As if the lakefront wasn't enough to make Chicago completely awesome, the Chicago Riverwalk is amping up the summer fun game. Stretching from Lake Street to Lake Michigan, this 1.25-mile  public boardwalk is lined with restaurants, cruises, docks, and more.

Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is hosting a three-day kick-off celebration that will highlight how much fun you can expect to have this summer. From birdwalks to bottomless mimosas, there's a whole weekend of activities planned.

“Our Chicago Riverwalk celebration offers an extravaganza of music, art, architecture and puppetry,” said Mark Kelly, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. “We invite Chicagoans and visitors to escape the everyday and embrace Chicago from a new vantage point.”

The schedule's below, and all events are free unless otherwise noted.

Related:

Chicago Riverwalk Summer Kick-Off Celebration – Schedule of Events 

Friday, May 18

7:30am Bird Walks – Led by Audobon

99 East Riverwalk

Beginning at the Chicago River Museum/ McCormick Bridgehouse. The walks will take place on select dates through September. Visit chicagoriverwalk.org for details. 

 

 

9:50 a.m.–7 p.m.​ Chicago Water Taxi

105 West Riverwalk

Chicago Water Taxi will have arrivals/departures every 15–20 minutes from 9:50 a.m.–7 p.m. Route connections will include the Metra Stations

(Ogilvie/Union), The Loop, Chinatown, River North, and Streeterville (Michigan Avenue). Use promo code: RIVERWALK when booking tickets online for $3 off your All Day Pass. Promo code is valid online only from May 15–20. Tickets can be purchased on board, on your mobile device, or at any Wendella Ticket Office. For exact schedule details visit www.chicagowatertaxi.com.

 

10 a.m.–5 p.m. McCormick, Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum

99 E. Riverwalk​

Tour the historic bridgehouse and visit the new temporary exhibition, Tender House Project spotlighting the creative possibilities for Chicago’s bridgehouses. The project includes student design proposals from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Master of Architecture Program curated by Mejay Gula, a Chicago architect and educator. In addition, the South Side Home Movie Project will be projecting river-related archival home movies from 1940-70 from 3pm to 10pm on the iconic porthole windows. 

 

10 a.m.–6 p.m. Urban Kayaks

435 East Riverwalk South

Two for one rental special from May 18-20. Tours include:

Historic Chicago Tour at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and Sunset Tour at 6 p.m.

 

10 a.m.–10 p.m. Chicago Electric Boat Company

27 West Riverwalk South 

Enjoy 50% off our 12 Passenger Riverwalk Boat Rentals during the weekend of May 18-20.  Online reservations required at www.chicagoelectricboats.com. Use promo code: RIVERWALK50.

 

11 a.m.–9 p.m. O’Briens Restaurants

45 East Riverwalk South

Enjoy The Mix from old classics to the current chart hits beginning at 5 p.m.

Happy Hour from 3-6 p.m. featuring a $6 special & $6 beer, cocktails and appetizers. For families, face painting for the kids

 

11 a.m.–9 p.m. Island Party Hut and Boat Charters

355 East Riverwalk South​

Enjoy music, bocce, ping-pong, bags, specialty drinks and great food all weekend. Boat charters will be 15% off all three days.

 

Tiny Tapp and Café

  • 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • Cafe Hours: 7a.m.–9 p.m. (Friday)

55 East Riverwalk South

Enjoy one of Chicago's finest DJ's, Jeff Pazen at Tiny Tapp & Cafe at 6:00p.  For full programming information, visit www.tinytapp.com.

Enjoy live music and entertainment. 

 

Noon–4 p.m. Chicago Park District Fishing at the Jetty 

Chicago’s Fish’N’ Kids will teach children and adults of all ages to fish for free, including supplies and instruction. The fishing jetty is located at Franklin and Wells Streets along the Riverwalk.

