Chicago is a city of two seasons.
I’ve lived in either the greater Chicagoland or the city of Chicago my entire life. We pretty much have two climates. The “it’s too cold to go outside so let’s do lots of indoor activities slash hibernate (and/or drink in bars and watch sports)” season and the “IT’S ACTUALLY SUNNY IN CHICAGO SO WE MUST DO ALL THE THINGS” season.
As you are probably aware, we are in the latter of those seasons right now. Summer in Chicago is personified in a few key elements: street and music festivals, eating and drinking on patios and rooftops (some of my faves here), dodging hoards of tourists in the general vicinity of any landmark whatsoever and the most sought after of them all – spending some time on a boat on the water.
Unless you’ve got a FWAB (a term I’ve coined – also known as “friend with a boat”) on call or happen to own one or do a boat share yourself, it could be tough to get on the water.
Sure, you can rent a kayak or stand up paddle board with relative ease, but one of the best parts of partaking in the aqueous lifestyle is lazily soaking up mother nature and the city skyline in all its splendor, probably while eating and/or drinking, and not having to worry about physical exertion. Enter Wendella Boats specialty cruises.
Note: although this post is sponsored by Wendella Boat Tours, all opinions are my own. I only share products, places and experiences I love and think my readers will love too.
Boat Cruise, or Snooze & Lose
Firstly, any water taxi or architectural boat tour is a perfect way to enjoy a bit of time leisurely cruising on the river or lake. Many architectural tours, in addition to being a really unique way to learn about the city, will often times have a bar and serve snacks. Not only does Wendella offer these architectural tours, they also offer themed specialty cruises to take your experience up a notch.
The Wine & Cheese Cruise, featuring bites and pours from Pastoral Chicago, was amazing. Picture this: not only are you on a sunset boat cruise for two full hours, but you are also basically at a very adult picnic with the wind gently caressing your face, the lake breeze in your hair and a designated driver. Amazing, right?!
One of the coolest parts about Wendella specialty cruises is that while they’re not technically architecture tours, they always have someone on hand to answer your questions. So you will definitely learn something while you are cruising around the city. As if you needed any more reasons to convince HR that this would definitely the perfect spot for your company’s next outing.
Tell Me About The Cheese, Please
Like I said, cruising around on a boat on Lake Michigan doesn’t get much better. But add wine and cheese to the mix? Yeah, mind blown. Pastoral is a local Chicago artisan cheese shop that also offers restaurant fare and wine with a number of locations in the city.
During the cruise, they featured a spread of 5 different types of cheeses, slices of baguette, grapes and dried apricots and figs. The cheese selection included Tomme Grand Mere, 1-Year Gouda, Parmigiano Reggiano, Dalmanitac and Roquefort.
Though I have gotten much more adventurous and loved the Roquefort (a very unique and pungent type of blue), I think my favorite was the Parmigiano Reggiano. They also had a number of different wines to choose from, ranging in reds, whites and rosé, plus a few wines of their own production. Everything, including the staff serving the drinks (who were also full of awesome information and tips regarding the different cheeses, history of production, etc.) was fantastic.
Other Notable Highlights
One of my favorite parts of the tour was going through the lock system to get from the river into Lake Michigan, which I had never done before. As you well know, I am a huge nerd and find this type of thing fascinating. It’s definitely something that should be witnessed in person at least once!
The other highlight of the event was that though we experienced a bit of inclement weather, the cruise was not cut short. We did get a few quick showers while we were out on the lake, but not only did the staff handle everything like absolute pros, us guests had the option to stay completely dry. Our Wendella boat had an enclosed, air-conditioned lounge, which makes planning a cinch (because you know “Type A” is my second middle name and that kind of stuff drives me nuts). No need for a backup plan!
Wendella offers wine & cheese cruises, beer & BBQ cruises, fireworks cruises (for 4th of July, Venetian Night and Halloween), along with St. Patrick’s Day cruises and more. You can check out the full list and schedule, plus more info about the rest of their tours here! You can also follow along with their adventures on Instagram and Facebook.