An outdoor excursion near a lake or river is a terrific family-friendly activity any time of year. So corral the kids and hop in the car because it’s time to go exploring. Use our guide to discover six awesome waterways around Romeoville, Illinois.

Cruise Lake Michigan

Two children playing on a sailboat.
Image by Sergey Makashin is licensed with Pexels License

City Cruises by Hornblower offers an unforgettable experience on Lake Michigan. You’ll enjoy exceptional views of Chicago’s iconic skyline while you sail along the coast on a luxury yacht. Whether you’re looking for a romantic date night destination or a unique outing with the family, exploring this waterway is a wonderful way to spend time with people you love.

The company also offers dining and sightseeing cruises on the Chicago River, or you can take a thrilling speed boat ride on the Seadog. With the Lakefront Fireworks Cruise, you can enjoy panoramic views of the Navy Pier fireworks show at sunset aboard an open aired vessel. Consider booking a spot on a holiday, like New Year’s Eve. You’ll celebrate the occasion with a three-course, chef-prepared dinner, a full-service bar, and dancing as you count down to 2023.

  • Location: 600 E. Grand Ave. in Chicago.
  • Hours: Vary depending on which cruise you book.

Kayak the DuPage River

One of our favorite ways to explore Romeoville’s waterways is with a kayak or canoe. Launch yours into one of the local streams, like the DuPage River. The best place to access the water is at Hammel Woods. This 445-acre preserve is home to the historic Grinton Mill and provides forest and wetlands for visitors to explore. You may catch sight of a long-tailed weasel along the shore and a variety of plant species, including bitternut hickory, swamp thistle, and white baneberry.

No launch pass is required for canoeing or kayaking when you enter the water from Hammel Woods. Remember that children under 13 must wear a personal flotation device while on the water. Fishing is also permitted at the park, and state and district regulations apply.

  • Location: Black Road in Shorewood.
  • Hours: 8 a.m. to sunset.

Go Fishing at Whalon Lake

The 249-acre Whalon Lake preserve offers access to some of the area’s best shoreline fishing. Its 80-acre quarry lake is well stocked with various species like largemouth bass, bluegill, channel catfish, black crappie, and walleye. Catch and release fishing is encouraged, but daily limits are posted online.

The park is part of the DuPage River preservation system and also features prairie landscapes and wetlands. It offers numerous other amenities, like hiking along a 3.7-mile paved portion of the DuPage River Trail and boating. Naperville Kayak provides a rental program if you need to borrow one. There are two picnic areas, and even a dog park if you want to bring your four-legged friends. Explore the area and discover red mulberry, wild leek, and waterfowl, like ducks.

  • Location: Royce Road in Naperville.
  • Hours: 6 a.m. to sunset between April and October and 8 a.m. to sunset between November and March.

Float Down the Des Plaines River

The Isle a la Cache Preserve is the ideal spot to access the Des Plaines River. This Will County park is a 101-acre riparian island that also features a forest filled with black ash, chinquapin oak trees, prairie, and wetlands. In the 1700s, French traders used the island to cache supplies and goods they got from the Potawatomi. Today, it’s one of the best places to launch a kayak and explore this portion of the river.

The park offers some of the area’s best hiking and cross-country skiing on natural surface trails, shoreline fishing, and picnicking. This waterway is also home to birds like bald eagles, the belted kingfisher, and hooded merganser. Stop by the visitor center before you leave. It’s more like a museum, with fascinating displays of beaver pelts, birch bark canoes, and a life-sized wigwam.

  • Location: 501 E. Romeo Road in Romeoville.
  • Preserve Hours: 8 a.m. to sunset.
  • Visitor Center Hours: Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

Paddle Around Independence Grove

Whether you want to fish, paddle, or take a boat ride, Independence Grove Forest Preserve is the place to do it all on its sparkling 115-acre lake. While Lake County doesn’t allow personal watercraft here, you can rent kayaks, canoes, fishing boats, pedal boats, and stand-up paddleboards to explore the waterway.

Stop by the marina on the south bay of the preserve to pick up your leased watercraft. There’s plenty to choose from, and you can also pick up bait, tackle, and a fishing license. You can also fill up your cooler with drinks and snacks. Try your luck angling for musky, northern pike, black crappie, largemouth bass, and yellow perch with the lake’s mandatory catch and release program.

  • Location: 16400 W. Buckley Road in Libertyville.
  • Hours: The preserve is open daily from 6:30 a.m. to sunset. Marina hours vary seasonally.

Discover the Water at Channahon

Channahon State Park is our final pick for the best waterways to explore around Romeoville. The spot was named after the Native American word for “the meeting of the waters” because it’s the point where the Kankakee, DuPage, and Des Plaines rivers connect. The state’s Department of Natural Resources provides visitors with a close-up look at this historic waterway.

From the park, canoeists can paddle the canal 15 miles to Morris. This route provides both beautiful scenery and the opportunity to spot abundant wildlife. Anglers of all ages will enjoy fishing the rivers for bass, crappie, bullhead, bluegill, and catfish. So grab a pole and your favorite bait, then relax along the water’s edge. Remember that only electric trolling motors are allowed on the water because of the fragile canal embankment.

  • Location: 25302 W. Story St. in Channahon.
  • Hours: 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Well, there you have it. The staff at Crème de la Crème of Romeoville put together this list of the best six waterways to explore around home. Where does your family like to go to access the water? Let us know so we can check it out. We want to continue expanding our list for outdoorsy families like yours.