Ahoy, Windy City! Your Deep Dive into the Chicago Boat Show Spectacle

Boating enthusiasts, mark your calendars! There’s one event that has Chicago’s saltwater community buzzing with anticipation – the highly anticipated Chicago Boat Show 2024.

This annual gathering is not just another entry in the long list of boat shows. It’s an unparalleled celebration of all things boating, uniquely catered to the vibrant spirit of Chicago.

Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a novice explorer, the Chicago Boat Show offers you a chance to dive into an immersive world where every ripple and wave echoes with adventure and excitement.

So, are you ready to set sail on this informative voyage about the Chicago Boat Show? Keep reading to dock at a harbor brimming with useful tips, insights, and more to amplify your boating show experience.

Anchoring the Details: Location and Time of the Chicago Boat Show

Welcome to a prime nautical event—the 92nd Annual Progressive Insurance Chicago Boat, RV, and Sail Show. Between January 10 and January 14, you’ll be able to explore this vast boating and outdoor showcase at your leisure at McCormick Place 2301 S Lake Shore Dr
Chicago IL 60616..

The exhibition kicks off with the following hours:

  • Wed 2 pm – 8 pm
  • Thu 11 am – 8 pm
  • Fri 11 am – 8 pm
  • Sat 10 am – 8 pm
  • Sun 10 am – 5 pm

With hundreds of boat models to inspect, it’s no surprise it’s the premier boat show in Chicago. Don’t leave it until the last minute; check the schedule and grab your tickets now to experience the biggest boating spectacle of the year!

Get on Board: How to Purchase Your Chicago Boat Show Tickets

If you’re planning to attend the Chicago Boat Show, securing your tickets is a breeze. Simply visit the event’s official website, chicagoboatshow.com, and navigate to the section dedicated to ticket purchases.

Adults (those aged 13 and above) can snag a general admission ticket for just $13 if purchased online, or $15 if bought at the event. Interestingly, children aged 12 and under get to enjoy the show for free, that is, as long as they’re in the company of a paying adult. It’s an excellent opportunity for the whole family to engage in nautical fun.

For a truly exclusive experience, consider purchasing VIP Chicago Boat Show tickets for the opening night party. It’s not just an entry ticket, but a treasure trove that includes full access to the show, a pair of invigorating drinks, a taste-testing session led by a renowned chef, live music from a DJ, and much more.

Activities that Float Your Boat: Fun Things to Do at the Chicago Boat Show

Five exhilarating days await you at the Discover Boating Chicago Boat Show 2024, a lively event packed full of entertainment for boat lovers and land enthusiasts alike. Whether you dream of steering your own boat, reveling in the tranquility of a beachside oasis, acquiring vital upkeep tips from experienced captains, or exploring more, it’s all here at the show.

Shop Til You Drop for Your Dream Boat

Browse over 1,000 boats and yachts from top brands like Sea Ray, Avalon, Four Winns, and more. Unlike a traditional boat dealer showrooms, here you can compare different makes and models all under one roof.

If you’ve been researching multiple options online, use this chance to step aboard in person. Sit behind the helm, stretch out in the cabin, and envision your next on-water adventures before committing to the perfect vessel. With major discounts only offered onsite, you’re sure to score a sweet deal to set sail this season!
Soak Up Summer Vibes at the Beach Club

Already daydreaming of sunnier days? Transport to the tropics at the Discover Boating Beach Club. Sip fruity cocktails and people watch from the tiki bar while reggae bands provide festive island beats.

Challenge friends to volleyball, cornhole toss and other vacation-worthy games for some competitive fun. Belly up and fuel your afternoon with tacos, nachos and other beach bites between test drives. This oasis offers breezy waterfront relaxation until you’re ready to get back to boat shopping!

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Test Drive Stand-Up Paddleboarding

Always wanted to try balancing on a paddleboard? Now’s your chance! Head to the Paddlefest Pool at the Discover Boating Beach Club to take a stand-up paddleboard for a spin under guidance from trained instructors.

No experience needed – they’ll provide boards, paddles, and tips to get you upright and riding the mellow currents across the pool. Feel free to take a few inevitable splashes as you find your sea legs. You’ll be riding the board with ease in no time during this risk-free trial run.

Make Waves on the Bumper Boats

Kids ages 2-12 can take the wheel of their own boat for wet and wild fun on the bumper boat pool. These floating cushions spin, whirl, and soak riders as they gleefully crash into friends and strangers alike.

With pool noodles added around the edges for extra bumping action, little captains can ping pong off each inflatable obstacle while getting drenched. Pack a spare change of clothes to enjoy an afternoon navigating the bumper boats!

