes the whole area look even more colorful and beautiful. You can walk or drive on the bridges from the Loop to the Near North Side, take the River cruises, architectural boat tours, or just enjoy the Chicago Riverwalk, that in any time of the year shows the beauty of Chicago River and the stunning architecture of the city. I always enjoy Chicago River and the views, when I am in the downtown area of this great city.
    Visited June 2023
    Travelled with friends
    Written 10 July 2023
  • Nightly Trader
    4 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Worth the visit
    Absolute must-see! It's like the city's glittering, liquid jewel, especially when it's all lit up at night. The riverwalk is a cool place to stroll, grab a bite, and enjoy the city vibes. And if you get the chance, take a boat tour – you'll get the lowdown on Chicago's fascinating history and some killer skyline views. Trust me, it's one of those iconic things you gotta check off your Chicago bucket list!
    Visited May 2023
    Travelled with family
    Written 27 September 2023
  • Bill B
    Bel Air, Maryland18,173 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Watching the smooth waters makes for a restful experience
    The Chicago River is placid and stately as it moves along and reflects both modern and historic architecture in the Loop area of the city. Tour boats ply its waters up to Lake Michigan near Navy Pier. The waters, alternatively blue and green, are clear and clean looking. The numerous bridges that cross the river are often double decked and are themselves part of the river's history. Watching the smooth waters makes for a restful experience.
    Visited October 2023
    Travelled solo
    Written 21 October 2023
  • TravelingSoccerLoon
    Saint Paul, Minnesota5,208 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great To Walk Along or Ride on the River to Appreciate the Architecture of the City
    The Chicago River cuts through downtown Chicago and offers a great way to experience the city's incredible architecture. There are architecture boat tours that can be experienced and are very relaxing and worthwhile during the pleasant weather times of the year. Or you can stroll along the Chicago Riverwalk on the south bank of the river and experience many incredible views. Some of the best views are near the Michigan Avenue Bridge where the iconic Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower can be seen.
    Visited April 2023
    Travelled with friends
    Written 10 March 2024
  • Sercan Kamil Nergizci
    Istanbul, Türkiye54 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Beautiful River
    The first of my travel is St. Patrick’s Day and the coast of river is so crowded. The people was fun and dancing. Besides, the most beautiful thing is that the river was colored brilliant green by natural feed. The tours on the river can be taken and see more details about these lovely river.
    Visited March 2024
    Travelled on business
    Written 21 March 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as waiting time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles2,033 reviews
Excellent
1,517
Very good
451
Average
56
Poor
6
Terrible
3

Taylor B
Chicago, IL8,285 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2024 • Couples
The Chicago River is a winding, wandering, wonderful body of water. It flows backward, piercing the heart of Chicago, linking Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. It is a system of rivers and canals with a combined length of 156 miles that runs through downtown Chicago. It is dyed bright green on St. Patrick's Day and is spanned by iconic bridges that open and close to traffic. Today, the main stem of the river flows west from Lake Michigan to Wolf Point, near the Merchandise Mart, where it converges with the North Branch to form the South Branch, which flows southwest and empties into the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. The North Branch has its beginnings in the northern suburbs where its three principal tributaries converge -- Skokie River, Rondout and Mettawa -- and continue south through Niles before entering Chicago near the intersection of Milwaukee Avenue and Devon Avenue. Meanwhile, the South Branch enters the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal at Damen Avenue and flows down the canal through the southwestern suburbs and, in time, into the Des Plaines River between Crest Hill and Lockport, eventually reaching the Gulf of Mexico. Historically, Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette, though probably not the first Europeans to visit the area, are the first recorded explorers to have visited the Chicago River in 1673. Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, acknowledged to be the first permanent resident of Chicago, built a farm on the north bank at the mouth of the river in the 1780s. In 1803, Fort Dearborn was constructed on the bank opposite what had been Point du Sable's settlement, on the site of the present day Michigan Avenue Bridge. The first bridge over the river was constructed over the North Branch near present day Kinzie Street in 1832. A second bridge over the South Branch near Randolph Street was added in 1833. Today, the Chicago River is spanned by 38 bridges, down from a peak of 52. To learn about the history of the Chicago River and how the bridges are raised and lowered, visit the five-story, 1,613-square-foot McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum at the southwest bridgehouse of the Michigan Avenue Bridge. Looking for other ways to enjoy the river? Take a lightening fast cruise on the speedy Seadog, which jets off from Navy Pier, speeds along the lakefront, then zips down the river. allowing passengers to see the most famous riverfront buildings, including Tribune Tower, Wrigley Building, Willis Tower, Marina City, Lyric Opera and Merchandise Mart. Take a ride on a fireboat, paddle a kayak, take a guided architectural tour that circles the Loop and glides past the spot where the first settlers to Chicago set up their home base or hail a water taxi to travel via the Chicago River to Chinatown, Navy Pier, the Museum Campus, Willis Tower, Michigan Avenue and Union Station. All in all, there are many exciting ways to explore the Chicago River.
Written 4 June 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Justin C
Marquette, MI1 contribution
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Business
I really loved this cruise, you could see all of the buildings so well and the warm weather and sun made it the perfect afternoon activity.
Written 24 April 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sercan Kamil Nergizci
Istanbul, Türkiye54 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2024 • Business
The first of my travel is St. Patrick’s Day and the coast of river is so crowded. The people was fun and dancing. Besides, the most beautiful thing is that the river was colored brilliant green by natural feed. The tours on the river can be taken and see more details about these lovely river.
Written 21 March 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

