What a wicked summer it’s been for weather, Chicago! It’s been quite the roller coaster, but no complaints, we’ve been outside and taking advantage of our city being open. We have just a couple more months to enjoy boating season, so make a plan to get on the water. While there are several tour companies that narrate a memorable trip along our waterways and teach a bit of Chicago architectural history, sometimes you want to steer the course yourself. Read on to learn how Chicago Electric Boat hands over the captain’s hat and allows you to do just that.

About Chicago Electric Boats

Operating since 2012, Chicago Electric Boat Company is Chicago's largest self-guided river boat rental operator. They operate with safety as a core focus, as owner Ron Silvia is a member of the Chicago Harbor Safety Committee and President of Downtown Docks and is a driver in the city's exciting waterfront developments.

Boat Options Available

Their fleet includes eco-friendly private electric boats that create one-of-a-kind opportunities to explore our world-famous waterfront, history-making iconic skyscrapers and moveable bridges from a unique eye-level vantage point.

Renters will find five boat types: all-weather Duffy Boats with fully covered seating areas, Pontoon Boats with adjustable canopies, partially covered Donut Boats that offer 360-degree views of the city, a Vintage Yacht and refurbished 1950s-style Retro Boats for when you want to feel like a movie star.

Each dock has different options available, so which boat type you want to rent will determine the pick-up and drop-off location.

New This Year: Cycleboats

Enjoy a mashup of a boat ride and a bike cruise on a Chicago Cycleboat. Hop on a bike seat set around a table and cycle at your own pace with your friends. The whole boat works together to power the boat as a captain navigates the boat down Chicago River. No worries though, there is a back up electric motor in case you lose steam. 

Where to Rent

Chicago Electric Boat has four different docking stations, with different boating options available at each: Rockwell on the River (3057 N. Rockwell St., Avondale), Marina City (300 N. State St., Near North) or Chicago Riverwalk/City Winery (11 W. Riverwalk S., Loop) and Chicago Water Plaza/Sweet Home Gelato (151 W. Wacker, Loop).

Cost to Rent

The prices vary based on which boat you're interested in and which pick-up location, but prices start at $160/hour. Private cycleboats can be rented starting at $550.

Rather Relax and Drive?

If you'd rather be a back-seat driver vs captain the ship, you can choose to enlist the assistance of a licensed captain or accredited tour guide for an additional charge.

Extras for Kids

Kids receive complimentary activity books to keep them busy while cruising.

Other Helpful Bits

  • Required US Coast Guard safety gear is stocked on each vessel
  • The boating season runs April-November
  • Each boat is equipped with a radio and plug-in, so bring along a device to add a soundtrack to your day
  • You're encouraged to pack food and drinks to fully enjoy the experience
  • There is no age limited, but kids under the age of 13 must wear life vests that are provided at all times
  • To make the best use of your time on the boat, check out the recommended routes and decide which parts of the Chicago River you'd like to prioritize
  • Stops along the river are not permitted, other than the dock you retrieved your boat
  • Bathrooms, or heads, are not on board any of the boats but you are welcome to return to the dock to utilize the facilities
  • Online: chicagoelectricboats.com

    — Maria Chambers

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