Refuel at Corona’s Beachside Cantina

All that walking and boat browsing working up an appetite? Refuel with a taste of paradise at Corona’s Find Your Beach Bar & Cantina. Pull up a beach chair for island vibes with Coronas, margaritas and other tropical sippers flowing from the open-air bar.

Tacos, nachos, quesadillas and more mouthwatering bites will reenergize you between expo halls. With steel drums setting a festive mood, this is the perfect pitstop to unwind bayside before getting back to your nautical shopping mission!

Get DIY Tips at Fred’s Shed

Fred’s Shed is every boating enthusiast’s dream, with free pop-up seminars on key boat maintenance topics all show long. Bring your most pressing questions about winterizing engines, fixing pesky leaks, removing tough stains and other DIY dilemmas.

Seasoned captains and mechanics will provide their pro tips and tricks during one-on-one consultations. Take advantage of hands-on demonstrations for replacing weak motors or touching up faded paint. You’ll leave far more confident to take on basic repairs yourself thanks to insights from the real pros!

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Catch Your First Fish at Huck Finn Pond

No boat show would be complete without the beloved Huck Finn Trout Pond! This catch-and-release fishing experience lets kids discover the thrill of reeling in their first big one.

Expert anglers will help bait hooks and provide poles and pointers to coach newbies ages 12 and under. Take home bragging rights along with photos of your kid’s prized rainbow trout. With all equipment provided free of charge, this is the perfect chance to kickstart a lifelong love of fishing on the water!

Set Sail at the Boat Building Challenge

Think you’ve got what it takes to be a boat engineer? Bring the kids to design and construct their own aluminum foil vessels, then compete to see whose floats the most golf balls.

Open to children of all ages, this friendly competition rewards creative design principles and solid construction. The 10-14 year old captain of the winning battleship will score a week of boating safety classes.

While you’re there, kids can get hands-on with various interactive STEM exhibits demonstrating buoyancy, wind power, simple machines, and more. Marvel at finely crafted wooden row boats made by young new builders – these masterpieces float for real!

Dockside Delights: Nearby Dining Options for the Boat Show Chicago

Getting ready for the Chicago Boat Show? Don’t forget about food! There are plentiful concession stands offering a variety of food and drinks right at the show.

If you want to venture out a little, an array of restaurants are just a stone’s throw away. Whether you’re in a hurry or have time for a leisurely meal, you will find everything from fast-food to fine dining spots.

So, let’s discover the delightful mix of nearby eateries offering everything from classic seafood dishes to innovative fusion cuisines near the Chicago Boat Show.

The Walnut Room – Chicago

The Walnut Room offers a nostalgic dining experience inside the historic Marshall Field’s building on the Magnificent Mile. Its century-old décor and stained glass ceilings create a picturesque setting.

Enjoy American classics like walleye, steaks, and their signature chicken pot pie under warm holiday lights. It’s a perfect blend of ambiance and delicious dishes.

Aba – Chicago

Embark on a flavorful journey at Aba, a lively Mediterranean restaurant. With an open kitchen and interactive chef’s counter, it specializes in shareable small plates.

Savor traditional Turkish treats, succulent kebabs, and fresh salads. Let Aba’s diverse menu and buzzing atmosphere transport you to the vibrant Levant.

Costera Cocina Tulum

Escape to a coastal paradise at Costera Cocina Tulum, inspired by the ease of Tulum, Mexico. The inviting atmosphere features eye-catching décor and comfortable swinging rattan chairs.

Indulge in fresh ceviches, wood-fired fish, and Baja shrimp tacos, capturing Mexico’s coastal culinary traditions. Enhance your experience with smooth, refreshing margaritas, turning a meal at Costera into a sweet city getaway.

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Gibsons Italia

Experience a twist on traditional steakhouse dining at Gibsons Italia, set against vibrant ambiance and stunning riverfront views. This bustling eatery combines the best of steakhouse fare with an unexpected Italian flair.

Indulge in premium chops, fresh seafood, and delectable house-made pasta dishes like orecchiette Bolognese and sausage rigatoni. Gibsons Italia offers a chic and contemporary dining experience.

Cafe Bionda

Step into Little Italy at Café Bionda, a cozy Euro-style café offering pastries, fine wines, and Italian snacks. Enjoy a bottle of Chianti with a variety of paninis, imported cheeses, and quaint bites like arancini and focaccia.

Choose between snug indoor seating or relax on the patio for a true European dining experience. Café Bionda invites you to savor the charm of Little Italy in every bite and sip.

