Last summer, temperatures were hardly hot enough to encourage lying around on the beach, let alone jumping in the water. But that'll all be different this time around. Right? Herewith an optimistic list of things to do in, on, or near (yes, there is a remote control option) Chicago's bodies of water. —Sam Worley
Canoeing and Kayaking
Chicago River Canoe and Kayak Saturdays throughout the summer, this Chicago- and Skokie-based business hosts twilight dinner "cruises" where attendees paddle to a riverside park for a picnic supplied by Noon-o-Kebab ($45 per person). Lessons, tours, and rentals are also available. Chicago location: 3400 N. Rockwell, 773-704-2663, chicagoriverpaddle.com.
Kayak Chicago Kayaking lessons and equipment rental, as well as guided tours that include an architectural paddle and a night paddle. Three locations: one on the Chicago River (1501 N. Magnolia) and two on Lake Michigan (Montrose Beach and Leone Beach). Season passes available. Contact owner and lead instructor Dave Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org. kayakchicago.com, 630-336-7245.
Wateriders In addition to kayak rentals, Wateriders offers tours, including a Fireworks Paddle at Navy Pier and a Shady Chicago Tour, in search of the city's "ghosts and gangsters." 950 N. Kingsbury, 312-953-9287, wateriders.com.
Chicago Sailboat Charters The two boats available for charter—that's where you sit back and let a licensed captain sail the boat for you—seat from four to eight people. Amenities include private space belowdecks, easy access to the water, iPod hookups, and more. Bed-and-breakfast charters available. Belmont Harbor, 3411 N. Recreation Dr., 773-663-4645, chicagosailboatcharters.com.
Chicago Sailing Four or five beginners' classes certify attendees to rent their own sailboats. Also: rentals for those already certified, refresher and advanced sailing courses, and charters. Belmont Harbor, 3256 N. Recreation Dr., 773-871-7245, chicagosailing.com.
Come Sailing The regular options for sailboat charter are divided into daytime and nighttime sails, but special events include fireworks sails as well as trips to watch concerts—from the privacy of your boat—on Northerly Island. Monroe Harbor, 708-824-7245, comesailing.us.
Fairwind Sail Charters The options on offer here extend up to the "Summer of Sail Package"—private instruction for two people that includes a summer lease share on one of Fairwind's yachts. Classes and rental are also available. Burnham Park Harbor, 708-442-2670, fairwindsail.com.
Go Sailing Chicago Charters are available seven days a week, so you can sail during the summer's best lakefront events: the fireworks, the Air and Water Show, and more. 400 E. Monroe, 773-710-7245, gosailingchicago.com.
Tall Ship Adventures Two sailing ships, Red Witch and Windy, have room enough to host private parties of up to 49 and 150, respectively. Individual rides and narrated tours are also available. Burnham Park Harbor and Navy Pier, 312-404-5800, tallshipadventuresofchicago.com.