Your family guide to the Chicago Riverwalk

The Chicago Riverwalk has gone through so many amazing changes over the past few years and now, it has become a beloved attraction in the city’s downtown area. Stretching for 1.25 miles along the Chicago River, the stroller-friendly path offers public art displays, quick bites, water fun and so much more for your entire family.

Play

The Water Plaza

Looking to cool down after walking around under the sun? The Water Plaza, one of the themed spaces on the Riverwalk, offers a free splash pad for families. This splash pad is elevated and gated away from the river edge, so your kids can roam free and you can take a seat while watching them. 

Between LaSalle and Wells Avenues bridges

Urban Kayaks

If your family is up for an adventure, take a challenge and kayak down the Chicago River. Urban Kayaks offers a “Riverwalk Intro Paddle” perfect for families who never tried kayaking before. Parents can ride with kids under 15 in a tandem (two-person) kayak. Experienced kayakers can try out special tours like the “Ultimate Fireworks Outing” and the “Art on the Mart Twilight Paddle” for some sweet views. 

435 E. Riverwalk South

The Riverbank

What we love about the Chicago Riverwalk is the growing number of public art displays. On the farther end of the Riverwalk, check out the Black Tiberinus by the School of Art Institute Chicago alum, Robert Burnier. The yellow installation is hard to miss on the Riverwalk and while you’re there, take a seat on one of the brightly-colored lawn chairs. 

Between Franklin St. and Lake St. bridges

Eat

The Northman Beer & Cider Garden

Chicago’s first cider bar has made a name for its self in North Center and now you can enjoy a traditional European beer garden on the river. With plenty of drink options available for parents, don’t hesitate to take a seat at their picnic tables with the kids as well. Their food menu hosts plenty of family-friendly options from artisanal hot dogs and sausages to soft pretzels and sandwiches. There’s also cornhole available if the kids want to play. 

233 E. Riverwalk South

Sweet Home Gelato

Head over to Sweet Home Gelato when it’s time for a dessert break. Conveniently located right next to the splash pad in The Water Plaza, the gelato spot offers special treats like root beer floats, milkshakes and sundaes. 

151-155 W. Riverwalk South

Chicago Riverwalk Community Marketplace

New this year, the Riverwalk brings some neighborhood gems to the Riverwalk. Try out the French toast flight at Batter and Berries or curry tacos and savory pies at Chiya Chai Café. Note: Hours vary and businesses may not be open during your visit. 

65 E. Riverwalk South

Shop

Shop Small Chicago

Support local artists at this kiosk hosting a rotating selection of accessories, apparel and lifestyle products. Some products included are honey-infused skincare from BeeLove (North Lawndale) and Chicago-inspired pet collars from Six Point Pet (Ravenswood). Check their website to see which brands are featured in their shop this month. 

65 E. Riverwalk South

Neighborly

Here’s another great business offering handmade and eco-friendly products. If you’re looking for some cool Chicago-themed products, Neighborly is your one-stop-shop to find phone cases, tote bags and apparel showcasing the city we all love. 

65 E. Riverwalk South

Explore

McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum

With all the bridge houses located along the Chicago River, there’s actually one where you can explore inside! The McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum is certainly worth the visit if you want to take a closer look of massive bridge gears, learn more about the Chicago River and see some nice views from a historic bridge house. Tip: Free admission is offered on Sundays. 

Chicago Water Taxi

We know that there are a lot of boat tours to choose from on the Chicago River, but if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option — the Chicago Water Taxi is where to go. You can get an all-day pass for $10 and ride around downtown as many times as you want (or take it all the way to Chinatown!). 

105 W. Riverwalk South

Art on theMART

Running through Sept. 29, see incredible digital art projections on The Merchandise Mart. The program begins approximately 15 minutes after sunset and this year, you can enjoy Art on theMart every single day. Tip: Try to find a seat at The Jetty (located from Wells to Franklin), an area with small piers and floating wetland gardens, which is the best spot to see the projections from the Riverwalk. 

222 Merchandise Mart Plaza


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