Top Chicago Beaches

Aerial view of Oak Street beach in Chicago.
Taken by Archie Wong/Getty Images

With beautiful blue water as far as the eye can see, you may think you've gone from Chicago to southern California. When the weather is warm, you can expect to see many Chicagoans heading for the beach to enjoy a day in the sun or sips and noshes at a popular beach bar. The Chicago beaches listed below are open for swimming from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, except where otherwise noted. ​

01 of 07

Loyola Leone Beach

People standing on the empty Loyola Leone Beach

TripSavvy / Kathleen Messmer

At eight blocks long, Loyola Leone Beach is the largest in Chicago. Kid friendly with a play lot and stroller beach mats, this beach is also great for the sports enthusiast with baseball fields, basketball courts, and a large bike rack. Hungry? Check out the excellent Heartland Concession stand.

  • Location: 7032 N. Sheridan Rd.
  • Transportation: CTA Bus #147 Outer Drive Express Northbound
02 of 07

Belmont Harbor

Belmont Harbor, a popular Chicago beach hangout, boasts a bike, walking and running path along with ample parking. Belmont Harbor is also home to Chicago's Yacht Club and the city's unofficial "dog beach," a fenced-in beach area perfect for those traveling with their canine companion (more ideas for pampering pets in Chicago). The beach is adjacent to Boystown, which is home to a large number of Chicago's gay community, and Villa Toscana Guest House, the area's most notable bed & breakfast destination.

  • Location: 3200 N. Lake Shore Dr. at Belmont
  • Transportation: CTA Bus #146/151 Northbound
03 of 07

People Watching at Oak Street Beach

Birds-Eye View of Chicago's Beaches

Whether it's rollerblading, volleyball, relaxing and soaking in some rays or wanting to check out tiny swimwear, Oak Street Beach is steps away from the Magnificent Mile and a people-watching extravaganza right in the middle of a bustling Chicago. As one of the city's most accessible beaches, it's in walking distance to the likes of Drake Hotel Chicago, Intercontinental Chicago Hotel, Park Hyatt Chicago and Ritz-Carlton Chicago.

  • Location: 1000 N. Lake Shore Dr. at Oak Street
  • Transportation: CTA Bus #151 Sheridan Northbound
04 of 07

North Avenue Beach

Chicago's answer to Venice Beach, North Avenue Beach has a mini-gym (see also our guide to top local boutique fitness studios) as well as a biking and running path. It's also a popular destination for alfresco yoga classes. North Avenue Beach plays host to professional volleyball tournaments and the Chicago Air & Water Show. The busiest beach in Chicago, public transportation is advised, as parking is limited.

  • Location: 1600 N. Lake Shore Dr. at North Avenue
  • Transportation: CTA Bus #151 Sheridan Northbound
Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07

Evanston Beaches

Directly north of Chicago, Evanston is home to five beautiful beaches that offer great southern views of the Chicago skyline. Most of these beaches enjoy shallow water along with gourmet and ice cream concessions, which make them an excellent destination for families. It's also one of the few beaches where a season token or daily pass is required for beach admission during operating hours.

  • Location: Between Campus Drive and Dempster Avenue, Evanston
  • Transportation (by car): Sheridan Drive north
06 of 07

Montrose Beach

Nighttime in Chicago

GettyImages/Philippe Renault 

Montrose Beach, near Uptown, is a lovely beach with much to offer. There's a bird and butterfly sanctuary, which attracts migratory birds just north of the beach. Food concessions are available, as well as volleyball and kayak rentals. Bring your dog to Montrose Dog Beach, it's the largest in the city. There's even a place to wash Fido afterward so he can be brought home smelling like soap instead of covered in wet sand. There's a paid parking lot or you can take public transportation.

  • Location: 4400 N. Lake Shore Dr.
  • Transportation: CTA bus routes include #78, #81, #151 and Red Line train stops at the Lawrence or Wilson stations
07 of 07

Foster Beach

An ideal destination for families and furry friends, Foster Beach is located in the Edgewater neighborhood. It's not as trendy and touristy as Oak Street Beach or North Avenue Beach, making it perfect for those looking for a quieter alternative.

  • Location: 5200 N. Lake Shore Dr.
  • Transportation: CTA bus routes include #147, #151 and Red Line train stop at the Berwyn station
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