The Best Beaches in Chicago

Dog Beach Dog Beach

C hicago’s lakefront shoreline is a 28-mile, man-made attraction that travelers enjoy all summer long, and even well into the other seasons. All of the beaches in Chicago are overflowing with history and beauty, and while some are undoubtedly more popular than others, they are all top attractions for both travelers and locals. All of the beaches in Chicago are free and open to the public, so the only question is, which is the right beach for you?


Best Beach for People Watching
The most popular and beach-like of them all is the North Ave Beach. You can easily rent a bike and take a stroll down the paths that run parallel to the water. There are also plenty of restaurants, bars, volleyball courts and places to take a load of and relax in the sand. You’re sure to see people of all kinds here to soak up some sun, so keep your eyes peeled and you’ll undoubtedly see some strange happenings. This is also the best spot if you’re here for the Chicago Air & Water Show – one of the biggest shows of its kind in the world.

Best Beach For Swimming
The Oak Street Beach is one of the most popular Chicago attractions. It’s right at the end of Michigan Avenue, so after a long morning of shopping for the perfect bikini and hat, it’s convenient to head out and start sunbathing before heading back to Michigan Avenue for some happy hour margaritas. Parking is easy for those traveling by car, but it’s just as easy to walk to after sightseeing in Chicago all day, or just to take a break from the city streets. The beach is about 1.5 miles long and it’s one of the best places you can swim – most waters in Chicago beaches are much more shallow than this. It’s often a little less crowded than the North Ave Beach.

Best Beach For Dogs
The Susan Kimmelman Off-Leash dog beach at Montrose Beach is one of Chicago’s only off-leash dog-friendly beaches. Located at the north end of Montrose Beach, and there’s a fenced in area where you enter and let your four-legged friends run free in the sand and water. While the beach is clean, the air is always a bit damp with the scent of wet-dog and it’s wise to watch where you’re stepping (and laying) just in case. Even dog-lovers who don’t have a pooch of their own hang out on the surrounding banks and watch everyone play – it’s a beautiful sight for all!


Dog Beach

Best Beach To Go With Kids
Foster Avenue Beach is the best beach in Chicago when you’re dragging your kids along with you. Parking is easy and there’s handicap ramp access to help with bikes, buggies and strollers as needed. The atmosphere along this beach is filled with families enjoying a vacation or beach day together, and there are outdoor showers that allow everyone to easily rinse off before enjoying all of the other great things to do in Chicago for the rest of their vacation. The beach isn’t too far from many other kid-friendly attractions, making it easy to make room for on a day trip.
Finding a beach in Chicago should be on your list of things to do while you’re here in the summer. Many of the best attractions and hotels in Chicago provide easy access to the water along the 28 miles of lakefront property, so whether you’re traveling alone, with kids or with your dog, you’re sure to find a beach for you!

This article was written by Lizz Riggs, editor of

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