5 of the Best Chicago Dinner Cruises

by Bridgette Redman  |  Published June 4, 2023

With Lake Michigan and the Chicago River an integral part of the environs, the Windy City is the perfect setting for sunset dinner cruises–or for any meal throughout the day.

(Photo: Fireworks Gourmet Dinner Cruise / Courtesy

Cruises are a popular activity in Chicago, many offering tours of the architecture and landmarks, dives into local history and legends or an opportunity to dance and dine. Whether you are heading out at the break of dawn for a gourmet breakfast or enjoying the beauty of a sunset dinner cruise, Chicago’s waters and yachts beckon. From the decks of the boat, you can view architecture, play table games or watch fireworks. We’ve selected five delicious opportunities to dine on the waters and take in the city.

Fireworks Gourmet Dinner Cruise

The Odyssey wants to sweep you away on a night of fine dining and entertainment. The Captain and crew greets guests as they arrive for their sunset dinner cruise and the ship’s photographer takes their pictures. Guests are then seated at a private table to start their three-hour cruise with a three-course gourmet meal featuring a constantly changing menu curated and prepared fresh onboard daily.  Guests can then move to any of the three climate-controlled decks to dance to live music under the stars. The cruise caps off with a viewing of a fireworks display over the Navy Pier. From $176.

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Fireworks Buffet Dinner Cruise

(Photo: Fireworks Buffet Dinner Cruise / Courtesy

If a buffet meal is more your style than a sit-down gourmet dining experience, the Odyssey has options for you that still include dancing under the stars, fireworks and the beauty of a sunset dinner cruise. Plan a romantic night out or time with friends with this three-hour cruise on Lake Michigan up and down the Chicago shoreline. Buffet options include salad choices, vegetables, potatoes, pasta, seafood and meats, all curated by an executive chef. From $146

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Lake Michigan Gourmet Brunch/Lunch/Dinner Cruise

(Photo: Lake Michigan breakfast/lunch/dinner cruise / Courtesy

For early risers and those searching for mid-day events, the Lake Michigan Gourmet Brunch/Lunch/Dinner Cruises aboard the Spirit of Chicago offer options to fit any schedule. The cruises take passengers along the Lake Michigan coast for panoramic views of Chicago’s distinctive skyline. The observation deck offers 360-degree views from which passengers can observe such iconic landmarks as Grant Park, the Willis (formerly the Sears) Tower and Navy Pier. Gourmet meals are available for early risers, brunch seekers, the lunch crowd and the dinner set. Each cruise offers plated gourmet meals, unlimited coffee and tea and a live DJ providing dance tunes. From $81.

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Premiere Chicago River Dinner Cruise

(Photo: Chicago River Premier Dinner Cruise / Courtesy

Head into the heart of downtown as you traverse the Chicago River on a romantic sunset dinner cruise. For three hours, you’ll observe some of Chicago’s most iconic landmarks such as the Tribune Tower, the Willis Tower, Civic Opera and Wolf Point. The experience includes a three-course meal with entertainment provided by DJs. You have the option of upgrading to a surf and turf meal and imbibing microbrews, creative cocktails and wines from the full-service bar. Unlimited coffee and hot tea is included. From $198.

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Chicago Signature Dinner Cruise on Lake Michigan

(Photo: Signature Dinner Cruise / Courtesy

Head to the Navy Pier where you can embark on this luxury sunset dinner cruise and spend three hours dancing, dining and sightseeing. The boat travels through Lake Michigan, sailing up and down Chicago’s coast. Highlighted sights include Buckingham Fountain, Soldier Field, Navy Pier and the Willis (formerly the Sears) Tower. Eat your fill at the gourmet buffet and carving station before headed out to the docks to dance to DJ music, enjoy the shared spaces and play interactive games. From $136.

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