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Oak Street beach in Chicago
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10 best beaches in Chicago

Beach season begins Memorial Day weekend

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Oak Street beach in Chicago
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The water is flowing at Buckingham Fountain, which means summer has arrived. Chicago beaches open Memorial Day weekend and are packed with volleyball players, lifeguards, families, and ice cream carts until Labor Day.

There are 26 miles of clear, open lakefront and plenty to do along the shoreline. Find a quiet spot to read, cookout on the grills, or bike to your favorite spot. If you’ve got a dog, there are a few sandy places to bring your loyal companion too. The Lake Michigan water is chilly, but dive in because the waves are oh so refreshing in the humid summer heat.

We’ll get you started, whether you’re looking to join the crowds or a discover a place off the beaten path, with these 10 beaches in Chicago. Don’t waste any time, winter’s over and we should all be celebrating the warm weather.

Note: This map is arranged from north to south.

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1. Loyola Beach

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This isn’t the most northern beach, but it’s close. Just across from Rogers Park, you’ll cross through Loyola Park before getting to the sandy shoreline. There’s a parking lot, basketball and tennis courts, and playground in the park. On the southern end of the beach near the breakwater there’s a natural dune habitat and a lighthouse.

2. Kathy Osterman Beach

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It’s also known as Hollywood Beach (right near Hollywood Avenue). The wide beach here is usually more low key. If you’re taking the L here, just a few blocks away from the Morse Red Line station is a Whole Foods for last minute snacks or cookout needs. If you want a more active beach day, Chicago Paddle Company rents water sports equipment. You’ll also find the starting point for the Lakefront Trail right where Edgewater Park meets the beach.

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3. Montrose Beach

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Across from Uptown, this beach is linked up with a huge park and there’s tons to do. The park has a boat harbor, golf course, skate park, and migratory bird sanctuary. The biggest bonus to this beach is that there’s a dog-friendly area. A seasonal beach bar, The Dock, serves up burgers and plays live music.

4. Belmont Harbor Dog Beach

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N Lake Shore Dr & Lake Shore Drive Dr
Chicago, IL 60657
(312) 742-7529
Visit Website

This small beach is for dogs only. It is tucked right along the Lakefront Trail and faces docks in Belmont Harbor. Unlike Montrose Beach, this spot is away from people looking to relax on the beach. So, let your dog roll in the sand and run endlessly after balls in the water.

5. North Avenue Beach

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This beach is typically packed with younger crowds and people blasting portable speakers. If you’re looking for lots of energy, this is where to go. Runners and bikers whiz past on the trail, DJs blast music from the boat-shaped Castaways Bar and Grill, and cabanas can be rented at Shore Club. It’s quieter on the north end, and a lot busier the further south you go. Many of the beaches have volleyball nets, but there’s a lot at this beach so many leagues choose to play here throughout the summer.

Beach time

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6. Oak Street Beach

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Across from the Gold Coast neighborhood, this beach is close to downtown. On one side, dramatic high-rises surround the sand. On the other, a clear sky and blue Lake Michigan water. If you’re looking for sun, it’s best to get here early before it sinks behind the buildings. A popular seasonal bar, Oak Street Food and Drink, brings in leafy palm fronds and chairs facing the water.

7. 12th Street Beach

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12th Street Beach
Chicago, IL 60605

This beach is on man-made Northerly Island just south of Adler Planetarium. It’s way from city noise and might be feel more secluded since its a little bit more of a trek (there’s parking and a bus route, but the closest L stop is a 20 minute walk). The Huntington Bank Pavillion hosts concerts in the summer including The Roots, Phish, and Vampire Weekend.

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8. 31st Street Beach

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31st Street Beach
Chicago, IL 60616

Near the Douglas neighborhood, this beach sits in the middle of Burnham Park which has Promontory Point, bird sanctuaries, nature trails, and a popular skate park. Just south at the harbor, there’s a new playground, green-roof picnic area, a public fishing dock, and harbor store.

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9. 63rd Street Beach

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63rd Street Beach
Chicago, IL 60649

This is one of four beaches in Jackson Park. This beach is anchored by a historic, ivy-covered beach house with an interactive fountains for kids. There’s a bike rental company, a kayak launch, and buoys set up for distance swimming. Nearby is the South Shore Cultural Center (there’s a beach here too), where you can play a game of golf or explore the nature sanctuary.

