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Are you in search of a new urban adventure or just a unique view of the Chicago skyline? If so, check out Urban Kayaks.

I was invited to do an intro paddle yesterday. As an inexperienced kayaker this was perfect for me. The trip was about an hour long and I’m just a little sore today. Kayaking down the river is fascinating, exhilarating, and relaxing. While it is not really a city tour my guide shared some unique stories about the city and the river. Being the smallest boats in the river, she was also very cautious and attentive when we ran into boat traffic, making sure we both stayed clear of the big tour boats, water taxis, and barges.

The skyline view isn’t much different from that on an architecture cruise, but the view of the river is more intimate. We avoided the big boats, but also got a unique view underneath parts of the barges. Did you know some sky scrapers have air vents that pump air into the river, pushing small boats like kayaks into the middle of the water? After maneuvering past a few of those we took in the nature as we passed a few ducks near Merchandise Mart and one bird under a bridge that we couldn’t identify.

If you have never kayaked, but have done another water sport that uses paddles, you will probably pick this up quickly. It’s fairly easy on the Chicago River, but if you are inexperienced and nervous it might help to try kayaking on a smaller lake at first. We did have to stop, row backwards, make some sharp turns, and paddle fast at times. The nice thing is that all the boats really watch out for each other.

I also realized today that I need to work on my form a little. If you are doing it correctly, it should be a great core workout, but I think my biceps are a little more sore than they should be.

The launch dock is great! I was a little nervous at first because I was wearing sandals that don’t have a back strap, but you step into the boat before sliding into the water, so it was not a problem. I highly suggest wearing quick dry pants or board shorts, if you have them. A tank top or t-shirt is fine, your torso will stay dry, but I dripped a lot of water on my lap.

Urban Kayaks has a few packages for beginners and more experienced kayakers. Chose from a city tour, a sunset tour, two fireworks tours, or just rent some boats for an afternoon on your own. If you are ready to try a new urban adventure check them out here: urbankayaks.com.


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