Sailing in West Loop

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The 35-foot Alpha Puppy and the 30-foot Sundog could be the names of two extremely long dachshunds, but they're actually the two boats comprising Offshore Adventures Chicago's fleet. Captain Rick, a USCG Master Captain, helms the boats on the company's Lake Michigan cruises, with routes that highlight views of the city's skyline. As he steers, passengers enjoy beverages they brought along and listen to their personal playlists rather than the music of a nearby seagull pecking its xylophone. During the summer, twice-weekly night cruises augment the typical cruise selections and offer spectacular views of the city's fireworks displays.

321 S. Sangamon #810
Chicago,
IL
US

Situated near Chicago Avenue at the Chicago River, Wateriders' experienced and knowledgeable guides have been leading relaxed kayak tours down Chicago?s picturesque waterways since 1997. Day and night tours explore the city's most exciting attributes, focusing on history, architecture, and eerie mob chronicles as guides provide paddling instruction and share true tales of Al Capone's mythical collection of tracksuits. Wateriders also rents its kayaks to independent paddlers who prefer to discover Chicago's sights on their own.

950 North Kingsbury Street
Chicago,
IL
US

In 1935, Albert Borgstrom, a Swedish immigrant and carpenter by trade, set about constructing a 65-foot wooden yacht. He named the ship The Wendella and charged visitors $0.25 to ride through the city and listen to a guide expound on the sights. This simple vessel ended up being a steppingstone, and 75 years later, guests still ride along, now craning their heads back at the jagged opalescent silhouette of Trump Tower and the beehive curves of Marina City. Beneath the evolving skyline, the fleet has expanded to six vessels, which are now run by Albert's grandson, Michael Borgstrom. Wendella staffs a dedicated, in-house education department to keep the city's history alive and make sure that people continue to believe in water so it doesn’t disappear. On special excursions, the crew stocks the boats with wine for tastings beneath the stars or points the vessel through the verdigris waters of the lake to watch evening fireworks shows.

400 N Michigan Ave
Chicago,
IL
US

Gliding across Lake Michigan, the sailing party watches the sun sink beneath the Chicago skyline. As the last rays fade from view, the city's skyscrapers throw their light onto the lake's surface. The captain steers the ship past Grant Park and Millennium Park, and then veers out toward Navy Pier, where the ship's passengers find a prime viewing spot for the Saturday-night fireworks show.

In addition to charters like these, the captains of Go Sailing Chicago—all holding US Coast Guard Master Captain licenses and certifications from the American Sailing Association and US Sailing—furnish beginner through advanced sailors with sailing gloves and life jackets before leading hands-on instruction in proper seamanship. Launching from DuSable and Monroe Harbor, and sometimes other points along the lakeshore, Go Sailing Chicago's four-boat fleet meets or exceeds the safety standards set down by the USCG and the most persnickety of ship-in-a-bottle builders.

400 E Monroe St
Chicago,
IL
US

Brothers Aaron and Asher Gershenzon and friend James Morro grew up in the city, but always possessed a passion for the outdoors. They practiced wilderness kayaking for most of their lives before earning their American Canoe Association certifications on Lake Superior. Each of them brings dual passions for their home city and outdoor sports to the company’s guided group and private kayak trips. Guided paddles change on every outing as guides blend downtown architectural commentary and little-known Al Capone stories with tie-ins to current events. Though each guide tells different stories, often interspersed with humor, all of them focus on environmentally friendliness. Paddling trips utilize a fleet of lime-green Confluence Watersports kayaks, and staffers often wear lime-green shirts—all of which render them easily identifiable from the riverwalk, but well camouflaged in supermarket produce sections.

One guide leads six participants and prepares them with a briefing on paddling techniques, rules of the river, and assurances of the stability of their wide-river kayaks. The guides' watchful eyes and constant advice have instilled confidence in even the most unsure participants, including basketball player Andre Iguodala, who slowly grew accustomed to his kayak by the end of his session. When not guiding trips, staffers provide their single and tandem kayaks to customers who want to explore the river on their own. They extend their easygoing atmosphere to their office—nestled across the river from the Centennial Fountain's Water Arc—where picnic tables stand by the storefront, and the owners' chocolate Labrador frolics inside around a hanging hammock.

270 Chicago Riverwalk
Chicago,
IL
US

A 30-foot sailboat floats across Lake Michigan. It churns through water twinkling with reflections of moonlight, stars, and the Chicago skyline. Suddenly, fireworks shoot into the air, painting the sky above Navy Pier in blooms of red and blue. The USCG–licensed and certified captains at 3rd Coast Cruising create moments like these during private charters and sightseeing tours. They also spend their days leading hands-on lessons that let sailors discover keelboarding or tackle more advanced conditions such as heavy-weather sailing. Launching from the giant wine bottles in DuSable Harbor, 3rd Coast Cruising's fleet also beckons potential captains to compete in sailboat races.

E Lower Randolph St. and N Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago,
IL
US