Memorial Day celebrations are this weekend and you might be thinking about enjoying the recently warm weather on the lake. Chicago is a large city with plenty of activities for the holidays. If you love water and you’re tired of grilling and having picnics every year on Memorial Day, then renting a boat might be the perfect alternative. Chicago offers so many great water sports and activities for holidays, summers, or just whenever you feel like it. So, I am going to go over three boat rentals in Chicago that could be perfect for this weekend. 

Chicago Boat Rentals 

1177 N Elston Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

Dubbed Chicagos top-rated gas-powered boat rentals, Chicago Boat Rentals allows you to be your own driver which is great if you’re looking for a private party with your own captain. And if you’re in the mood for a drink, you can either BYOB drinks and snacks, or the rental can provide that for you. They also offer two boat options, pontoons or a yacht. Pontoons don’t require captains, meaning you are the driver (as long as you are 21+ and have a valid driver’s license) and they are super easy to drive. Chicago Boat Rentals will even train the driver so they know exactly how to operate the boat. Yachts require a crew and will be purchased/booked separately. 


One thing to keep in mind when you are booking your reservation: they do not offer refunds, even if it is raining. They operate even if it’s raining. The only way it could be canceled is if the manager deems that the weather is too dangerous. In that case, you can reschedule or receive a gift card. If you must reschedule, a $20 fee will be issued if 48 hours before the reservation, $50 if 24 hours before, and $100 if on the same day. 

Also, something else to keep in mind is that if you are reserving a pontoon, they are only allowed to be driven and enjoyed on the Chicago River. The lake is too dangerous for pontoons and can cause them to flip over. So, don’t try to be the hero because if you’re caught on the lake you could be issued a ticket by the Coast Guard or fined by CBR. 


As with any rental, there are certain fees that will be assessed if something goes missing. SO be sure to check out their website. If you are worried about something, it is recommended to purchase their $15 insurance. 

So if you’re interested in booking a boat, visit here to view your boat options and check on available dates. Pontoons cost anywhere between $275 to $489 for two hours. And a yacht charter costs $1200 for 3 hours on the river and $2500 for 5 hours in the playpen/ Lake Michigan. It is recommended to visit the website to check for additional fees, if any. 


Boat Setter

Okay, so this one is a bit different than the previous boat rental company. Boat Setter is a company where you can search online and get connected with boat owners to reserve a time to take THEIR boat/yacht out. This is not a physical location in Chicago, it’s almost like AirBnB but for boats. I wanted to include this because I think we all know that Memorial Day is going to be busy and you might not be able to book a boat through one of the other companies. This is a great alternative to that. 


Rentals include insurance so you know you are safe. If you don’t have experience driving a boat there is an option to be connected with the captain and crews as well. You also don’t need to be a “member” of Boat Setter to be able to rent and drive the boat. To drive you must be 25 years old, have a boat setter account (free to join), no criminal convictions, no driving convictions, and no boating insurance claims against you. Below you will also find a price breakdown of fees associated with renting: 

Boat price: This is the rate price the owner sets for a booking.

Captain fee: All bookings with a captain include a captain fee at checkout unless specified otherwise (in which case the captain may request being paid at the dock). This fee is reflected in the price of the booking when a captain is selected.

Renter service fee: A service fee is charged on each rental. The service fee is applied to the price before any coupons or credits are applied. This fee helps Boatsetter provide a safer and more secure booking experience, as well as dedicated customer support throughout your charter. 

Renter insurance fee: While all boats have rental insurance, select boats may require additional insurance to book. This fee helps cover the cost of insurance.

Taxes: Some US states require Boatsetter to collect a tax for rentals that take place in those states. 

Security deposit: A security deposit is held on the renter’s card to cover any incidental damage or lost items. The hold is placed on the card 48 hours before the rental and is released 48 hours following the conclusion of the rental if no claim has been filed. 

Visit here to sign up for a free account and see a list of boats available to book in Chicago. There are currently 16 boats available with prices ranging from $185 to $1,800. 

Click and Boat 

Click and Boat is also like Boat Setter. You can find a boat that is available to rent based on search criteria. Renting a private boat is great because you can avoid typically crowded boat tours and find a large range of boats, from motorboats to large catamarans to set sail in and around Chicago. 

In Chicago, boat charter prices range depending on a variety of factors. Such as the age and size of the vessel, the duration and the season of the rental, as well as if additional requests are made such as captain, crew, and water sports equipment. So when choosing the right boat for your trip, be sure to consider these to stay within your budget.

Pontoon boat rentals in Chicago start at $280/2 hours and may accommodate 8 guests. Rent the largest chartering catamaran in Chicago for $1000/day suitable for 13 people. Motorboat rentals cost about $3,100/day with 12 people on board- the perfect party boat! On Lake Michigan, the average cost of a fishing charter starts at $900/day for 6 guests. If you are looking for an adventure, diving charters start at $130/diver.

Visit here for a complete list of available boat rentals for Memorial Day weekend. 

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