10 Best Beaches In Chicago

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Chicago is a city known for its food, particularly for hot dogs, deep-dish pizza and jazz music.

There’s also gangster legend Al Capone, but did you know that Chicago has some beautiful beaches?

As many know, Chicago gets cold and snowy in winter, but during the warmer months, the shorelines are a popular place to spend the weekends.

These spots have enough space for everyone to hang out and relax.

Chicago is known for having a wide variety of neighborhoods; but no matter which area you choose to stay in, there will always be a stunning beach nearby.

Let’s take a look at the 10 best beaches in Chicago.

1. North Avenue Beach

North Avenue BeachSource: f11photo / shutterstock
North Avenue Beach

North Avenue Beach is situated in Lincoln Park and is one of the most popular beach destinations in Chicago.

The beach features a unique beach house with over 22,000- square feet, which offers activities for all ages and some of the best views in Chicago.

If you want to enjoy lunch on North Avenue Beach, head over to Castaways Bar and Grill for some seaside burgers, ice-cream and tasty beverages on their rooftop.

You can rent bikes on the beach or step it up a notch and rent a wakeboard or paddleboard.

Take a stroll among the different vendors selling clothes, sandals and other unique souvenirs.

2. Leone Beach Park

Leone Beach ParkSource: MarinaP13 / shutterstock
Leone Beach Park

Leone Beach Park is open every day from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm.

This area is located in the Rogers Park Community and is Chicago’s largest beach.

Leone Beach Park is great for lounging around and soaking up the rays.

There are two different parking lots with metered parking.

Leone Beach Park was named after a park employee in 1966, who goes by the name of Sam Leone.

Situate yourself in the middle of Chicago and take in the panoramic views.

The green, grassy area here is great for picnics, yoga, and meditation or perfect for an afternoon nap.

3. Foster Beach

Foster BeachSource: James Andrews1 / shutterstock
Foster Beach

Foster Beach is not the overcrowded Chicago beach you might picture; however, it does attract a wide array of people because of its fantastic location.

Many visitors gather in the park for picnics, family reunions, birthdays and other celebrations.

One unique event that takes place on Foster Beach is the Chicago Full Moon Jam.

The jam brings flame dancers, bands, and other exciting activities.

If you follow the trail and head towards the hill, you will find a nice spot to relax in solitude with great views of Chicago.

4. Belmont Harbor Dog Beach

Belmont Harbor Dog BeachSource: Deanna Oliva Kelly / shutterstock
Belmont Harbor Dog Beach

Dogs love hanging out at the beach, and what dog parent doesn’t want to spend time with their pup playing in the waves? Belmont Harbor Dog Beach is the perfect spot for you and your dog.

It’s great because it is not as busy as other dog beaches/parks in Chicago.

If you want to test the waters, this would be a great beach to start.

Belmont Harbor Dog Beach is walking distance from Wrigley.

If your pup is not used to being around other dogs, we recommend bringing them here before hitting a bigger beach like Montrose.

5. Oak Street Beach

Oak Street Beach, ChicagoSource: Thomas Barrat / shutterstock
Oak Street Beach

Spend some time at Oak Street Beach and it’s easy to imagine you are actually in the Caribbean.

The white sand beach and crystal clear waters make this the perfect place to swim, rent chairs or bikes, play volleyball and take in the magnificent views across the horizon.

You can access the beach from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm – this is a great place to enjoy the sunset.

You are only permitted to swim when the lifeguard is present between 11:00 am and 7:00 pm daily.

If you are taking the train, get off at Clark/Division – buses are available too.

Since this beach is close to the action in town, there are many cafes, bars, restaurants and accommodations within walking distance.

Take a break and spend a few days enjoying Oak Street Beach.

6. Ohio Street Beach

Ohio Street Beach, ChicagoSource: Sorbis / shutterstock
Ohio Street Beach

Ohio Street Beach is an outstanding beach for all ages.

Located in front of skyscrapers, the contrast between the natural beauty and manmade features makes for quite a stunning landscape.

This beach is a 10-minute walk from the Magnificent Mile.

The sea here is great for swimming, kayaking or canoeing.

It gets busy on weekends during the summer, but the beach is wide and long enough to accommodate everyone.

There are restrooms, restaurants and other facilities close by.

If you want to dip your toes in Lake Michigan, this is a great place to do so.

7. 12th Street Beach

12th Street BeachSource: Rajesh Vijayakumar / shutterstock
12th Street Beach

Want a nice beach to stroll along? 12th Street Beach is a great place to enjoy a leisurely walk.

The beach is located in Burnham Park on Chicago’s Museum Campus.

It’s open from May 25th to September 3rd and is a great place to swim.

There is paid parking available and a delicious Mexican restaurant called Del Campos offering Mexican food and hot dogs to boot.

There are restrooms on site.

This beach is picturesque, with the museum in the background.

The water is always calm, so if you have a paddle board, this would be the place to bring it.

8. Rainbow Beach Park

Rainbow Beach ParkSource: trishoshea1 / Flickr | CC BY
Rainbow Beach Park

Rainbow Beach Park boasts beautiful views of the Chicago skyline in the distance and is located in the southern part of Chicago.

This park is one of the few that offers visitors free WiFi.

Whether you want to work on the beach or simply relax, you’ll be connected.

Rainbow Beach Park is great for swimming and has lifeguards on duty during the summer months.

This beach is not pet-friendly but kids will enjoy the abundance of wildlife that surrounds the beach park.

There is a grill available to use for people who enjoy picnics.

There is also a gymnasium, handball court, and fitness center.

9. Kathy Osterman Beach

Kathy Osterman BeachSource: Big Joe / shutterstock
Kathy Osterman Beach

Located in northern Chicago, Kathy Osterman Beach – formerly known as Hollywood Beach – is not the biggest beach in Chicago, but a nice one at which to relax and enjoy the afternoon.

This beach mainly attracts local residents.

If you enjoy cycling, this beach offers bicycle parking for your convenience.

There are bathrooms on site as well as a fishing pier, volleyball court, benches, and shallow water that is great for swimming.

During the summer months, there are different attractions that take place at Kathy Osterman Beach, since it is close to Lincoln Park.

There are lifeguards on duty between 11: 00 am and 7: 00 pm; however, the beach is accessible from 6: 00 am to 11: 00 pm.

10. Montrose Beach

Montrose BeachSource: James Andrews1 / shutterstock
Montrose Beach

A beach with free WiFi – some may think this is the best thing in the world, others go to the best to escape online life.

Either way, it’s a nice option to have.

Now you can do your work on the beach if need be.

For others, you can rent kayaks or jet skis for an adventurous time at the beach.

Check out ‘The Dock’ and enjoy some delicious cocktails, fresh fish and other exclusive dishes, plus live music too.

If you have a pup and you want to bring it to the beach, take advantage of the north end where dogs are allowed.

The south side is a great place to bird watch as there is an ecosystem of migrating birds.

Many visitors swear that Montrose Beach is the best beach in Chicago.

10 Best Beaches In Chicago:

  • North Avenue Beach
  • Leone Beach Park
  • Foster Beach
  • Belmont Harbor Dog Beach
  • Oak Street Beach
  • Ohio Street Beach
  • 12th Street Beach
  • Rainbow Beach Park
  • Kathy Osterman Beach
  • Montrose Beach