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Chicago Riverwalk reopens Friday

Here’s how to access the hotspot again, and what you’ll be able to do there.

People walk along the Chicago Riverwalk Friday on the first day of its reopening since March, when it was closed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Chicago’s Riverwalk is reopening, just in time for the weekend.

Starting Friday, the Riverwalk will be open to the public from 5 a.m. and 9 p.m., according to the city. Visitors must wear a face mask and maintain social distance from others, and bars and restaurants must space out tables at least six feet apart.

For now, the Riverwalk will only be accessible via Lake Street and through ramps between Franklin and Lake streets and State and Columbus streets.

“All entrances will be guarded by attendants who will be responsible for confirming reservations and counting the number of peopled to ensure capacity limits are not exceeded, while roaming Riverwalk Ambassadors will be monitoring the space to ensure social distancing is being maintained,” the mayor’s office said.

A jogger on the Chicago Riverwalk Friday.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Mayor Lori Lightfoot closed the downtown hotspot, along with the lakefront, Millennium Park, the 606 Trail and other popular gathering places, in March when the coronavirus pandemic hit the city and some residents failed to abide by Illinois’ social distancing guidelines.

To limit crowding, the city has established designated hours for certain activities. From 5 a.m. to 10 a.m., the Riverwalk will be open for running, walking and biking between Lake Shore Drive and Lake Street. At 10 a.m., it will close for cleaning.

Then, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., the Riverwalk’s bars and restaurants will be open by reservation only. Those businesses won’t all reopen at once, but will instead be phased in during the next few weeks. During this block of time, the city said there will also be several “passive recreation areas” for outdoor use.

Bars and restaurants open for reservations:

  • Tiny Tapp & Café - West Dearborn
  • City Winery – East Dearborn
  • Chicago Brewhouse - West Wabash Stairway
  • Beat Kitchen and Community Marketplace - West Michigan Avenue
  • Chicago’s First Lady and Mercury Sightseeing Cruises - East Michigan
  • Urban Kayaks, Island Party, The Northman - Columbus

Limited passive recreation areas:

  • Lake Street and LaSalle Street - Access at Lake Street, ADA ramp between Franklin and Lake or East LaSalle Street
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial - Use State Street ADA ramp
  • Michigan Plaza - Use West Michigan Avenue
  • Columbus Plaza - Use Columbus Stairs
  • Sweet Home Gelato - West LaSalle Street

In addition to the Riverwalk reopening, another Chicago landmark, Navy Pier, reopened earlier this week. The moves are in accordance with Phase 3 of the mayor’s plan to slowly and safely reopen the city’s economy following a more than two-month-long shutdown. Phase 3 also allows for outdoor dining, barbershops, hair and nail salons, outdoor fitness classes, day camps and more.

People walk along the Chicago Riverwalk Friday.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times