Get a sense of the culture and character of the Windy City by wandering along the Chicago Riverwalk. This scenic stretch of the city follows the banks of the Chicago River from near the edge of Lake Michigan through Downtown to where the river splits. As you follow the walkway, pass impressive bridges, fascinating museums and trendy dining spots.
Chicago’s river is most famous for the time, in the late 19th century, when city planners reversed its currents to improve sanitation. Visit today to see the riverfront transformed from a polluted industrial area to a popular leisure destination. A team of engineers and architects began work on designing the area to make the most of the revitalized atmosphere by the waterfront. It was formally named the Riverwalk in 2012.
Learn more about the history of the area in the McCormick Bridgehouse and Chicago River Museum, which pays particular attention to the 18 movable bridges that cross the waterway. Head to the top of the bridgehouse for views of the river, these historic bridges and the dramatic skyline of the city.
Take a boat tour that leaves from the waterfront and drifts through the center of the city or simply stroll along the Riverwalk. Pass sights such as the neo-Gothic headquarters of the Chicago Tribune and the iconic Wrigley Building. Modern skyscrapers of glimmering glass and steel stand alongside these historic landmarks.
Spend your evening dining at one of the restaurants along the Riverwalk. Sampling the city’s famous deep-dish pizzas is an obvious choice, but you can also try seafood, steaks and Italian food, among other options.
Listen for live music as you explore the Chicago Riverwalk. In summer, the waterfront hosts an array of musicians playing for passers-by.
Visit the Chicago Riverwalk in the morning for a quiet and relaxing way of seeing the city. Come back in the evening to see the area lit up beautifully, as the bars and restaurants come to life with patrons enjoying a night out. The Riverwalk is a public space, open throughout the year and free to explore.