No trip to Chicago is complete without visiting the waterfront. Boat tours down the Chicago River provide an incredible way to explore the city. Here’s what to know when planning your boating adventure.

Safety First

Even though boat tours should be fun and relaxing, you must remain vigilant about safety. The best tours are the ones in which everyone returns to shore happy, healthy, and ready to go boating again soon. The captain of your boat should be licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard. Pay attention to the location of life vests and first aid kits. General boat safety rules are also important and should never be disregarded or ignored.

Weather plays a big role in boat safety, so consult the forecast ahead of time. There’s a good reason that Chicago is called the Windy City. If there’s significant rain or wind predicted, consider postponing your boat trip. Ask the tour company about its weather cancellation policy. Increase your boat safety by arriving prepared for your tour. Wear sunscreen and non-skid shoes. Bring medication if you’re prone to seasickness.

Great Food

Boating snacks serve two purposes. First of all, they’re delicious. In addition, keeping food in your stomach is a great way to fend off seasickness. You don’t want to be too hungry or too full. Many boat tours provide extensive buffets. If not, ask if you can bring along your own food. Hearty bread is a great choice for keeping your stomach calm.

Chicago is known for its bagel bakeries, and these round rolls make a perfectly portable snack to eat on your trip. Deli sandwiches and pieces of whole fruit are other good choices. You may want to save greasier treats for after your boat ride. Consider stopping on the way back to your hotel for a classic Chicago meal like deep-dish pizza or Italian beef sandwiches with giardiniera.

Great Company

When you’re planning to take a Chicago boat trip, you’ll have to decide if you’d like to join a public tour or book a private excursion. Public tours give you opportunities to meet new people, but you won’t have control over who’s in your party. Before you purchase tickets for a public boat trip, think about what kind of setting you’d enjoy.

Family tours are a great choice if you have kids with you, but seek out an adults-only trip if you’d prefer a party atmosphere. Private tours cost more and usually require a minimum number of guests, but they let you choose exactly who’s with you on the trip. When planning a private excursion, pick friends who will appreciate the focus on your outing. For example, if your goal is to see famous Chicago landmarks like Willis Tower, invite friends who are into tourism and architecture.

Taking a boat tour is one of the best ways to explore the city of Chicago. With proper safety precautions, delicious food, and fun friends, you’ll make unforgettable memories out on the water.

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