Transportation by Water: A Guide To Exploring Chicago By Water With Your Child

Guest Authored By Ashley P, MS, CCC-SLP

Blue Bird Day and Transportation By Water Blog

Water travel can be fascinating to adults and children alike. How lucky we are that we get to live in a city built on and for water. With Chicago’s rich water history, the activities for children in the city are plentiful. Not only is Chicago situated on Lake Michigan, it also has the Chicago River running straight through the city, branching as a connection for the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River. Water experiences are also a great way to build your child’s expressive, receptive, and pragmatic language skills. Receptively, your child can learn new vocabulary about boats and water, follow directions given by the boat’s crew, and identify scenery pointed out by the captain. Expressively, your child can comment and inquire about all the new sights and tell others about their fun experience. Pragmatically, your child will build social skills by exploring new environments with new people and following social rules for being a passenger on a boat. Check out the following warm weather, child-friendly water activities that are available in the wonderful city of Chicago!

• Chicago Water Taxi: This inexpensive, easily accessible boat is a great way for children to see the city from the river from spring through fall. Both professionals commuting to work as well as tourists getting an inside look at the city use this means of transportation. Water taxis have various pick-up points, leaving from the heart of the city branching north to North Avenue and south to Chinatown. A 10-ride pass can be purchased for $20.00.

• Wendella Lake & River Tour: The Wendella boats are family-friendly and offer various sightseeing cruises throughout the day, spring through fall. Wendella tours have been operating since 1935 and are a great way to show your little one the big city. Children will love the experience of riding on the upper deck; with water below them and tall skyscrapers above them.

• Tall Ship Windy: This is Chicago’s very own pirate ship that is fun and education for children. This cruise leaves from Navy Pier and offers special rides that target tales of real-life pirates! Tall Ship Windy has a striking appearance with giant sails that will undoubtedly intrigue your child.

Chicago River Kayaks: This is a truly unique way to see the city by water with your child. Renting a two-person kayak with your child is available spring through fall and gives your child an opportunity to be co-captain. Rides can be one hour or more and are a great way to see buildings, other watercraft, and ducks and fish as well.

• Chicago River Walk: If you’re interested in exploring water transportation with your child but do not want to board a boat yet, spending time on the Chicago River Walk is a great way to introduce your child to various boats and water travel. The River Walk has benches, cafés, and playgrounds from which to observe the hustle and bustle on the river.