Best Beaches in Chicago
If you crave time with the sun, sand, and water, you don’t have to look beyond Chicago to retreat to some of the best beaches for your next getaway. Chicago’s beaches are among the city’s best attractions. Whether you head to the 12th Street Beach or the South Shore Beach, you’ll find the perfect place to catch some rays and enjoy the waters of Lake Michigan. Find out what makes the following nine beaches some of the best in Chicago.
Ohio Street Beach
Image via Unsplash by maswdl95
Offering convenient access to Chicago’s Lakefront Trail and the Navy Pier, Ohio Street Beach provides plenty of sand and incredible views of Chicago’s downtown skyline from the beach. The most unique feature of Ohio Street Beach is its contour: Swimmers can head about half a mile north to the Oak Street curve and stay only a few feet from the seawall and shallow water the whole time. You’ll find Ohio Street Beach nestled in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood adjacent to Jane Addams Memorial Park.
Beach amenities: Bike rentals, water sports rentals, concessions, lifeguard station, public restrooms
Location: 600 N. Lake Shore Drive
12th Street Beach
Dating back to the 1920s, 12th Street Beach is one of Chicago’s oldest beaches on Northerly Island. The 12th Street Beach is within a short walk or drive to Adler Planetarium on Chicago’s Museum Campus in Burnham Park. If you’re looking for a place to grab a bite to eat, the Del Campos food stand at the beach serves hot dogs and a fantastic menu of Mexican-inspired dishes.
Beach amenities: Boathouse with restrooms, nonmotorized boat launch at the beach, accessible beach walk, lifeguard station
Location: 1200 S. Linn White Drive
63rd Street Beach
Located in Jackson Park, 63rd Street Beach has been a fixture of Chicago’s South Side neighborhood for more than a century. Beachgoers won’t be disappointed by the diverse amenities offered at the beach, including Jamaican fare at Belly Up. The historic beach house contains restrooms, showers, interactive water fountains, and meeting rooms.
Beach amenities: Beach house facility rental, bike rentals, nonmotorized boat launch at the beach, accessible beach walk, lifeguard station, pay-and-display parking lot
Location: 6301 S. Lake Shore Drive
Helen Doria Beach
With its home in Rogers Park, Helen Doria Beach gives beachgoers who come to soak up the rays some spectacular views of the Chicago skyline. The beach takes its name from Helen Doria, the first executive director of Chicago’s Millennium Park and an advocate for cultural programs in the community. The surrounding Doria Beach Park totals 0.95 acres.
Beach amenities: Lifeguard station, public restrooms
Location: 1040 W. Columbia Ave.
Juneway Beach is the northernmost beach in the Chicago Park District, and it calls Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood home. Before the Chicago Park District’s acquisition of more than a dozen street-end beaches in the city in 1959, Juneway Beach may have been a private beach. Juneway Beach is a hidden gem, and it’s adjacent to Juneway Beach Park, an acre of land that offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Beach amenities: None
Location: 7751 N. Eastlake Terrace
Oakwood/41st Street Beach
Located along Chicago’s South Side, Oakwood/41st Street Beach is one of the newest additions to the pantheon of Chicago beaches. If attending an outdoor festival or concert is high on your list of summertime pleasures, check the beach’s schedule for upcoming events. As you head to the comfort station via the walkway, study the colorful mural created by artist Jeff Zimmerman.
Beach amenities: Beach house, lifeguard station, public restrooms, ADA-accessible beach walk, pay-and-display parking lot
Location: 4100 S. Lake Shore Drive
Sometimes referred to as Ardmore Beach or Hollywood Beach because of its proximity to Ardmore and Hollywood avenues, Osterman Beach is near the Edgewater neighborhood in the northernmost point of Lincoln Park. One of the most attractive features of this beach is its silver LEED-certified beach house. The architecture of this 2,750-square-foot comfort station reflects a traditional style reminiscent of turn-of-the-century buildings in the Chicago Park District. During the spring and fall, visitors can observe migratory birds in a natural wildlife area nearby.
Beach amenities: Concessions, lifeguard station, public restrooms, Wi-Fi, water sports rentals
Location: 4600 N. Lake Shore Drive
Named after the U.S. Army’s 42nd Rainbow Division, Rainbow Beach is among Chicago’s oldest beaches, dating back to the early 1900s. Today, Rainbow Beach remains a fixture of the South Chicago neighborhood and totals approximately 60.98 acres. A fitness center, gymnasium, handball courts, and one of the oldest community gardens in Chicago are all within an easy walk from the beach.
Beach amenities: Lifeguard station, playground, public restrooms, Wi-Fi
Location: 2873 E. 75th St.
South Shore Beach
Part of Chicago’s South Shore Cultural Center, South Shore Beach occupies a portion of the green space at the heart of the South Shore neighborhood. While the beach itself is a point of interest, the area surrounding the beach is home to a 65-acre park with a nine-hole golf course. The South Shore Cultural Center features a formal dining hall, solarium, the Parrot Cage Restaurant, the Paul Robeson Theater, and the Dr. Margaret Burroughs gallery.
Don’t forget to explore the adjacent nature sanctuary. As you walk along the boardwalk near the beach, you’ll discover sand dunes, a small wetland, a prairie landscape, a woodland, and native wildlife.
Beach amenities: Beach house, lifeguard station, pay-and-display parking lot, public restrooms
Location: 7059 S. Shore Drive
Now that we’ve introduced you to the best beaches in Chicago, check them out for yourself so that you can experience the feeling of being by the sea without leaving the city. At the end of your day at the beach, wouldn’t you want to come home and enjoy a relaxing shower or bath in a new bathtub or shower? Visit the Allied Plumbing & Heating Supply Co. showroom to see what’s available. Give us a call today to learn more and to tell us about your favorite beach in Chicago!
Note: Due to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the United States, please verify the current state of operation for the beaches described above before you make plans to visit. To learn more, go to the Chicago Park District’s website.