Smooth Sailing: Tips and Tricks for the Best Chicago Boat Show Experience

Once you’ve got the basics handled, like where you’re going and when, and have snagged your tickets, it’s crucial to know how to make the most of your Chicago Boat Show experience. Here are some expert tips to help you navigate the spectacle smoothly and ensure you make the most of your nautical delights:

  • Plan Your Route: Before setting foot at the venue, it’s a great idea to check out the show’s layout and identify any exhibits or stands you want to visit. This will help you manage your time effectively.
  • Dress Appropriately: Keep in mind this is an indoor and outdoor event. Layer your clothing to be prepared for any weather; comfortable shoes are a must as you’ll be walking and standing a lot.
  • Arrive Early: The show can get crowded, especially on weekends. Arriving early not only allows you to find parking easier but also lets you enjoy the event before the biggest crowds pour in.
  • Take Breaks: Don’t forget to periodically find a moment to rest throughout your day. Take a break to unwind, grab some nourishment and chew over what you’ve seen so far with your companions. I
  • Have An Open Mind: There will be a wide variety of boats and accessories on display. Going in with an open mind may introduce you to styles or brands you hadn’t considered before.
  • Ask Questions: Exhibitors are there to answer your queries. Let their knowledge guide you to the perfect choice or new discoveries. Don’t be shy!

With these tips in hand, you’re well-prepared to enjoy the Chicago Boat Show. So take a deep breath, step aboard, and immerse yourself in the wonderful world of boating. It’s a voyage of discovery you won’t forget anytime soon!

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Chicago Attractions

360 Chicago Observation Deck

After a thrilling nautical adventure at the Chicago Boat Show, continue your voyage into the skies at 360 Chicago Observation Deck. This 94th floor vista offers breathtaking 360 degree panoramas from over 1,000 feet up in the iconic John Hancock Building.

Towering views stretch across Navy Pier, the sparkling lakefront, and four states on a clear day. Interactive exhibits let you glimpse city sights through telescopes and even virtually “stand” on glass ledges jutting out from the building exterior.

Mix refreshing cocktails or snacks at their stylish bar as you soak up bird’s eye perspectives of downtown and beyond. From sailing Lake Michigan to soaring above its shores, embark on a complete Windy City expedition all in one monumental day!

Medieval Torture Museum

Travel back in time at the dark and disturbing Medieval Torture Museum, revealing the horrifying devices once used to inflict unimaginable pain. Enter if you dare to discover early implements designed to crush bones, skin victims alive, and disembowel the human body in unthinkable ways.

View deadly punishing contraptions like the head crusher, iron maiden, judas cradle and the rack among the collection’s gruesome highlights. Learn the spine-chilling history of methodical maiming endorsed by religious inquisitions under the guise of securing confessions or public obedience.

From branding tools to spiked choke collars, the creative cruelty of these ancient artifacts induces both horror and fascination. While difficult to stomach at times, this chilling exhibition in the heart of Chicago offers an eye-opening glimpse into the barbarity of the justice system’s past.

Art Institute of Chicago

Step into the halls of an American art icon on this expert-led highlights tour of the Art Institute of Chicago. Follow your insightful guide to view renowned Impressionist pieces and other masterworks from all eras over the museum’s collection of over 300,000 objects.

Learn what sets this revered Midwestern institution apart as you connect personally. With Monet’s dreamy canvases, the Chicago Stock Exchange’s grand trading room interiors, Edward Hopper’s iconic Nighthawks and more fan favorites.

In just 2.5 hours, this customized journey explores 5 floors of global creative brilliance spanning 5,000 years. Don’t just visit, get an inside look at the stories and style behind the Art Institute’s global impact.

Charting Your Course: Navigating the Chicago Boat Show

Don’t miss the boat on this oceanic opportunity! The Chicago Boat Show promises an immersive voyage for salty dogs and landlubbing newbies alike.

Chart your course early to soak up all the activities, from test drives to fishing ponds, alongside tasty bites and drinks at bayside bars. Make time to meander the aisles, chat with captains and designers, and relish each small discovery along the way.

More than a mere exhibition, this show is a carnival for ocean lovers – an oasis of aquatic delight in the heart of Chicago.

Whether you’re scoping your first boat or adding to your fleet, let the tides of this nautical wonderland sweep you away. Adventure awaits at the Chicago Boat Show!


Start Date:

January 10, 2024 @ 2:00 pm CST

End Date:

January 14, 2024 @ 5:00 pm CST





Chicago IL Events

Chicago, IL United States


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Written by Archie Villaflores

Over the years, he has won numerous national contests for news and editorial writing, but he has recently discovered that his true passion...

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