The 2021 Chicago boating season is just around the corner and we’re looking forward to welcoming you back to the Chicago Harbors! Our work crews and staff are currently hard at work preparing the harbors to open and deliver a safe and responsible experience for our customers.

This year, we will continue to prioritize the public’s health during the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to update our customers on any related procedures and changes as soon as we have them.

We believe that the Chicago Harbors represent one of the best ways for Chicagoans to recreate safely outdoors and we want to thank all our customers who, in 2020, helped us lead the way in creating a responsible environment along the lakefront.

Here are the most recent updates from the Chicago Harbors:

Chicago Harbors Opening Day

The Chicago Harbors are currently scheduled to open May 1st with early arrivals permitted with limited services available on April 15th. We will promptly update our customers if these dates change for any reason.

COVID-19 Rules & Regulations

COVID-19 Rules and Regulations for the Chicago Park District Harbors are designed with a continued emphasis on maintaining a safe environment for everyone. As of May 1, 2021 the following rules will be in place:

  • Face coverings will be required on harbor grounds, on all docks, and at all gathering locations.
  • City of Chicago and State of Illinois guidelines will be enforced to the fullest extent.
  • Commercial vessel passenger limits will be in accordance with City and State guidelines. This applies to all US Coast Guard inspected vessels.
  • Recreational vessel passenger limits, including Bare Boat and Six Passenger Charters, will be as following:


Boat Length

Maximum Capacity (2021)

25' and under


 26' – 30'


31' – 35'


36' – 40'


41' – 45'


46' – 50'


51' – 55'


56' – 60'


61' – 70'


71' +



  • Rafting of up to three vessels is allowed in Monroe Harbor, providing all boats are within the prescribed passenger limits.
  • Yacht clubs and concessions shall abide by City of Chicago industry-specific guidelines for these business operations.

Chicago Harbors Safety Precautions

Customers of the Chicago Harbors can expect enhanced safety precautions this season to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 including:

  • Daily cleaning of high-traffic touch points in the Chicago Harbors
  • Sanitizer stations available at dock gates and harbor offices
  • Increased PPE and protective barriers
  • Winter Storage locations will require masks to be worn this spring when individuals cannot maintain a 6-foot distance with other persons

Burnham Harbor Dock Improvements

The installation of new M, N, and O Docks at Burnham Harbor is proceeding on schedule and is expected to be completed before May 1st.

Jackson Park Outer Harbor Breakwater

The construction of the new breakwater at the entrance to Jackson Park Outer Harbor resumed last week and is on schedule to be completed before May 1st.

Winter Damage

The 2020-21 winter was less severe than expected and as a result winter damage to the Chicago Harbors is minimal. As stated above, we expect the harbors to open on time.

Water Levels

Depending on how much precipitation falls this Spring, Lake Michigan water levels look to be almost one foot lower this season. This is especially good news for Jackson Inner, 59th Street, Burnham, and Diversey Harbors who saw significant complications from high water levels in 2020.

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