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10. Rainbow Beach Park

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3111 E 77th St
Chicago, IL 60649
(312) 745-1479
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This beach is over in the South Shore neighborhood. It’s connected to a 60-acre park with a fitness center, community garden, basketball and tennis courts, a baseball diamond, and two playgrounds. Not every park and beach has programming, but here you can sign up for sports leagues or day camps.

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1. Loyola Beach

Loyola Beach, Illinois 60626

This isn’t the most northern beach, but it’s close. Just across from Rogers Park, you’ll cross through Loyola Park before getting to the sandy shoreline. There’s a parking lot, basketball and tennis courts, and playground in the park. On the southern end of the beach near the breakwater there’s a natural dune habitat and a lighthouse.

2. Kathy Osterman Beach

Kathy Osterman Beach, Illinois 60660

It’s also known as Hollywood Beach (right near Hollywood Avenue). The wide beach here is usually more low key. If you’re taking the L here, just a few blocks away from the Morse Red Line station is a Whole Foods for last minute snacks or cookout needs. If you want a more active beach day, Chicago Paddle Company rents water sports equipment. You’ll also find the starting point for the Lakefront Trail right where Edgewater Park meets the beach.

3. Montrose Beach

Montrose Beach, Illinois

Across from Uptown, this beach is linked up with a huge park and there’s tons to do. The park has a boat harbor, golf course, skate park, and migratory bird sanctuary. The biggest bonus to this beach is that there’s a dog-friendly area. A seasonal beach bar, The Dock, serves up burgers and plays live music.

4. Belmont Harbor Dog Beach

N Lake Shore Dr & Lake Shore Drive Dr, Chicago, IL 60657

This small beach is for dogs only. It is tucked right along the Lakefront Trail and faces docks in Belmont Harbor. Unlike Montrose Beach, this spot is away from people looking to relax on the beach. So, let your dog roll in the sand and run endlessly after balls in the water.

N Lake Shore Dr & Lake Shore Drive Dr
Chicago, IL 60657

5. North Avenue Beach

North Avenue Beach, Illinois 60614

This beach is typically packed with younger crowds and people blasting portable speakers. If you’re looking for lots of energy, this is where to go. Runners and bikers whiz past on the trail, DJs blast music from the boat-shaped Castaways Bar and Grill, and cabanas can be rented at Shore Club. It’s quieter on the north end, and a lot busier the further south you go. Many of the beaches have volleyball nets, but there’s a lot at this beach so many leagues choose to play here throughout the summer.

6. Oak Street Beach

Oak Street Beach, Illinois

Across from the Gold Coast neighborhood, this beach is close to downtown. On one side, dramatic high-rises surround the sand. On the other, a clear sky and blue Lake Michigan water. If you’re looking for sun, it’s best to get here early before it sinks behind the buildings. A popular seasonal bar, Oak Street Food and Drink, brings in leafy palm fronds and chairs facing the water.

7. 12th Street Beach

12th Street Beach, Chicago, IL 60605

This beach is on man-made Northerly Island just south of Adler Planetarium. It’s way from city noise and might be feel more secluded since its a little bit more of a trek (there’s parking and a bus route, but the closest L stop is a 20 minute walk). The Huntington Bank Pavillion hosts concerts in the summer including The Roots, Phish, and Vampire Weekend.

12th Street Beach
Chicago, IL 60605

8. 31st Street Beach

31st Street Beach, Chicago, IL 60616

Near the Douglas neighborhood, this beach sits in the middle of Burnham Park which has Promontory Point, bird sanctuaries, nature trails, and a popular skate park. Just south at the harbor, there’s a new playground, green-roof picnic area, a public fishing dock, and harbor store.

31st Street Beach
Chicago, IL 60616

9. 63rd Street Beach

63rd Street Beach, Chicago, IL 60649

This is one of four beaches in Jackson Park. This beach is anchored by a historic, ivy-covered beach house with an interactive fountains for kids. There’s a bike rental company, a kayak launch, and buoys set up for distance swimming. Nearby is the South Shore Cultural Center (there’s a beach here too), where you can play a game of golf or explore the nature sanctuary.

63rd Street Beach
Chicago, IL 60649

10. Rainbow Beach Park

3111 E 77th St, Chicago, IL 60649

This beach is over in the South Shore neighborhood. It’s connected to a 60-acre park with a fitness center, community garden, basketball and tennis courts, a baseball diamond, and two playgrounds. Not every park and beach has programming, but here you can sign up for sports leagues or day camps.

3111 E 77th St
Chicago, IL 60649