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The 24 best Chicago beaches

Play volleyball, catch a tan and splash in Lake Michigan all summer long at the best Chicago beaches

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North Avenue Beach
Photograph: Neal O'Bryan

Summertime in Chicago is all about spending as much time outdoors as humanly possible, and we can’t think of a better place to soak up the sun than at Chicago beaches. Sure, you can see your favorite band perform at one of Chicago's summer music festivals or enjoy a cocktail at any of the city’s best rooftop bars, but nothing compares to the beauty of Chicago beaches. You'll find sandy lakefront hangouts all along the coast of Lake Michigan, whether you want to join the hordes at North Avenue Beach or chill out by the South Shore Cultural Center. Chicago beaches are among the best Chicago attractions, but you only get about four months out of every year to enjoy them. Find your swimsuit, pack some sunscreen, bring along some friends and spend an afternoon at one of these Chicago beaches.

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

Best beaches in Chicago

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Photograph: Sara Mays
Things to do

Oak Street Beach

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.

Amenities: concessions, bike rentals, restrooms, lifeguard first aid station

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Things to do

Rainbow Beach and Park

South Shore

Part of the 60-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 will eventually host plants and wildlife that are native to the shores of Lake Michigan.

Amenities: concessions, playground, restrooms, lifeguard first aid station, wifi, gym, fitness center, handball courts

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North Avenue Beach
Photograph: Jaclyn Elizabeth Rivas
Things to do

North Avenue Beach

Lincoln Park

As one of Chicago's most popular summertime hangouts, North Avenue Beach features a unique 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, kayak rentals, jet ski rentals, water sports rentals, restrooms, volleyball courts, life guard first aid station

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Things to do

Margaret T. Burroughs Beach

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, restrooms, lockers, harbor store, picnic area, fishing dock, lifeguard first aid station, playground

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Things to do

Osterman Beach

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 LEED-certified beach house that was completed in 2010. It's also (unofficially) the LGBTQ beach of Chicago.

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

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57th Street Beach
Things to do

57th Street Beach

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.

Amenities: concessions, restrooms, lifeguard first aid station

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The inaugural Mamby on the Beach music festival brought electronic acts and DJs to Oakwood Beach on July 12, 2015.
Photographer: Cousin Daniel
Things to do

Oakwood Beach

Bronzeville/Oakland

One of Chicago's newest stretches of sand, this South Side beach hosts many outdoor festivals and concerts like Mamby on the Beach. A beautiful, vibrant mural by artist Jeff Zimmerman covers the walkway to the comfort station.

Amenities: restrooms, beach house, lifeguard first aid station

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Things to do

Foster Beach

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, beach house, water sports rentals, bike rentals, wi-fi, lifeguard first aid station

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Things to do

Montrose Beach

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. 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

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Things to do

South Shore Beach

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 nature sanctuary await visitors.

Amenities: restrooms, beach house lifeguard first aid station

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Photograph: Chandler West
Things to do

12th Street Beach

Museum Campus

Make a day of it by visiting this Near South Side beach 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

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Things to do

Ohio Street Beach

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, bike rentals, water sports rentals, restrooms, lifeguard first aid station

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Photograph Courtesy: Creative Commons
Things to do

63rd Street Beach

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 kids can kite-surf, 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

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Loyola Beach
Things to do

Helen Doria Beach

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

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Things to do

Calumet Beach

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

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Courtesy: Chicago Parks District
Things to do

Rogers Beach

Rogers Park

Avoid the sunbathing students and head north to this out-of-the-way Rogers Park beach. If swimming isn't your thing, try a few rounds on the nearby tennis courts.

Amenities: lifeguard first aid station

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Things to do

Marion Mahony Griffin Beach

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

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Loyola Beach
Things to do

Loyola Beach

Rogers Park

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

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

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Things to do

Leone Beach

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

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Things to do

North Shore Beach

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

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Things to do

Howard Beach

Rogers Park

Not far from Frank Lloyd Wright's Emil Bach House, Howard Beach features a playground, a shady tree-covered area and plenty of sand for you to lounge on.

Amenities: playground

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Juneway Beach
Photograph: Chicago Parks District
Things to do

Juneway Terrace Beach

Rogers Park

The Park District's northernmost beach gives visitors one more chance to swim before they leave the city limits. The half-block long sandbar doesn’t feature any amenities, but it’s a hidden gem that was likely a private beach before the city took control of the waterfront property.

Amenities: none

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Things to do

Lane Beach

Edgewater

This Edgewater beach is connected to a small park and just a short walk away from the much larger Osterman Beach to the south.

Amenities: playground

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Things to do

Hartigan Beach

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

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