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The Ultimate Guide to the Chicago Riverwalk

Get ready to party — or relax! Here’s the ultimate guide to Chicago’s remarkable Riverwalk, presented by Javi’s Ranch Water.

by Chicago Bucket List


The Chicago Riverwalk is one of the most beautiful and unique features of the city, and it really has something for everyone. From wine gardens to kayaking to art to some of the best picnic spots in Chi-Town, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to the waterfront. 

Now all you need to do is grab some friends, pop a few Javi’s Ranch Waters in your picnic basket, and get ready to make some legendary memories.

Take a look at our picks below:


Enjoy the city’s most epic happy hour by doing a kayak tour through downtown and then grabbing a free beer at Taco Rio!

Where: 435 E Riverwalk South, Chicago, IL 60601
For more information on Kayak and Riverwalk Happy Hour.


Art on theMART
Chicago is actually the home of the largest permanent digital art projection in the world — Art on theMART! From April through December, stop by nightly to see local and international artists’ digital work projected on the iconic building. 

Where: 600 S Wells St, Chicago, IL 60607
For more information on Art on theMART.


The Jetty
If you’re craving a little nature, the Jetty is the place for you. Do some fishing at the pier or walk through the beautiful floating gardens!

Where: 260 W Wacker Dr, Chicago, 60606


Architecture Tour
Chicago has been a major city since it was founded in 1837, so its history is rich — and that’s obvious in its historical buildings. The Chicago Architecture Center offers boat tours so you can see the city in a new way from the river!

Where: 112 E. Wacker Drive, Chicago, 60601
For more information on Chicago Architecture Center tours.


Electric Boat Rental
Get up close and personal with the river by renting an electric boat for the afternoon and cruising around with some friends. 

Where: Various
For more information on Electric Boat Rentals.



Outdoor Spots to Relax

The River Theater
The River Theater acts as a passage between the bustling Upper Wacker and the Riverwalk, and the tiered seating is the perfect place to relax and watch as people hop aboard the Wendella Water Taxi or launch their kayaks into the river. 

Where: Between Clark St. and LaSalle St, Chicago, 60607
For more information on The River Theater.


Mart Plaza
If people-watching is your thing, look no further than Mart Plaza, which is chock full of characters and tourists at almost any time.

Where: 600 S Wells St, Chicago, IL 60607


Southbank Park
If you want to feel like you’re getting an escape from the city while sitting right in the middle of it, enjoy a picnic at Southbank. This is one of the few places you can sprawl out on a grassy, shady lawn while watching the boats go by. 

Where: 600 S Wells St, Chicago, 60607
For more information on Southbank Park.


Riverwalk West End
If chilling on the grass isn’t your thing, you can take advantage of the comfy adirondack chairs along the west end of the Riverwalk. 

Where: 306-370 W Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60654, United States


River Esplanade Park
For a park that’s a little quieter than some of the Riverwalk’s tourist hubs, stop by Esplanade Park. Here you can get some fresh air and watch the tiki cruises come and go from Island Party Hut across the river. 

Where: 401 E River Dr, Chicago, IL 60611, United States
For more information on River Esplanade Park.


RPM Seafood
This multilevel spot offers elevated seafood dishes, delicious pasta, and mouthwatering steaks — plus, their desserts will blow your mind. 

Where: 317 N Clark St, Chicago, 60654
For more information on RPM Seafood.


Pizzeria Portofino
You’ll feel less like you’re in Chi-Town and more like you’re on the Italian Riviera when you dock at Pizzeria Portofino and taste some of their authentic Italian dishes and colorful cocktails. 

Where: 317 N Clark St, Chicago, 60654
For more information on Pizzeria Portofino.


O’Briens Café
Live jazz music and delicious pub fare? What more could you want? 

Where: 45 E Riverwalk South, Chicago 60601
For more information on O’Briens Café.


Sweet Home Gelato
If you need a sweet treat to help you cool off during your stroll down the waterfront, look no further than Sweet Home Gelato.

Where: 151 W Riverwalk South, Chicago, 60601
For more information on Sweet Home Gelato.


Beat Kitchen on the Riverwalk
This seasonal spot is half music venue, half tasty restaurant. With two tiers of riverfront seating, there’s always plenty of room — and since it’s first-come, first-served, you don’t need a reservation to enjoy a meal at this iconic eatery.

Where: 99 E Riverwalk, Chicago, 60601
For more information on Beat Kitchen on the Riverwalk.


River Roast
River Roast’s romantic waterfront patio is the perfect place for date night. You might even catch a glimpse of one of the magical weddings frequently hosted there!

Where: 315 N La Salle St, Chicago, 60654
For more information on River Roast.


Prime & Provisions
This luxurious steakhouse was inspired by the star-studded supper clubs of the early and mid-1900s. 

Where: 222 N La Salle St, Chicago, 60601
For more information on Prime and Provisions.


Blue Bottle Coffee
Blue Bottle’s first foray into the Windy City sits right on the river. If you’ve been to a Blue Bottle before, you’ll be delighted to know they expanded their snack and beverage offerings at this location with the help of Lula Cafe and Hopewell Brewing.

Where: 313 W Wolf Point Plaza, Ste 120, Chicago, 60654
For more information on Blue Bottle Coffee.


The Kitchen
Brunch at this River North American bistro is next-level. Try the brioche doughnut — you won’t regret it!

Where: 316 N Clark St, Chicago, 60654
For more information on The Kitchen.


Smith & Wollensky
This bougie steakhouse dining room lets you sit right over the water and enjoy the views without the breeze while tackling a massive steak.

Where: 318 N State St, Chicago, 60654
For more information on Smith & Wollensky.


Community Marketplace
This unique marketplace sits on the Riverwalk between Michigan Avenue and Wabash and hosts some of the most special small businesses the city has to offer. Try Asian eats from Chiya Chai, pancakes from Batter & Berries, or a luscious pie or quiche from Justice of the Pies. 

Where: E Lower Wacker Dr, Chicago, 60601
For more information on Community Marketplace.


City Winery Wine Garden
You can snag unique sips and some of the city’s best food at this waterfront hole-in-the-wall. Either wait in line for the first-come, first-served seating, or get your picnic goodies at the walk-up window. They even have heated domes to eat in during the colder months!

Where: 11 W Riverwalk South, Chicago, 60616
For more information on City Winery.


Tiny Tapp
Whether you’re craving a cocktail or a coffee, Tiny Tapp has you covered. Grab a beverage and enjoy the view (and maybe even a live performance!) from their outdoor tables. 

Where: 55 W Riverwalk South, Chicago, 60601
For more information on Tiny Tapp.


Island Party Hut
Island Party Hut is the most iconic spot on the Riverwalk to sip tropical drinks. If you’re looking for a truly unique experience, book one of their river cruises on the floating bar or charter a private party boat!

Where: 355 Chicago Riverwalk, Chicago, 60601
For more information on Island Party Hut.


The Northman Beer and Cider Garden
There’s no better place to grab a sausage and a brew than this shady oasis on the eastern portion of the Riverwalk. The huge patio is also family friendly, so bring the kids and the pooch, too!

Where: E Lower Wacker Dr, Chicago, 60601
For more information on The Northman Beer and Cider Garden.


Chicago Brewhouse
Chicago Brewhouse offers a diverse range of foods inspired by various neighborhoods across the city. Enjoy the Lakeview Charcuterie Board or Little Village Elote Placero while sampling some craft beers and taking in the skyline. 

Where: 33 E Riverwalk, Chicago, 60601
For more information on Chicago Brewhouse.


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