10 Best Beaches in Chicago for Sun, Sand, and Surfing in 2021

10 Best Beaches in Chicago for Sun, Sand, and Surfing in 2021

Discover the Top 10 Chicago Beaches to Soak Up the Sun and Surf in 2021

Chicago’s beaches are a favorite spot for locals and tourists to soak up some sun, play in the sand, and enjoy some time out on the water. With 26 miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan, there are plenty of beaches to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly spot, a place to go surfing, or just a quiet place to relax, Chicago’s got you covered.

Here are the 10 best beaches in Chicago for sun, sand, and surfing in 2021. From North to South, these beaches offer something for everyone. So grab your sunscreen, towel, and beach chair and discover the best spots for some fun in the sun on Chicago’s beautiful lakefront.

So let’s dive in and explore the top beaches Chicago has to offer. These beaches are perfect for those who wish to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and get some fresh air by the lakeshore. From swimming to paddleboarding, these beaches provide a wide range of activities to make your beach day enjoyable and unforgettable.

North Avenue Beach

North Avenue Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Chicago due to its lively atmosphere and scenic views of Lake Michigan. Visitors can indulge in a range of water activities such as swimming, surfing, and paddleboarding. The beach also features volleyball and basketball courts, making it an ideal summer spot for sports enthusiasts.

North Avenue Beach is also known for its stunning skyline views and historical architecture. The beach is surrounded by the John Hancock Center, the Willis Tower, and several other iconic Chicago landmarks. The beach is also home to the 50-foot tall cast-bronze sculpture, “The Gateway”, which adds to the overall visual appeal of the beach.

The beach is easily accessible by car or public transportation. There are several restaurants and snack bars located nearby, offering a wide range of delicious treats such as hot dogs, ice cream, and pizza. North Avenue Beach is open from early morning until late in the evening, making it a great spot to catch the sunrise or sunset.

Address: 1600 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60613
Phone: (312) 742-PLAY (7529)
Hours: 6:00 am – 11:00 pm, daily

Overall, North Avenue Beach provides the perfect getaway for those looking to soak up the sun, enjoy the sandy beach, and partake in some exciting water sports. Its proximity to several popular Chicago landmarks and historical architecture makes it an attraction that can’t be missed when visiting the city.

Ohio Street Beach

Located in the heart of the city, Ohio Street Beach is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. With stunning views of the skyline and Lake Michigan, it’s the perfect spot to soak up the sun and go for a swim.

The beach has a wide stretch of sand for sunbathing, and the water is clean and clear for swimming. There are also opportunities for volleyball, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding.

For those looking for a bite to eat, there are several food and drink options along the beach, including a beachside cafe and a bar with live music. And if you want to take a break from the sun, there are nearby attractions like Navy Pier and the Chicago Riverwalk.

Ohio Street Beach is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day and is free to the public. It’s a must-visit spot for anyone looking for a beach getaway in the heart of the city.

Montrose Beach

Montrose Beach is one of the largest beaches in Chicago, offering a wide expanse of sand and surf. Located on the city’s North Side, this beach provides a haven for sunbathers, swimmers, and surfers alike.

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With its beautiful views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline, Montrose Beach is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. In addition to swimming and sunbathing, visitors can enjoy playing volleyball or strolling along the beachfront promenade. The beach also features a playground and dog beach area, making it a great place for families with children and pets.

For those who want to hit the waves, Montrose Beach offers excellent surfing conditions. The beach is home to the Chicago Surfing Association, which provides surf lessons and board rentals. Whether you’re an experienced surfer or a beginner, Montrose Beach is a great place to catch some waves.

During the summer months, Montrose Beach hosts a variety of events and festivals, including concerts and outdoor movie screenings. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder why Montrose Beach is considered one of the best beaches in Chicago.

Osterman Beach

Osterman Beach, located on the north side of Chicago, is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. This beach offers a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of the city with its peaceful setting and beautiful lake views.

At Osterman Beach, you can enjoy swimming in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Michigan or soaking up the sun on the soft white sand. The beach also offers a variety of water sports, including kayaking and paddleboarding.

