Exploring the Best Beaches in Chicago, IL


Chicago might be famed for its towering skyscrapers, deep-dish pizza, and illustrious sports teams, but the city’s beaches are among its most delightful, yet sometimes overlooked, attractions. Nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago offers a surprising slice of coastal bliss with its array of sandy beaches, making it a favorite summer destination for both locals and tourists. From serene, family-friendly spots to lively stretches filled with activities, here’s a guide to the best beaches in Chicago, IL.

Chicago skyline reflected in water.

1. North Avenue Beach

One of Chicago’s most popular beaches, North Avenue Beach, stands out with its distinctive blue-and-white, ship-themed beach house. Offering stunning views of the skyline and ample space for volleyball, sunbathing, and swimming, this beach is a hub of summer activity. The beach house itself contains facilities like restrooms, showers, and concessions, making it a convenient choice for all-day outings. Whether you’re looking to join a game of beach volleyball, rent a bike, or just soak up the sun, North Avenue Beach is the place to be.

2. Oak Street Beach

Located at the northern edge of the Magnificent Mile, Oak Street Beach offers a unique blend of city and sea with its proximity to downtown Chicago. Its location provides not only breathtaking views of the city’s towering architecture but also a vibrant atmosphere with a lively beach scene. The beach is equipped with chair rentals, food concessions, and a beachside restaurant and bar. It’s a perfect spot for those who want to enjoy the sand between their toes without straying too far from the urban action.

3. Montrose Beach

Montrose Beach is Chicago’s largest beach, offering a more laid-back vibe and plenty of amenities, including kayak and paddleboard rentals. It’s also home to a natural dune area, providing a habitat for native plants and birds. The beach features a dog-friendly area, making it a popular choice for pet owners. With its spaciousness and more relaxed atmosphere, Montrose Beach is ideal for families and anyone looking to escape the bustle of the more crowded city beaches.

4. 31st Street Beach

A gem on the South Side, the 31st Street Beach is known for its cleanliness, modern facilities, and stunning panoramic views of the Chicago skyline. The beach features a marina, a playground for kids, and picnic areas, making it a family favorite. The beach’s promenade is perfect for strolling or biking, and the floating dock offers opportunities for fishing. Its less crowded nature makes it a peaceful retreat for those looking to enjoy the lakefront tranquility.

5. Ohio Street Beach

Situated close to Navy Pier, Ohio Street Beach offers a more intimate setting ideal for swimming and sunbathing. Its location makes it a great spot for taking in views of the city and the pier, and its relatively calm waters are perfect for beginner swimmers. The beach’s proximity to downtown makes it easily accessible for a quick beach getaway. It’s also a favored spot for open water swimming, with lanes set aside for those looking to train or enjoy a long swim.


Chicago’s beaches offer a diverse array of experiences, from vibrant, activity-filled shores to serene spots where nature takes center stage. Each beach has its unique charm, inviting visitors to discover the city’s coastal side. Whether you’re a resident or a tourist, Chicago’s beaches provide a refreshing escape from the urban jungle, proving that the Windy City’s allure isn’t limited to its landlocked attractions. So, pack your sunscreen, grab a towel, and head to one of these beautiful beaches to soak in the Chicago summer at its best.

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