If you’re looking for waterways where you can kayak or fish, the Chicagoland area has several prime locations to do so. Our Crème de la Crème team invites you to explore these nine waterways around Lincoln Park.

The Chicago River

The Chicago River is an ideal spot for experienced kayakers, where you can take in the views of the downtown area. As you travel down the river, you’ll pass various attractions. You’ll see towering buildings and travel under steel drawbridges known as “skyscraper canyons” by locals. The best place to start your kayak route is south of the Loop at Tom (Ping) Memorial Park in Chinatown.

Also, part of the Chicago River is the Wild Mile Chicago, a 1-mile stretch of the river from North to Halsted that is a 17-acre in-stream floating, wildlife-centered educational river park. This urban eco-park is home to abundant plant life and wild birds. Kayaking the Wild Mile is a unique experience you’re sure to remember.

The Loop

This area is Chicago’s version of Manhattan, a bustling urban area within walking distance of the Navy Pier and Millennium Park. It also attracts ample tourists, as it has the largest concentration of hotels in the city. Part of the loop is a lively riverwalk, home to small public parks, sitting areas, and restaurants. At the Riverwalk, you’ll discover places to rent a kayak or book a tour of the Chicago River. This spot is popular with kayakers because it has some of the most spectacular views and is at the city’s epicenter.

River North

River North is the busy loop’s more laid-back neighbor. This spot provides more of an urban escape, offering a quieter, more peaceful kayaking experience. As you paddle, you’ll pass the Merchandise Mart, a famous spot once owned by the Kennedy family, and see some old factories from Chicago’s history. You can rent a kayak or go on a kayak tour with Wateriders, featuring single and tandem kayaks and tours for up to six paddlers.

Montrose Harbor 

Montrose Harbor is the top fishing spot in Chicago with a storied history. On March 22, 2017, Ken Maggiore became the first to catch a burbot and a lake whitefish on the same day, Illinois-record fish. Most fishing occurs inside the harbor, on the breakwall known as the Horseshoe, or around the peninsula.

Depending on the time of year in Montrose Harbor, there’s a variety of fish available, including coho, trout, freshwater drum, perch, chinook, panfish, rock bass, and bluegill. In addition to the fishing, you can take in the best view of downtown Chicago from the south side of the harbor.

WMS Boathouse at Clark Park

WMS Boathouse at Clark Park is one of the city’s most famous kayaking routes. This route is between Clark Park and River Park and provides a quiet escape from city life. You can bring your kayak or rent one from Clark Park Boathouse. This route will take you through beautiful serene spots, allowing you to travel through one of the north side’s largest green spaces, Horner Park. The river banks are lush with deciduous trees, creating a splendid backdrop as you paddle. The optimal kayaking time is within the warmer weather months of spring and summer.

LaSalle Lake

LaSalle Lake is not much of a scenic spot, but it’s where fishing is the main draw. This lake holds the possibility that you could catch a 50-pound fish or catch 50 fish in one trip, making it a spot beloved by avid anglers. Some fish you can catch here include largemouth bass, blue catfish, blues, yellow bass, smallmouth bass, hybrid striped bass, and bluegill. Good fishing is available for boaters and those who fish from the shore.

High winds sometimes close the lake to boaters, so if you’re not planning onshore fishing on the day of your trip, call 815-357-1608 around 6 a.m. to check the status of the lake. Bring your supplies, such as food, drinks, and bait, to make a day of it. LaSalle Lake is open for fishing from March 15 until October.

North Avenue Beach

This popular lakefront beach is at its best in the summer, and on a nice day, the beach attracts bikers, sunbathers, and sport volleyball players. North Avenue Beach is accessible by public transportation and is home to restaurants and small vendors where you can buy everything from snacks to lavish meals. This lively spot on Chicago’s lakefront is ideal for kayaking and differs from kayaking on a river, allowing you to float more and paddle less to enjoy being on top of the water.

Located at North Avenue Beach, Kayak Chicago offers kayaking lessons, kayak rentals, and guided tours suited for those with any level of kayaking skill, from beginners to experts.

Charter Fishing Lake Michigan

Charter Fishing Lake Michigan is the chance for great fishing close to home. Imagine getting a shot holding your catch with the loop as your backdrop. You can expect to find fish, including coho, lake trout, acrobatic steelhead, big brown trout, and occasionally a chinook.

Charters sail out of North Point Marina in Waukegan, Winthrop Harbor, and Chicago, plus DuSablev Diversey, Montrose, and Burnham Harbors. Several different companies charter from these areas. One such company is Windy City Salmon, featuring 5-hour, 6-hour, and 8-hour fishing charters for two to four people.

Monroe Harbor

Located on Lake Michigan just south of the Navy Pier, you’ll find Monroe Harbor, a kayaking spot that boasts a great view of the Chicago skyline. As you paddle the lake, you can take in many of Chicago’s famously well-known and beloved sights. Monroe Harbor borders the museum campus, Grant Park, and Millennium Park. Paddling Monroe Harbor is an iconic experience in a picturesque setting. You couldn’t ask for a better locale to kayak.

Chicago’s waterways are rich in views and plentiful in fish. You’re sure to find a waterway to spend the day kayaking or fishing under the beautiful sky. Our Crème de la Crème of Lincoln Park staff hopes you find time to explore one or more local waterways when the weather allows.