If you’re looking for a break from the beach, take a stroll along the nearby walking and biking paths or indulge in a delicious meal at one of the many nearby restaurants.

Overall, Osterman Beach has something for everyone, making it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the Windy City.

10 Best Beaches in Chicago for Sun, Sand, and Surfing in 2021

12th Street Beach

Located in the heart of the city, 12th Street Beach is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. With stunning views of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline, this beach is perfect for sunbathing and swimming. Visitors can also rent kayaks and paddleboards to explore the lake.

  • Beach amenities include restrooms, showers, and food vendors
  • Free entry

Overall, 12th Street Beach offers the perfect combination of urban amenities and natural beauty.

Foster Avenue Beach

Foster Avenue Beach is known for its spacious, clean sands and gentle waves, making it a popular spot for swimming, beach volleyball, and watersports. This beach is perfect for families, as it has restrooms, concessions, and plenty of space for building sandcastles or relaxing in the sun.

The beach is also close to the Foster Avenue Beach House, a historic landmark that offers changing rooms, showers, and lockers for beachgoers. Along with its natural amenities, Foster Avenue Beach also offers stunning views of the Chicago skyline, making it a great spot for photoshoots and romantic walks along the shore.

  • Activities: swimming, sunbathing, beach volleyball, watersports, photography
  • Amenities: restrooms, concessions, beach house with changing rooms, showers, and lockers
  • Location: 5200 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60640

Overall, Foster Avenue Beach is a great option for those seeking a relaxing day at the beach, as well as those looking for fun activities and amenities. Be sure to stop by on your next trip to Chicago!

Calumet Beach

Located on the southern side of Chicago, Calumet Beach is a hidden gem that offers a serene and peaceful atmosphere away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The beach boasts a vast expanse of soft sand and crystal-clear waters, making it an ideal spot for sunbathing and swimming.

Calumet Beach is also popular among surfers, thanks to its consistent waves that provide the perfect conditions for surfing and windsurfing. Visitors can also enjoy a game of beach volleyball or have a picnic in the designated picnic area.

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The beach is well-maintained and offers amenities such as washrooms, showers, and concession stands that serve snacks and drinks. There is also a parking lot available, so visitors can easily access the beach.

  • Activities: Sunbathing, swimming, surfing, windsurfing, volleyball, picnicking.
  • Amenities: Washrooms, showers, concession stands, parking lot.
  • Location: 9801 S. Avenue G, Chicago, IL 60617.

If you’re looking for a tranquil escape from the city, Calumet Beach is definitely worth a visit. With its stunning views and peaceful atmosphere, it’s no wonder why it’s considered one of the best beaches in Chicago for sun, sand, and surfing in 2021.

Oak Street Beach

Oak Street Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Chicago, located in the Gold Coast neighborhood. With its crystal clear water, soft sand, and perfect waves, it is a great place for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing. This beach offers breathtaking views of the Chicago skyline and is a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike.

This beach is known for its wide range of activities, including beach volleyball, paddleboarding, and jet skiing. There are also plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars along the beach, making it a perfect spot for a day out with friends and family. The beach is also easily accessible by public transport, with several bus and train stations nearby.

For those who love people-watching, Oak Street Beach is an ideal destination. You can enjoy watching the vibrant crowd of beachgoers, sunbathers, and surfers. It’s also a great place to spot celebrities, as it’s a popular spot amongst the rich and famous.

  • Location: 1000 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60611
  • Hours: Open daily from sunrise to sunset
  • Amenities: Showers, restrooms, rental services, restaurants, and bars
  • Activities: Swimming, sunbathing, surfing, beach volleyball, paddleboarding, jet skiing

Juneway Beach

If you are looking for a quieter beach option, Juneway Beach might be the place for you. Located on the northern edge of Chicago, this beach tends to be less crowded than some of the other beaches on the list, making it the perfect place for a peaceful day by the water.

Juneway Beach also offers stunning views of Lake Michigan, as well as a charming boardwalk that runs along the shoreline. Visitors can take a stroll on the boardwalk, enjoy a picnic in one of the nearby green spaces, or even take a dip in the water if they are feeling daring.

