The Chicago Riverwalk

#10 in Best Things To Do in Chicago
The Chicago Riverwalk picture
Jumping Rocks/Getty Images

Key Info

Downtown Chicago

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Parks and Gardens, Free Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
4.2

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

When the weather warms up in Chicago, there are few better places to enjoy the outdoors than the Chicago Riverwalk. The 1.25-mile pedestrian walkway on the south bank of the Chicago River is the perfect place to take a walk and observe the city skyline. Plus, there are numerous activity options to enjoy directly on the water, such as a boat tour or kayaking. If you prefer dry land, explore the public gardens and art displays or grab a meal at a popular restaurant or bar overlooking the Chicago River. And if you want to learn more about the river's unique history, check out the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum, which celebrates the city's famous movable bridges. Boat tours, many of which sail the Chicago River, are another way to learn about the city's waterways.

Recent guests said walking the Riverwalk is a nice way to view the city, but they did not recommend visiting during the frigid winter. The urban park is free to access, and it is open daily from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. If you can, visit during St. Patrick's Day weekend, when the entire river is dyed green. Just keep in mind that there are a few ongoing construction projects causing the closure of some parts of the Riverwalk (you can check this website for updates on construction). The public walkway is located downtown, following the south bank of the river from North State Street and stretching east to North Lake Shore Drive; it features several access points. There are a few parking lots and L stations near the attraction.

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More Best Things To Do in Chicago

Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain1 of 20
Millennium Park2 of 20
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain

Often referred to as "Chicago's front yard," Grant Park is a 319-acre swath of green space that starts at the eastern edge of the Loop and stretches down to the northern fringes of the Near South Side. First-time visitors should plan on spending a fair amount of time in Grant Park: This is where you'll find several of Chicago's most popular things to do, including The Field Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and Shedd Aquarium. (Millennium Park also rubs elbows with the northwest corner of Grant Park.) Baseball diamonds, flower gardens, walking paths and wide-open grassy terrain are available as well.

At the heart of Grant Park is Buckingham Fountain. One of the largest fountains in the world, this tiered water feature boasts 133 jets that shoot water as high as 150 feet into the air during 20-minute choreographed displays (which take place every hour on the hour between 9 a.m. and 10:35 p.m. from April to October). At night, the fountain's performance is accompanied by lights and music.

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