Have a romantic adventure-date; kayak the Chicago River

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the parenting column ·

Meet Charlie Portis, owner of Wateriders: Chicago Kayak Tours and Rentals. This man, and his team of affable urban cowboys, will guide you over powerboat-created wakes, under iron bridges and down the Chicago River alongside some of Chicago’s most impressive architecture. While on the tour, you’ll stop at a few key spots to learn about Chicago history, structural design and the dark mysterious stories that make our city so interesting. Slicing through the water makes you feel like you’ve really accomplished something. Kayaking is a bit of a workout, the duck-view of the city is incredible and the insider’s information is brilliant: no run of the mill tour spiel here. All in all, this water-lovers jaunt is a perfect date.

“Even after almost 20 years of paddling downtown, I still find it thrilling to paddle the Chicago River,” Portis said. “The visual experience is ever changing: day to night, spring to summer and with new buildings arising in waves of development.”

Portis has about 19 years of paddling experience under his belt; he started the journey with a folding kayak that he bought for home use and for trips around the world to Hawaii, Alaska, Thailand, Jamaica, Florida and San Francisco, among other places.

“I discovered that whenever I paddled the Chicago River, people expressed curiosity about paddling downtown,” Portis said. “So, I created the tour by reading books, talking to architects and drawing on knowledge I had gained after ten years in Chicago commercial real estate, leasing buildings like the Sears Tower.”

Portis has found a way to combine his two great passions: kayaking and Chicago architecture; his love of the two really translates into inimitable enjoyment for those on the tour.

“It is a genuine experience that puts paddlers in the seat of the Native Americans paddling here hundreds of years ago. And, to experience Chicago from the peaceful platform of a sea kayak is to view our magnificent architecture from a truly unique and special vista.”

From tyro to expert, this tour is for everyone.

“It’s a great thrill to teach a novice kayaker paddler the necessary skills and watch them successfully navigate a paddle downtown,” Portis said.

If you’re looking for a fun date idea, this is it. Book your trip for the two-and-a-half-hour Wateriders Classic Chicago Kayak Tour or the nighttime Shady Chicago: Ghosts and Gangsters of Hustlertown Tour. The season ends as soon as the nice weather does. For more information, visit www.wateriders.com.

“Paddling on one of our tours is a great choice for couples nights or date nights and it’s a great way to see the city. In short, it’s a rewarding adventure,” Portis said.