Best Beaches in Chicago to Visit This Summer
Every resident of Chicago knows one thing for certain – Chicago summers can get hot. Yet we all wait around every year for the good weather to finally arrive — to make us forget all the second thoughts we had during the winter about choosing to live here.
While the winters get bad, most people forget how hot Chicago can get. Some weeks break 90 degrees daily, and it’s essential to know all the best spots to cool off.
Luckily, Chicago has a plethora of outdoor activities to do and is known for its incredible beaches. It’s no beach town like San Diego, but it does provide the perfect outdoor setting, especially since they were all closed last summer. Dive into this list of the best places to lounge, tan, and swim in Lake Michigan. Your next summer adventure starts here, just don’t forget your sunscreen!
A personal favorite of northsiders, Foster beach is the perfect beach for an evening swim and chill. As one of the farthest north beaches, it has the best view of the sunset over Lake Michigan because there are no buildings to block the view. The sunsets softly over a few buildings, and you are able to choose sand or grass to set up camp, making it an easy choice when looking for a chill hang. Even lights go on after dark, so you can still enjoy the warmth after the sun sets. Another perk about Foster beach is that it has a parking lot, and if you drive in Chicago you know how important that is!
Just off Lake Shore Drive, Foster Beach is the perfect chill getaway, far from downtown, far from all the crowds of people, and easy to get to.
Just about a mile south of Foster Beach, Hollywood beach is always absolutely packed during Saturday and Sunday in June and July. The crowds are the best kind – everyone enjoying the water and sun. Known for being a hub for the LGBTQ+ community, the beach gets more packed during pride events than normal and becomes its own little hub for Pride events and a community gathering together. A little harder to get to since there is no parking lot, many park at foster and walk the 15 min to Hollywood or bike over.
A much larger beach they often have ice cream people are walking their carts through the sand, and a large public bathroom that has outdoor showers to wash all that sand off you. If you’re looking for a place to celebrate pride, catch some rays, and have a party, don’t sleep on Hollywood Beach.
Oak Street Beach
If you crave being where the action is, Oak Street Beach is for you. One of the closest beaches to downtown, you meet every kind of person here, and the beach is usually packed with families and young people alike. Here you can look up and see the skyline, and look out and see Lake Michigan go as far as you can see. Navy Pier is right down the way, and Oak Street promises to give you that Chicago beach experience that you crave.
One reviewer online says “, it is a popular gathering place for residents and tourists as a summer social spot amidst the hoopla and hubbub of Chicago’s downtown. Food and beverage items are available at the Oak Street Beach Cafe. Beach-goers also can take advantage of many amenities, including swimming, chair rentals, bike rentals, and volleyball rentals.”
Oak Street Beach is a walking/riding-only type of beach with little parking that fills fast, so plan ahead! This beach is also heavily policed, so don’t think about sneaking in your white claws here!
Right off Montrose Harbor in uptown, Montrose beach is another popular location for people living on the northside of the city. More popular and populated than Foster Beach, Montrose is about a mile south of there and provides excellent lake views. It is slightly farther out, located near the harbor, which includes a bird sanctuary, a dunes area, and even Montrose dog beach! Don’t forget to bring your furry friend along when visiting this beach.
There is a parking lot quite close as well as tons of street parking to make this an easily accessible trip. Chicagoparkdistrict.com says, “This popular beach offers patrons amenities that include food concessions, kayak and volleyball rentals, showers and restrooms. There is a non-motorized boat launch. An ADA accessible beach walk is available.” Go visit Montrose and all its local amenities, and of course, don’t forget to bring your furry friend!
North Ave Beach
Pretty much the first and most classic beach you think of when you think of Chicago beaches, North Ave offers you exactly what you are expecting out of a Chicago beach day. Similar to Oak Street (and actually right down the block!) North Ave offers incredible views of the city with close access to, well, North Avenue.
Many call this beach picturesque, making it a desirable spot to watch the sunset or enjoy the skyline on a brilliantly sunny day. As long as you’re fine with crowds, you can’t go wrong with enjoying a sunny day at North Ave.