Worldwide icon-chevron-right North America icon-chevron-right United States icon-chevron-right Illinois icon-chevron-right Chicago icon-chevron-right The 21 best Chicago beaches
Aerial view of Oak Street Beach, Chicago
Photograph: Shutterstock

The 21 best Chicago beaches

When the sun comes out, there's no better place to be than the best Chicago beaches

By Zach Long and Emma Krupp
Advertising

Note: Chicago beaches will reopen on May 28

Of the many things to love about summer in Chicago, the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan are among the most treasured parts of the season. With 28 miles of freshwater shoreline, the city's east end offers countless opportunities for sunbathing, swimming and recreating—from kitesurfing at Montrose Beach to hiking among the dune-covered nature preserve near the South Shore Cultural Center. Plus, some of the best outdoor bars in Chicago set up shop along the beach for gorgeous waterfront vistas, so feel free to grab a margarita or a cold beer after you finish up your day in the sunshine. We might only get about four months a year to bask in these incredible Chicago attractions, but the best Chicago beaches are here to help you make the most out of the city's glorious warm weather. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Chicago

Best beaches in Chicago

Aerial view of Oak Street Beach, Chicago
Photograph: Shutterstock

1. Oak Street Beach

Things to do Gold Coast

One of Chicago's most popular places to sunbathe, this Gold Coast beach has volleyball tournaments, a restaurant and a spectacular view of the skyline. On your way to this stretch of sand, seek out Jeff Zimmermann's colorful mural "You Know What You Should Do" by the Oak Street Beach underpass—it's meant as a reminder to avoid feeding wildlife and littering.

Amenities: concessions, Wi-Fi, bike rentals, restrooms, lifeguard first aid station

2. Rainbow Beach and Park

Things to do South Shore

Part of the 142-acre Rainbow Park, this South Side beach sits next to one of Chicago's oldest public gardens, the Rainbow Beach Victory Garden. The northern edge of this beach is home to the Rainbow Beach Dunes, a natural area managed by the Chicago Park District that hosts plants and wildlife native to the shores of Lake Michigan.

Amenities: concessions, playground, restrooms, lifeguard first aid station, Wi-Fi, gym, fitness center, handball courts

Advertising
North Avenue Beach
Photograph: Jaclyn Elizabeth Rivas

3. North Avenue Beach

Things to do Lincoln Park

Ever-popular during the summer months, North Avenue Beach features a quirky beach house inspired by a beached ocean liner. Visitors can hit the volleyball courts, grab a snack or rent a bike. Be warned: North Avenue is one of the busiest beaches in the city, so you'll have to stake out your spot on the sand as early as you can.

Amenities: concessions, lockers, Wi-Fi, kayak rentals, jet ski rentals, water sports rentals, restrooms, volleyball courts, life guard first aid station

Margaret T. Burroughs Beach
Photograph: Shutterstock

4. Margaret T. Burroughs Beach

Things to do Bronzeville/Oakland

This South Side beach—known as 31st Street Beach before it was renamed in 2015 for Burroughs, the founder of the DuSable Museum, who was later appointed to the Park District Board of Commissioners—features amazing views of the Chicago skyline in addition to a harbor for small boats. A nearby park includes a picnic area and a public fishing dock.

Amenities: concessions, Wi-Fi, restrooms, lockers, harbor store, picnic area, fishing dock, lifeguard first aid station, playground

Advertising

5. Osterman Beach

Things to do Edgewater

If your friends tell you that they're spending the day at Hollywood Beach, this is where they're headed. Located in Edgewater and named for a beloved former alderman, Kathy Osterman Beach has a silver LEED-certified beach house that was completed in 2010. It's also (unofficially) the LGBTQ+ beach of Chicago.

Amenities: concessions, Wi-Fi, water sports rentals, restrooms, beach house, lifeguard first aid station, 

57th Street Beach
Photograph: Shutterstock

6. 57th Street Beach

Things to do South Side

Located in Jackson Park, one of Chicago's oldest parks, 57th Street Beach is easily accessible via a pedestrian underpass near the Museum of Science and Industry. The beach is also home to Tasty Grill, which serves Mexican dishes, hot dogs and more. Plus, paddleboarding, canoeing and other non-motorized water sports are permitted at the north end of the beach. 

Amenities: concessions, Wi-Fi, restrooms, lifeguard first aid station

Advertising
Oakwood Beach
Photograph: Courtesy Chicago Park District

7. Oakwood Beach

Things to do Bronzeville/Oakland

One of Chicago's newest stretches of sand, this South Side  boasts a restaurant called Lunch Box—which serves Mexican food and hot dogs—as well as a LEED-certified beach house (which, among other environmentally-friendly features, uses rainwater to supply the toilets). 

