Considering that Chicago is the third-largest city in the U.S., it’s easy to lose track of everything there is to see and do. From art museums to zoos, there’s something for everybody.
And then there’s the lake. Lake Michigan is not only the third largest of the Great Lakes when measured by water surface, it’s also the only Great Lake located entirely in the United States. So what’s that mean to Chicago? This: The City of Chicago has 22 miles of shoreline on Lake Michigan.
Of course, you can go to public beaches, and even walk, bike, run, or rollerblade along the 18-mile Lakefront Trail — with its spectacular views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. But to really appreciate Lake Michigan, you need to get out on the water. That way, you can simply hang out with family and friends. On the other hand, you can also cruise along the coast and look at icons of Chicago’s skyline, including the John Hancock Center, Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), Adler Planetarium, McCormick Place, as well as Navy Pier and Buckingham Fountain.
There’s just one problem — you need a boat. And, actually, when it comes to boats, there are a number of problems.
You don’t need to own a boat — or have been a boat owner — to be familiar with the expression “The two happiest days in a boat owner’s life are the day you buy a boat, and the day you sell the boat.” That’s because in addition to the initial cost of the boat, it’s expensive and time-consuming to maintain them. Plus, when the boat eventually needs repair — and that day always comes sooner than expected — the estimate for repairs can be shocking!
Secondly, whether you live in Chicago or the suburbs, or have simply visited, you know how difficult it can be to find a parking space for your car. Finding mooring for your boat isn’t quite as bad, but it can be challenging. While the Chicago Park District operates 10 harbors, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can get a mooring slip in the harbor you like best. Plus, since harbor season runs May 1 to October 31, you’ll also need to find dry storage for your boat — and pay all those associated fees as well!
That’s all fine if you know — or at least think — you’ll be on the lake often. Personally, I realized a long time ago that if I wasn’t on the water most weekends, having a boat just didn’t seem worthwhile. That’s why I like the GetMyBoat boat rental and water experience market: It makes finding a boat to rent or charter easy and quick. From finding a boat you can take out on Lake Michigan for a few hours yourself to chartering a captained boat large enough for a family reunion, GetMyBoat makes finding the right boat and booking it easy.
Here are a number of activities GetMyBoat can help you make special for your family and friends.
Sail Lake Michigan
Boating on Lake Michigan doesn’t have to mean a boat with a motor. In fact, Lake Michigan is one of the best places in the world for sailing. If you are an accomplished sailor, there are vessels you can rent so you and your family or friends can have a fantastic day sailing on Lake Michigan. Here are two examples:
38-Foot Cruising Catamaran
Ranger 22 Sailboat
Try Your Hand At Sailing
Want to spend some time sailing — and maybe even give it a try yourself? This option gives you the best of both worlds. You can sit back, relax, and look at Chicago’s skyline as the captain and crew do all the work. Then, if you also want to learn how to sail, a certified instructor will let you take a more active role. Here is one example:
31-Foot Pearson Cruising Sloop
Let The Captain Do The Sailing
Let’s face it: Lake Michigan can be choppy and sailboats are large, so experience is critical. If you want to spend time on a 36-foot yacht sailing around the lake while you relax and let an experienced captain helm the vessel, there are a number of options to make your day on the water something to remember. Here are two examples:
36-Foot C & C Cruising Monohull
Catalina 36-Foot Sailing Yacht
Feel The Need For Speed (Boats)
If sailing or yachting just doesn’t work for you, or you need something really different, you need to check out a speed boat. Perfect for smaller groups, these captained speed boats are built to keep you safe while sightseeing at high speeds — even while taking tight turns. Here are two examples:
30-Foot Supercharged Speed Boat
36-Foot Formula 330SS Powerboat
Party On The Water
If you’ve never been on a pontoon boat, you have missed an experience! Pontoon boats have a large, flat deck, which allows them to have expansive lounge areas, stand-up bars, and plenty of room for walking around. On a pontoon boat, you can even cruise the Chicago River. In other words, it’s a party boat! Here are two examples:
14-Passenger Captained Pontoon Boat
Trident 38-Foot Pontoon Party Boat
Tiki-Bar On The Water
Have a large group and want to try something really different? You need to charter an island-themed boat with a tiki bar and tables, and a large, uncovered deck for sightseeing and enjoying the weather. In addition to a captain and crew, these boats also have a bartender! Here are two examples:
50-Foot Grand Luau
65-Foot Skipperliner Huge Party Boat
Celebrate In Style On A Yacht
If you want to spend some time on a yacht and are a U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captain, or know a captain, this can be the perfect yachting option for you and your guests. These yachts are perfect for up to 12 people, making them ideal for a birthday, anniversary, or graduation party. Oh, and if you aren’t a licensed captain yourself, don’t worry. The owners can provide you with a list of qualified captains you can hire. Here are two examples:
Mainship Mediterranean 40-foot Express Cruiser
42-Foot Bayliner Yacht
There are yachts, and then there are luxury yachts. If you need a yacht that makes a lasting impression for a memorable event like your anniversary, retirement party, or a small, private wedding, this type of yacht will fit the bill. And to make an event even more memorable, consider a sunset cruise. Here are two examples:
50-Foot SeaRay Yacht
48-Foot Sea Ray Flybridge Yacht
Charter A Party Yacht
You probably aren’t planning on entertaining a really large group right now, but Chicago and the State of Illinois are both relaxing COVID-19 restrictions, and the day will soon come when you can host large parties again. When that day arrives, you need to think about chartering a large luxury yacht. That way, you’ll be able to entertain 20 to 45 guests. This type of charter is perfect for celebrating everything from birthday and anniversary parties to family reunions and wedding parties. Here are two examples:
68-Foot Chris Craft Roamer Power Mega Yacht
60-Foot SeaRay Luxury Motor Yacht For Up To 20 People
Ride A SeaDoo
If you have the need for speed and want to absolutely rip around Lake Michigan for a while enjoying the weather, seeing Chicago’s skyline, and hanging out with a friend or loved one, there’s only one thing to do. You need to rent a SeaDoo for a few hours or even all day. Here’s an example:
2015 SeaDoo Spark
When a captain is not included in the boat rental, you’ll either need to hire a captain yourself or hire a captain from a list provided by the boat owner. Either way, make sure the captain has the appropriate license.
If you choose a bare-boat rental, you’ll need to pay the captain as well. In some cases, there also may be fuel reimbursement and boat cleaning fees in addition to the cost of boat rental. Be sure to determine what all the fees will be in advance to prevent surprises later.
If you’re ready to book your Chicago boating experience, check out the rest of the available boat and watercraft rentals here!