  • Beach amenities: No official beach amenities, but there are nearby bathrooms and picnic areas.
  • Swimming: Swimmers should exercise caution, as there are no lifeguards on duty at Juneway Beach.
  • Surfing: While not necessarily a surfing destination, some visitors have been known to catch waves at Juneway Beach.
  • Parking: There is a small parking lot near the beach, as well as nearby street parking.

If you are looking to get away from the crowds and enjoy a peaceful day by the water, Juneway Beach is the perfect choice. With its charming boardwalk and stunning views, this beach offers a unique beach experience that you won’t find anywhere else in Chicago.

Indiana Dunes National Park Beach

Indiana Dunes National Park Beach is a beautiful stretch of sand that extends for 15 miles along the southern shores of Lake Michigan. The beach is located just a short drive from downtown Chicago, making it an ideal destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Visitors can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking on the beach, as well as hiking, camping, and fishing in the nearby dunes.

Indiana Dunes National Park Beach is also home to a variety of wildlife, including over 350 species of birds. In the spring and fall, visitors can witness the migration of these birds as they travel along the shores of Lake Michigan. The beach is also home to a number of rare and endangered plants, including the Pitcher’s Thistle, a species of wildflower that is only found in the Great Lakes region.

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If you’re looking for a place to stay near Indiana Dunes National Park Beach, there are plenty of options available. Visitors can choose from campgrounds, hotels, and vacation rentals in the nearby towns of Chesterton, Porter, and Valparaiso. There are also a number of restaurants and shops in the area, as well as several outdoor activities like kayaking, biking, and horseback riding.

  • Location: Portage, Indiana
  • Facilities: Restrooms, changing areas, showers, picnic areas
  • Activities: Swimming, sunbathing, hiking, camping, birdwatching, fishing
  • Best for: Families, nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or an action-packed adventure, Indiana Dunes National Park Beach has something for everyone. With its stunning natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and endless recreational opportunities, it’s no wonder that this beach ranks among the best in Chicago.

Questions & Answers:

Is it possible to swim in Lake Michigan at Chicago beaches?

Yes, it is possible to swim in Lake Michigan at Chicago beaches. However, water temperature may vary depending on the season and some beaches may have strong currents, so it’s important to check conditions before entering the water.

What are the most family-friendly beaches in Chicago?

Some of the most family-friendly beaches in Chicago include North Avenue Beach, Montrose Beach, and 57th Street Beach. These beaches offer amenities such as playgrounds, concessions, and calm water for swimming.

Are there any beaches in Chicago that allow dogs?

Yes, there are some beaches in Chicago that allow dogs. Montrose Beach has a designated dog beach area, while Foster Beach and Belmont Harbor Beach have designated dog-friendly hours. It’s important to check with each beach for specific rules and regulations regarding dogs.

What activities are available at Chicago beaches?

Chicago beaches offer a variety of activities including swimming, sunbathing, kayaking, paddleboarding, volleyball, and yoga classes. Some beaches also have playgrounds, bike trails, and picnic areas for families and groups.

Which Chicago beach is best for watching the sunset?

North Avenue Beach is often considered the best place to watch the sunset in Chicago. With a panoramic view of the city’s skyline and Lake Michigan, it offers a beautiful and picturesque setting for an evening stroll or romantic moment.


Adam Smith

This article really opened my eyes to the beach scene in Chicago. As someone who loves to travel and explore, I’m ashamed to say I’ve never considered checking out Chicago’s beaches. After reading this, I can’t wait to visit North Avenue Beach and Oak Street Beach. Thanks for the informative article!

David Johnson

Great article! I didn’t realize Chicago had such beautiful beaches. I’ll definitely have to check them out.

Michael Brown

As a Chicago resident for over a decade, I have to say this article perfectly captures the beauty and charm of the city’s beaches. From the bustling crowds at North Avenue Beach to the serene atmosphere at Loyola Beach, there’s something for everyone. I appreciate the inclusion of tips for each beach, such as where to find parking and the best times to visit. My personal favorite is Montrose Beach, which offers stunning views of the city skyline and a dog-friendly area for my furry friend. Overall, this article is a great resource for both locals and tourists looking to explore the best beaches in Chicago.