Paddle Chicago: Stand Up Paddle Boarding in the South Lagoon

Lincoln Park is an amazing city park just east of the northern neighborhoods in Chicago and west of Lake Michigan.  On any given summer day, you'll find locals playing softball, basketball, frisbee, tennis, soccer, jogging - pretty much anything active.  The Lincoln Park Zoo is located on the southern end of Lincoln Park and is free to the public.  The South Lagoon is just east of the zoo and has some of the most amazing paddle views in the city.  The water is always calm enough to paddle and if you venture north under the Fullerton bridge into Diversey Harbor, you can access Lake Michigan.

The South Lagoon

The South Lagoon

There are a few different ways you can paddle the South Lagoon:

  • Diversey Harbor Boat Ramp - Diversey Harbor is an approved launch location on the Lake Michigan Water Trail.  This is a great option to paddle the South Lagoon if you own a board and are looking for a launch point.  Parking is available in a lot for a fee or free on the street.

  • Chicago SUP - This is the only SUP rental option on Diversey Harbor, which leads into the South Lagoon.  The north end of the harbor also has some pretty spectacular views of downtown, so there is plenty of area to paddle with a rental.

  • Lincoln Park Boat Club - This club has a dock that sits directly on the South Lagoon.  It's the only place in the city offering rowing as well as paddling and SUP.  The Lincoln Park Boat Club (LPBC) doesn't rent SUP boards, but has membership options.  When you are a member, you can use any of the SUP boards whenever you want - they are open 24/7!   

I recently signed up as a member of LPBC because, although I love my inflatable SUP, the boat club has an array of different SUP boards from novice to competitive that are fun to play with and easily accessible!  It's also a nice option in the winter when it may seem a bit cumbersome to pump up your inflatable SUP in the freezing cold.  They don't provide dry or wet suits, but if you have your own, winter paddling is a reality with membership here.

Lincoln Park Boat Club Launch

Lincoln Park Boat Club Launch

Paddling from Diversey Harbor towards the South Lagoon

Paddling from Diversey Harbor towards the South Lagoon

The South Lagoon is a great option for SUP when Lake Michigan is too windy for an enjoyable paddle.  The calm waters and beautiful city skyline views are the reason this made my list as one of the top spots for SUP in Chicago.  Don't forget to paddle under the bridge and through Diversey Harbor - the north end of the harbor has one of the best skyline views in the city.  With these spectacular views and the option to access Lake Michigan, the South Lagoon is a great option for paddling in the city!