Kayaking in Chicago, kiddie-style

Imagine getting a view of the Chicago skyscape from a duck’s perspective. That is what participants in a kayaking tour of the Chicago River can expect. Dave Olson, the owner of Kayak Chicago, says kayaking is a fantastic family activity adults and kids of all ages will enjoy.

At Kayak Chicago, participants are fitted with life jackets, choose their kayaks and get a beginner’s lesson in maneuvering the boat before setting off on their urban aquatic adventure.

“Our tours are really a one-of-a-kind opportunity for families to see Chicago from this vantage point. Even if you’ve been on the architectural boat tour before, you’ll find that this is really a different experience because you are almost at water level,” Olson says.

Kids are particularly impressed by this perspective.

Olson insists that kids of all ages can participate in the kayaking experience. Any age child can be in a tandem kayak with an adult, but kids need to be at least 12 to paddle a single kayak. Kayak Chicago offers tandem kayaks that have room for two adults and a small child to ride in the middle. “We can make the experience work for any age,” Olson says.

He specifically recommends the architectural tours for families because the experience includes lots of stops and plenty of stories about the history of Chicago, the river and surrounding architecture.

If parents are up for a later night with the kids, the fireworks tour is a big hit. “The fireworks tour is great because you paddle through the city at night. We leave at dusk so everyone can still see their surroundings and get comfortable. As we approach the city, the lights start to come on and then as it gets darker, the real adventure begins. We head down the main branch towards Navy Pier to the mouth of the river, right where the fireworks are taking place,” says Olson.

To ensure a happy experience for everyone, Olson encourages parents to bring along snacks, drinks and sunscreen. He also suggests extras such as binoculars or a disposable camera for daytime or glow sticks for a nighttime tour.

Simply put, “If they are happy, they are more likely to enjoy the experience,” says Olson.

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