 

4–5 p.m. Jazz Institute of Chicago  - Jazz Links

At the Jetty between Franklin and Wells Street.​

Jazz Links Ensemble led by Joe Powers

Young Jazz artists perform for opening weekend as part of the Year of Creative Youth. 

 

8:15 p.m. Pyrotechnic Waterfall Display                    

Delight in the grand finale display of pyrotechnic waterfalls along the Riverwalk off of the LaSalle Street, Clark Street, Dearborn Street and State Street bridges.

Saturday, May 19

 

9:00 a.m. Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise aboard Chicago’s First Lady Cruises

Enter for a chance to win river cruise tickets aboard a FREE CAF River Cruise celebrating the Chicago Riverwalk’s season opening! Check out architecture.org/may19 for more information. The winning passengers will depart on the river cruise at 112 East Riverwalk South.

 

9:50 a.m.–7 p.m. Chicago Water Taxi

105 West Riverwalk​

The Chicago Water Taxi will have arrivals/departures every 15–20 minutes from 9:50 a.m.–7 p.m. Route connections will include the Metra Stations (Ogilvie/Union), The Loop, Chinatown, River North, and Streeterville (Michigan Avenue). Use promo code: RIVERWALK when booking tickets online for $3 off your All Day Pass. Promo code is valid online only from May 15–20. Tickets can be purchased on board, on your mobile device, or at any Wendella Ticket Office. For exact schedule details visit www.chicagowatertaxi.com.

 

10 a.m.–5 p.m. McCormick, Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum

99 E. Riverwalk​

Tour the historic bridgehouse and visit the new temporary exhibition, Tender House Project spotlighting the creative possibilities for Chicago’s bridgehouses. The project includes student design proposals from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Master of Architecture Program curated by Mejay Gula, a Chicago architect and educator. In addition, the South Side Home Movie Project will be projecting river-related archival home movies from 1940-70 from 3pm to 10pm on the iconic porthole windows. 

 

10 a.m.–6 p.m. Urban Kayaks

435 East Riverwalk South

Two for one rental special from May 18-20. Tours include:

Historic Chicago Tour at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and Sunset Tour at 6 p.m.

 

10 a.m.–10 p.m. Chicago Electric Boat Company

27 West Riverwalk South 

Enjoy 50% off our 12 Passenger Riverwalk Boat Rentals during the weekend of May 18-20.  Online reservations required at www.chicagoelectricboats.com. Use promo code: RIVERWALK50.

 

10:15 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 2:15 p.m.,4:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. Mercury's Urban Adventure Cruise 

112 East Wacker Drive​

Kids ride FREE all day on our most popular tour! Relax and unwind on our 90-minte Chicago River and Lake Michigan cruise. You’ll enjoy lively narration and stories of Chicago's rich history. It's fun for the whole family! “Kids ride free” offer available for purchase at box office only. Mention "RIVERWALK" to receive. Maximum four free kid tickets per paid adult ticket. 

 

10:15 a.m. FREE Mercury's Canine Cruise

112 East Wacker Drive​

Calling all canines! Our summer Canine Cruise is making an early appearance for a special one-day cruise! Canines and their owners are invited to join us for a FREE 90-minute River and Lake cruise. Sit back, relax and enjoy quality time with your dog as you learn about Chicago’s rich history and architectural marvels. Reserve your space at https://riverwalk-free-canine-cruise.eventbrite.com. 

 

Tiny Tapp and Café

  • 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • Cafe Hours (weekend): 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.

55 East Riverwalk South

Join us at Tiny Tapp & Cafe for a 60-minute yoga class for all levels, hosted by Kate Gisborne from Coconut Yoga (Northcenter), accompanied by Chicago musician Dave Hiltebrand. For full programming information, visit www.tinytapp.com. 

 

11 a.m.–9 p.m. O’Briens Restaurants

45 East Riverwalk South

Enjoy a melting pot of musical influeces with The Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band at Noon and Simple Remedy from 2–5 p.m.

