Summers in the Windy City: The Best Beaches in Chicago

by Eileen Strauss on May 05, 2022

 The Best Beaches in Chicago


The windy city has a whole different look and vibe after Memorial Day when the beaches wake up on Lake Michigan. With over 20 beaches along 28 miles of freshwater shoreline, the city's east end offers countless opportunities for sunbathing, swimming, and having fun. 

Though it only lasts about four months each year, summer is sensational along Chicago’s sunny lake shores.  With endless activities and clean sand, offering everything from dog parks to kayaking, volleyball to paddleboarding, and hiking to biking,  Chicago’s beaches are among the best in the midwest.


Chicago Rooftop Bars


When the sun goes down in the spring and summer months, visitors can take in spectacular views of the Chicago skyline while enjoying a signature cocktail, hanging out with locals,  and people-watching at one of the city’s many rooftop bars. 



#1 Oak Street Beach

N Lake Shore Dr

Oak Street Beach is the perfect summer weekend destination for Chicago professionals looking for a nearby sunny escape after a long week at the office. With the sprawling Chicago skyline as a backdrop,  this Gold Coast beach has volleyball tournaments, an open air restaurant, and spectacular views with a uniquely urban vibe. Locals come to Oak Street Beach in the summer to enjoy the beach's running and biking paths, calm clear waters, and close proximity to downtown shops and entertainment. 

Amenities include: Concession stands, bike rentals, watersports, restrooms, lifeguards, and a  first aid station.  


#2 Rainbow Beach and Park

E 77th St

On Chicago’s South Shore, the 142-acre Rainbow Park 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 10.2-acre 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 include:  Concession stands, playground, restrooms, lifeguard first aid station, Wi-Fi, gym, fitness center, volleyball, and handball courts


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#3 North Avenue Beach 

N Lake Shore Dr

Very popular among locals during the summer months, North Avenue Beach in Lincoln Park features a quirky beach house inspired by a beached ocean liner. Visitors can hit the volleyball courts, grab a snack,  or rent a bike. Because North Avenue Beach is one of the busiest  in Chicago, locals suggest arriving early to stake out a spot in the sand.   

Amenities include: Food stands;, lockers; Wi-Fi;  kayak, jet ski, and paddleboard rentals, water sports, restrooms, volleyball courts, and a lifeguard first aid station.



Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

#4 Margaret T. Burroughs Beach 

31st Street at Lake Shore Drive

A South Side beach, known by locals as the 31st Street Beach before it was renamed in 2015, the beach features amazing views of the Chicago skyline,  a small boat harbor, a  "green roof" picnic area,  and a public fishing dock.

Amenities include: Concessions, Wi-Fi, restrooms, lockers, harbor store, picnic area, harbor, fishing dock, lifeguard first aid station, and playground.


Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

#5 - 57th Street Beach

Lake Shore Drive and 57th Street


Located in Jackson Park, one of Chicago's oldest green spaces, 57th Street Beach is easily accessible via a pedestrian underpass near the Museum of Science and Industry. Home to 57th Street Grill, offering classic summer fare like hot dogs, ice cream, and snow cones, the South Side beach offers paddleboarding, canoeing,  and non-motorized water sports on the north end.

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



 Montrose Beach


#6 Montrose Beach

N Lake Shore Drive between Wilson and Lawrence Aves


A fenced-off dog area at this Uptown beach makes this a popular beach for dog lovers. Visitors can play volleyball, go kiteboarding, relax by the shore under a rented umbrella,  or take a dip in the lake. Warning: 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 include:  Concessions, kiteboard rentals, a beach house, kayak rentals, water sports, restrooms, a lifeguard first aid station, and WiFi. 



#7 Hollywood / Kathy Osterman Beach

Hollywood Avenue and Sheridan Road

The unofficial LGBTQ+ beach of Chicago, Hollywood Beach, also known as Kathy Osterman Beach, named for a popular Chicago Alderman, is located in Edgewater and has a silver LEED-certified beach house. 

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



#8 Oakwood Beach

S Lake Shore Drive and Oakwood Blvd. 


One of Chicago's newest stretches of sand, this South Side beach  boasts a Mexican restaurant, Lunch Box, as well as a LEED-certified beach house with a variety of environmentally-friendly features including rainwater to supply the  restroom facilities.

Amenities include: Restrooms, a beach house, and a lifeguard first aid station





#9 Foster Avenue Beach 

North Lake Shore Dr & Foster Ave

This popular Edgewater beach on Chicago’s North Shore, Foster Beach, is a dog-friendly destination complete with concessions,  bike rentals,  watersport rentals, bike trails, and a beach house with restrooms, and a first aid station.  


Amenities include: Concessions, restrooms, Wi-Fi, a beach house, water sports rentals, bike rentals, and a lifeguard first aid station. 



#10 South Shore Beach

S South Shore Drive and 71st Street

One of Chicago's most upscale beach destinations, conveniently located near the beautiful South Shore Cultural Center, South Shore Beach has something for everyone including an upscale country club style beach house, a nine-hole golf course, tennis courts,  and a sand dune-studded nature sanctuary.

Amenities: Golf, tennis courts,  restrooms, and beach house lifeguard first aid station.


Lake Shore Drive, Chicago

More Chicago Beaches to Explore

  • 12th Street Beach: Within Northerly Park close to the Adler Planetarium

  • Ohio Street Beach: Within walking distance of the Navy Pier

    63rd Street Beach: Interactive spray fountain

    Helen Doria Beach: Fewer crowds

    Calumet Beach: Soccer and football fields near the Indiana Border 


    Chicago Boat Tours


    When in Chicago

    While the Lake Michigan beaches offer endless summertime entertainment, Chicago offers a variety of cultural amenities, fine dining, and one of the poshest shopping districts in the country.


    When visiting Chicago, explore all the Windy City has to offer including:


    • Chicago Boat Tours

    • Feed Your Soul Jazz Brunch - May to August 2022

    • Art on the Mart - May through June 2022

    • Lincoln Park Conservatory: Pillars of Spring

    • Garfield Park Conservatory's Spring Flower Show 

    • Navy Pier Fireworks - every Wednesday and Saturday from Memorial Day to Labor Day

    • Michigan Avenue Luxury Shopping

    • Rooftop Bars


    Michigan Avenue