Amenities: restrooms, beach house, lifeguard first aid station

8. Foster Beach

Things to do North Side

This popular Edgewater attraction offers a beach house with concessions and bike rentals in addition to an adjoining dog beach for everyone's favorite four-legged friends.

Amenities: restrooms, Wi-Fi, beach house, water sports rentals, bike rentals, lifeguard first aid station

Advertising
Montrose Beach
Photograph: Shutterstock/Big Joe

9. Montrose Beach

Things to do Uptown

A fenced-off dog area at this popular Uptown beach provides a place for your pooch to run around. Elsewhere, visitors can play volleyball, sit under an umbrella or take a dip in the lake. Into kiteboarding? That's allowed here, too. Migratory birds flock to an area to the south of the beach in the spring and fall, so don't leave any unguarded snacks on your towel.

Amenities: concessions, beach house, kayak rentals, water sports rentals, restrooms, lifeguard first aid station, wi-fi

South Shore Cultural Center
Photograph: Courtesy Chicago Park District

10. South Shore Beach

Things to do South Side

Situated nearby the beautiful South Shore Cultural Center, this beach has something for everyone. A country club–esque beach house, nine-hole golf course, tennis courts and a sand dune-studded nature sanctuary await visitors.

Amenities: restrooms, beach house lifeguard first aid station

Advertising
327.wk.MemorialDayBeach24.jpg
Photograph: Chandler West

11. 12th Street Beach

Things to do Museum Campus

Make a day of it by visiting this Near South Side beach—located within Northerly Island Park—and then walking to the Adler Planetarium for an array of summer events. You'll often find lines forming at the Del Campos food stand, which is one of the only places to grab a snack on Northerly Island.

Amenities: concessions, beach house, restrooms, lifeguard first aid station, non-motorized boat launch

Ohio Street Beach
Photograph: Shutterstock

12. Ohio Street Beach

Things to do Streeterville

Located within walking distance of Navy Pier and sheltered by the curve of the shoreline, Ohio Street Beach offers calm waters for open water swimmers and amazing views of downtown. The beach itself faces north and is easily accessible via the Lakefront Trail.

Amenities: concessions, restrooms, lifeguard first aid station

Advertising

13. 63rd Street Beach

Things to do Woodlawn

If you need a beach vacay but can't get away right this second, head to 63rd Street Beach and its beach house, where adults and kids alike can rent bikes, use free volleyball equipment and go berserk in the interactive spray fountain.

Amenities: concessions, beach house, restrooms, playgrounds, lifeguard first aid station, non-motorized boat launch

14. Helen Doria Beach

Things to do North Side

Located in Rogers Park, Helen Doria Beach (a.k.a. Columbia Beach) is one of Chicago's hidden gems. It offers great views of the Chicago skyline without the crowds that you'll find on stretches of sand that are closer to the Loop.

Amenities: lifeguard station, restrooms

Advertising

15. Calumet Beach

Things to do

Bordering the Indiana state line, Calumet Beach can be a bit of a trek from elsewhere in the city. The beach connects to a sprawling 200-acre park that offers an artificial turf soccer field and fields for football and softball.

Amenities: concessions, restrooms, lockers, playground, lifeguard first aid station

16. Marion Mahony Griffin Beach

Things to do North Side

Sometimes referred to as Jarvis Beach due to its proximity to the Jarvis Red Line stop, this small Rogers Park beach is frequented by residents of the nearby apartments. Walk out on the small pier for a great view of the distant skyline.

Amenities: lifeguard first aid station

Advertising
Loyola Beach
Photograph: Shutterstock

17. Loyola Beach

Things to do Rogers Park

This beach attracts college students and families and features Lynn Takata's "Windform," a 100-foot-long abstract concrete sculpture representing the movement of water.

Amenities: concessions, restrooms, playground, lifeguard first aid station

18. Leone Beach

Things to do Rogers Park

This Rogers Park beach has a kayak launch and plenty of sandy acres to enjoy. Don't be surprised if you see members of the Junior Lifeguard program training in the lake.

Amenities: playground, restrooms, lifeguard first aid station, tennis courts

Advertising

19. North Shore Beach

Things to do Rogers Park

Another street-end beach near Loyola University in Rogers Park, North Shore Beach is full of families and students sharing a relaxing environment. Catch some rays or take a walk out on the pier.

Amenities: none

20. Lane Beach

Things to do Edgewater

This Edgewater beach, once known as Thorndale Avenue Beach and Park, is connected to a small park and just a short walk away from the much larger Osterman Beach to the south.

Amenities: playground

Advertising

21. Hartigan Beach

Things to do Rogers Park

Formerly known as Albion Beach, this no-frills street-end beach in Rogers Park is a great spot to catch some rays and enjoy the waters of Lake Michigan.

Amenities: playground

Recommended

    You may also like

      Best selling Time Out Offers
        Advertising