TravelingSoccerLoon
Saint Paul, MN5,208 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2023 • Friends
The Chicago River cuts through downtown Chicago and offers a great way to experience the city's incredible architecture. There are architecture boat tours that can be experienced and are very relaxing and worthwhile during the pleasant weather times of the year. Or you can stroll along the Chicago Riverwalk on the south bank of the river and experience many incredible views. Some of the best views are near the Michigan Avenue Bridge where the iconic Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower can be seen.
Written 11 March 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

CaptainBristol
Seattle, WA37 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2023
This is pretty silly, It's a river that runs through downtown Chicago. It has a lot of buildings on both banks. Some buildings look great, some look blah. The water is watery. It's just a river in a city!
Written 14 November 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Bill B
Bel Air, MD18,173 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2023 • Solo
The Chicago River is placid and stately as it moves along and reflects both modern and historic architecture in the Loop area of the city. Tour boats ply its waters up to Lake Michigan near Navy Pier. The waters, alternatively blue and green, are clear and clean looking. The numerous bridges that cross the river are often double decked and are themselves part of the river's history. Watching the smooth waters makes for a restful experience.
Written 21 October 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Nightly Trader
4 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2023 • Family
Absolute must-see! It's like the city's glittering, liquid jewel, especially when it's all lit up at night. The riverwalk is a cool place to stroll, grab a bite, and enjoy the city vibes. And if you get the chance, take a boat tour – you'll get the lowdown on Chicago's fascinating history and some killer skyline views. Trust me, it's one of those iconic things you gotta check off your Chicago bucket list!
Written 27 September 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Doron Z
Tel Aviv, Israel238 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2023
I haven't seen such a combination elsewhere. The river is seemed flowing in a high canyon, where the walls of the canyon are high rises on both of the sides of the river.
Written 19 September 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Keywest
Key West, FL18 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2023
After sunset the whole place comes to life. Music, lights and the fantastic buildings surrounding it. Really amazing
Written 3 August 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Irina
United States13,367 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2023 • Friends
Chicago River makes its way through the downtown area of the city. Historically, as a result of two major engineering projects (1889 -- 1910), the flow of the river was redirected, turning it away from Lake Michigan, so since then Chicago River flows into Des Plaines River, which is over 150 miles away from Chicago.

Chicago River is a part of a large system, that includes the North Branch, the South Branch, and Main Stem of Chicago River, as well as 52 miles of constructed waterways.

Flowing through the central part of the city, Chicago River makes the whole area look even more colorful and beautiful. You can walk or drive on the bridges from the Loop to the Near North Side, take the River cruises, architectural boat tours, or just enjoy the Chicago Riverwalk, that in any time of the year shows the beauty of Chicago River and the stunning architecture of the city.

I always enjoy Chicago River and the views, when I am in the downtown area of this great city.
Written 10 July 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Chicago River - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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