Top 5 Standup Paddleboarding Spots in Chicago

The city of Chicago provides an sufficient amount of SUP spots for lovers of stand up paddle boarding. It’s not the kind of place where you can go standup paddleboarding year round, but at the right time, you can have a wonderful time on your standup paddleboard in the city. Summer is usually the best time of year for SUP.


Montrose Beach, Lake Michigan

On a day with good weather, Lake Michigan is a great place for newbies to practice balancing and other SUP skills and general paddlers to enjoy a leisure day on the water. Parking could be a problem but it’ll be worth it. Montrose has a beach big enough to even feature a dog beach in it. From here you will even have the skyline of the city of Chicago unfolding before your eyes. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy standup paddle boarding with great views.

 Montrose Beach paddle boarding Chicago

South Lagoon

Lake Michigan is great in good weather condition but it could get really rough for stand up paddleboarding with wind blowing and waves roaring. During such time, you can go to South Lagoon as an alternative. It’s a protected area with calm water and great views for SUPers to enjoy paddleboarding. You can enter the area from Diversey Harbor.

 South Lagoon Chicago paddle boarding

Monroe Harbor

Monroe Harbor can be a great spot to SUP if you don’t want to get too far away from downtown. 12 Street Beach is a great place to launch your paddle board and start your SUP trip. You can get a good look at the city from the water and the flat water allows you to paddle casually without having to worry about falling. You do have sailboats and anchors to accompany you while you are on the trip. If you feel like taking a break, there are restaurants nearby for you to grab a bite. A recommended route is from the Monroe Harbor to the Adler Planetarium.

 Monroe Harbor paddle boarding Chicago

Chicago River

Chicago River is the ideal location for a leisure day of stand up paddleboarding. Unlike Michigan Lake, which could get pretty rough at times, Chicago River is fairly peaceful most of the time. Paddle boarding here in the summertime might not be the best idea since tour boats might get in your way, but if you are okay with that then, by all means, go ahead. The more ideal time to enjoy a peaceful session of stand up paddle boarding is early spring or late fall. The river is pretty empty in the morning so if you head out and arrive early, there’s a good chance you can have the whole river to yourself.

 Chicago River paddle boarding Chicago

Big Bend Lake

If you don’t want the company of other people, head over to Big Bend Lake. It’s located in a fairly unknown place near Chicago so you won’t have to put up with crowds of people or other vessels to get in your way when paddle boarding. You can’t have a nice SUP session without a nice body of water and the water of the Big Bend Lake is clear enough for you to see the wildlife in it.

 big bend lake paddle boarding chicago

In a big city like Chicago, SUP spots are usually abundant. You can choose one according to your own preference. If you are new to stand up paddle boarding, try going online to find a stand up paddle boarding community to find other like-minded people. The company can make SUP more interesting and you can have someone to guide you through the learning process. If you intend to try paddle boarding, choose your first paddleboard wisely. A suitable paddle board could make the beginning much easier and the sport more enjoyable. A suitable choice of SUP brand would be Goosehill or redpaddle.


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