 

11a.m.–9 p.m. City Winery Riverwalk

11 West Riverwalk South

Music featuring DJ Saundra Suave from 3–7 p.m. 

11 a.m.–9 p.m. Island Party Hut and Boat Charters

355 East Riverwalk South​

Enjoy music, bocce, ping-pong, bags, specialty drinks and great food all weekend. Boat charters will be 15% off all three days.

 

Noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Chicago Architecture Foundation Riverwalk West Walking Tours

Enjoy FREE 45-minute CAF docent-led walking tour along the Riverwalk. See some of the city’s newest skyscrapers and learn about the Riverwalk’s history and design. Meet at the Vietnam War Memorial at State Street and Wabash Avenue.  Reservations required ($3 fee) at architecture.org/Riverwalk2018.

Sunday, May 20

9:50 a.m.–7 p.m. Chicago Water Taxi 

105 West Riverwalk

Chicago Water Taxi will have arrivals/departures every 15–20 minutes from 9:50 a.m.–7 p.m. Route connections will include the Metra Stations

(Ogilvie/Union), The Loop, Chinatown, River North, and Streeterville (Michigan Avenue). Use promo code: RIVERWALK when booking tickets online for $3 off your All Day Pass. Promo code is valid online only from May 15–20. Tickets can be purchased on board, on your mobile device, or at any Wendella Ticket Office. For exact schedule details visit www.chicagowatertaxi.com.

 

10 a.m.–5 p.m. McCormick, Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum

99 E. Riverwalk​

Tour the historic bridgehouse and visit the new temporary exhibition, Tender House Project spotlighting the creative possibilities for Chicago’s bridgehouses. The project includes student design proposals from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Master of Architecture Program curated by Mejay Gula, a Chicago architect and educator. In addition, the South Side Home Movie Project will be projecting river-related archival home movies from 1940-70 from 3pm to 10pm on the iconic porthole windows. 

 

10 a.m.–6 p.m. Urban Kayaks

435 East Riverwalk South

Two for one rental special from May 18-20. Tours include:

Historic Chicago Tour at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and Sunset Tour at 6 p.m.

 

10 a.m.–10 p.m. Chicago Electric Boat Company

27 West Riverwalk South 

Enjoy 50% off our 12 Passenger Riverwalk Boat Rentals during the weekend of May 18-20.  Online reservations required at www.chicagoelectricboats.com. Use promo code: RIVERWALK50.

 

10 a.m. Island Party Hut Boat Charters

355 East Riverwalk South​

Bottomless Mimosa Cruise! Sundays are Fundays when you cruise the Chicago River with a bottomless mimosa in hand. The 90-minute cruise is $35. Soda, wine, water, beer, mixed drinks and food is available for an additional cost. For tickets visit, IslandPartyBoat.com or call 312.600.8454.

 

10 a.m.–8 p.m. Chicago Electric Boat Company

27 West Riverwalk South ​

Enjoy 50% off our 12 Passenger Riverwalk Boat Rentals during the weekend of May 18-20.  Online reservations required at www.chicagoelectricboats.com. Use promo code: RIVERWALK50.

 

11 a.m.–9 p.m. Island Party Hut and Boat Charters

355 East Riverwalk South​

Enjoy music, bocce, ping-pong, bags, specialty drinks and great food all weekend. Boat charters will be 15% off all three days – does not include Bottomless Mimosa Cruise on May 20.

 

11 a.m.–9 p.m. O’Briens Restaurants

45 East Riverwalk South

 

 

Tiny Tapp and Café

  • 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
  • Cafe Hours (weekend) 8 a.m.–9 p.m.

55 East Riverwalk South

For family programming stop by Tiny Tapp & Cafe at 2 p.m. for music and family fun.  For full programming information, visit www.tinytapp.com.

 

Make a staycation out of it! Find downtown Chicago hotels near the Chicago Riverwalk