The Ultimate Guide to the 2024 Discover Boating® Chicago Boat Show®

Mark your calendars because the 2024 Discover Boating® Chicago Boat Show® (in partnership with Progressive® Insurance) is returning to McCormick Place South on January 10-14, 2024. 
Whether you're looking to compare potential boat brands, purchase a vessel, or learn from the pros, this year's show has something in store for everyone. 

Why Attend? 

Boat shows are one of the best ways for first-time boaters to purchase vessels. Why? There are ample opportunities to compare brands and models side by side. Additionally, boat shows have a wide variety of hands-on learning opportunities and activities for the entire family. Not only do these offer a taste of the boating lifestyle, but they're an opportunity to make meaningful connections with other enthusiasts.

What To Expect

The Discover Boating Chicago Boat Show has a variety of must-see exhibits. Here are the top attractions you don't want to miss in 2024:

1. Shop the Industry’s Top Boats & Brands 


Buying a boat at a boat show can't be beaten. Unlike regular boat dealers or brokers, boat shows display various brands and models side by side. So, if you've had your eye on several different options, boat shows are a tremendous opportunity to check them out in person. 

Before you attend the show, browse the boats using our Boat Finder tool!

Chicago Boat Finder

2. Kick It at the Discover Boating Beach Club 

Are you already missing the summer sunshine? The Discover Boating Beach Club will bring it back. Kick back with your crew to enjoy live music, indulge in island-inspired cocktails and mocktails, play beach games, and more. Check out these exciting events at this year's beach club:

  • The Opening Night VIP Party is happening on Wednesday, January 10th, from 5:30 to 8:00 pm at Space P1800! Gain exclusive access to the show, two drinks at the beer and wine bar, groove to the beats of a live DJ, and enjoy a chef tasting. Your participation doesn't just promise a memorable night but also supports a worthy cause—the proceeds go toward benefiting the Alliance for the Great Lakes. Buy your tickets today!
  • Chef Off and Mix Off Competition: Get ready for an exciting culinary showdown with the Boat Apetit Chef-Off and Mix-Off on January 13th and 14th, hosted by radio personality Tone Kapone. Expect Boat Apetit-inspired dishes and drinks tailor-made for easy boat preparation, judged by esteemed personalities like Chicago Bears football legend Izzy Idonije and a lucky audience member. And of course, groove to the beats with live DJ sets from DJ Drea Jay. 

3. Paddle Your Way Through Paddlefest Pool

Have you ever wanted to try stand-up paddleboarding (SUP)? Head to the Paddlefest Pool at the Discover Boating Beach Club! The instructors will provide everything you need to take a test ride.  

4. Take a Ride on the New Bumper Boats

Kids can experience a splash-tastic adventure in our Bumper Boat pool as they spin, whirl, and bump into fellow boaters. It will be a smashing good time, open to children ages 2 to 12.

5. Enjoy Corona's Find Your Beach Bar & Cantina 

Hungry? Or Thirsty? Don't worry—Corona's Find Your Beach Bar & Cantina will put you in a vacation state of mind! It has plenty of delicious casual fare and ice-cold beverages to fuel your boat show adventure.

6. Explore Fred’s Shed How-to Center Presented by Progressive®

Fred's Shed How-to Center is your go-to resource for boating enthusiasts, offering a wealth of tips, tricks, and do-it-yourself advice. Bring all your boat maintenance questions to our knowledgeable tech experts, who are ready to provide free one-on-one consultations. Don't miss this chance to gain insights from seasoned boating professionals!

7. Go Fishing in Huck Finn Trout Pond


Huck Finn Trout Pond is a beloved Discover Boating Chicago Boat Show tradition — for good reason! Visitors can bring their kids to try catch-and-release fishing, which is a terrific way to introduce youngsters to the joys of fishing. All fishing is FREE for children aged 12 years and younger, so swing by the Kids' Corner 1870.

8. Enter the Build a Boat Contest

Are you confident in your boat-building skills? Take your little ones to build a boat from a sheet of aluminum foil. Then, compete with other boat builders to see whose vessel holds the most golf balls without sinking. The winner will receive a one-week boating skills class. This activity is open to kids of all ages, and ages 10-14 are eligible to win the Grand Prize.

Various hands-on STEM activities will also be on display, teaching buoyancy, how winds power sailboats, and how to multiply power with simple machines. Also, don't miss the real rowing skiffs on display, built by kids!

9. Salute Our Heroes

We're honoring our heroes! Active and veteran military, retired/active first responders, and USCG & USCGA members, can join us for FREE admission on Wednesday, January 10, and Thursday, January 11.

Show your valid ID at the Show Office—your military/first responder/USCG & USCGA identification card along with a photo ID—and claim your complimentary ticket as a token of our gratitude for your service.

10. Check Out Antique and Classic Boats

Visit this exhibit showcasing classic boats, a testament to exquisite craftsmanship and timeless beauty. Presented by the Blackhawk Chapter of the Antique & Classic Boat Society of America, it's an opportunity to step back in time and marvel at these vintage boats.

11. Ride the Mechanical Wave Simulator

Catch the wave of excitement with our latest addition: the Mechanical Wave Surf Simulator at Space P1800! Get ready to test your surfing prowess on an actual surfboard, all without a drop of water. Will you conquer the waves and "hang ten," or will you face the challenge of wiping out into the inflatable ocean? It's a thrilling experience waiting for all surfing enthusiasts—come and ride the mechanical wave!

Ticket Information

General Admission tickets are $13 online ($15 at the show) for adults aged 13 years or older. Plus, children are FREE when a paying adult accompanies them. You can purchase your tickets online at the link below.

Buy Tickets Now

Want to skip the weekend rush and save money? Save with our $5 admission after 5 PM deal on Wednesday and Thursday, January 10th and 11th. Enjoy the attractions without the crowds and make the most of your weekday evenings. 

Getting to the Show

Are you planning on driving to the show? Don't worry — there are several parking options available. Lots A and C (enclosed garages) cost $25 until 6 PM. After 6 PM, parking in this lot costs $11. Lot B (an outdoor lot) has a flat rate of $16 for each day of the show. 

So, there you have it, boaters. Hopefully, this post answered all your questions about the upcoming Discover Boating Chicago Boat Show. We can't wait to see you there!

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