My trip to Maine was the first time I’ve gone kayaking, but I was almost-immediately in love. So when Isha wondered if anyone wanted to go kayaking while she was in town, I was all over that. We went with Urban Kayaks, on their Historic Chicago tour.
I know Isha from my days on Tumblr and internet friends become real life friends pretty easily when brunch is involved.
Pancakes are always bringing people together, you know.
Kayaking on the Chicago River was, at first, a bit more intense than I had anticipated, so I’m glad we went with a tour to start. With all the architectural tour boats, and other boat traffic downtown, it was good to have a few seasoned kayaking instructors with us to manage navigation. They did a great job of teaching us the necessary skills to manage it though without being dramatic – much more fun than stressful, I promise.
Our overall experience with Urban Kayaks was pretty good. Everyone was super friendly and the historical tour aspect of the trip was engaging and interesting. They had three instructors out with us, which is good as we were a pretty big group. That part became a bit frustrating near the end – not everyone picked up kayaking at the same speed. I spent a lot more time braking to avoid other kayaks than being able to steer while moving forward. Based on my only other experience kayaking, I did expect a smaller group based on the cost of the trip.
I would use Urban Kayaks again for a tour though – with the expectation that it’ll be kind of an easy, calm, fun trip. It’s a little pricey, but there are not many “cheap” tourist activities in Chicago. I would say, even, it’s imperative that your first time kayaking on the downtown portion of the river is with a tour group. Until I own my very own kayak, I will definitely rent from these folks, too.
Note: all photos courtesy of Isha T. as I refuse to even try to take photographs with my camera phone anymore.