Illinois is home to some of the most beautiful beachfront areas in the Midwest, with 26 miles of public Lake Michigan beachfront offered throughout Chicago. Within the state's interior, a number of manmade reservoirs anchor state park areas, featuring ample opportunities for boating, fishing, hiking, and overnight camping.
1.57th Street Beach
57th Street Beach is one of Chicago's most popular swimming beaches, located within Jackson Park at 57th Street's terminus at the Lake Michigan shoreline. Though developed beachfront has existed at the site since the park's original landscaping by famed park designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in 1871, it was not renovated into a swimming beach until 1899, following the completion of Chicago's Drainage Canal. Today, it offers unprecedented views of the Chicago skyline for swimmers, along with a long-distance swimming area spanning between 55th Street and the beach's ADA-accessible pier. Mexican-style fare is served at the Tasty Grill, along with beach favorites such as hot dogs and sodas. Paid parking is available near the beach, with limited street parking also available to the west of Lake Shore Drive. After a swim, beachgoers can visit the Museum of Science and Industry or visit the dog-friendly Promontory Point.
5700 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60611, Phone: 312-74-BEACH
2.63rd Street Beach
63rd Street Beach is a family-friendly beach within Chicago's Jackson Park, located at the terminus of E. Hayes Drive at the Lake Michigan shoreline. The beach was originally developed as part of Olmsted and Vaux's 1888 renovations to the park and became a popular public swimming beach following the completion of the city's 1899 Drainage Canal. Its historic 1919 Classical Revival-style bath house, fully renovated in 2000, is available for use by beachgoers, boaters, and day campers, featuring prime lake view balconies, open-air galleries, and an interactive water feature. Concession areas include the Jamaican-style Belly Up or the casual snack stand Leave With A Smile, with showers and restrooms available for visitor use. Visitors can also rent bikes through Bike Chicago or use the beach's non-motorized boat launch.
6301 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60637, Phone: 312-742-PLAY
Calumet Beach is a lovely public beach within Chicago's Calumet Park, which was originally developed by the Olmsted Brothers in 1905 as an urban oasis for the city's crowded immigrant neighborhoods. The park, which was not completed until the 1930s, is named for the Norman-French term chamulet, or pipe, a reference to peace pipes traded between French traders and indigenous Great Lakes tribes. Today, its beach is open to the public daily between 6:00am and 11:00pm, with lifeguards staffed on duty during peak hours between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Distance swimming is permitted at the beach's southern end parallel to the Lake Michigan shoreline, with an ADA-accessible beach walk provided for visitors with mobility concerns. Public amenities include concession sands, restrooms, and showers.
9801 S. Avenue G, Chicago, IL 60617, Phone: 312-74-BEACH
4.Clinton Lake State Recreation Area
Clinton Lake State Recreation Area is one of Illinois' most popular state parks, spanning 9,300 acres within DeWitt County within the state's east central area. The park is anchored around the 4,900-acres Clinton Lake, which serves as the cooling body of water for Exelon Power Station, and is overseen by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Outstanding conditions for catfish, crappie, walleye, and bass fishing are offered, with boat launches available at the park's West Side and Mascoutin Access Areas and a fishing pier available at its Spillway Access Area. Sailboating, motorboating, swimming, and sunbathing are also popular during the summer months, with a 1,000-foot sand beach area available for use by visitors of all ages. Hiking trails and hunting areas are available, with more than 300 campsites offered for overnight use.
7251 Ranger Road, DeWitt, IL 61735, Phone: 217-935-8722
5.Howard Beach Park
Howard Beach Park is a 3.93-acre public park and beachfront in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood, open to the public daily between 6:00am and 11:00pm. The park was developed in the early 20th century as a response to apartment-dweller population growth in the city's Far North Side, named in honor of prominent 20th-century Chicago banker Howard Ure, a descendant of one of the city's famed early pioneer families. Since 1959, the park has been overseen by the Chicago Park District, though the beach has been operated as a municipal beach since at least 1921. Today, visitors can swim at the beach when lifeguards are on duty between Memorial Day and Labor Day or relax within the park's green spaces, which are home to a children's playground and ample public seating. Limited street parking is available nearby, with public access provided via the city's CTA buses and Red Line rapid transit system. Next read: Romantic Weekend Getaways in Illinois
7519 N Eastlake Terrace, Chicago, IL 60626, Phone: 312-74-BEACH
6.Illinois Beach State Park Resort
Illinois Beach State Park Resort preserves the beautiful Lake Michigan dunes region, which has long been recognized as one of Illinois' most unique geological features. Though preservation efforts in the area date back to the 1880s, the first parcels of land were acquired for the state park in 1948, with additional sections added through the early 1980s. Today, the park is a haven for hikers and bikers, with more than seven miles of trails offered throughout the park, including trails available for use by cross-country skiers. During the summer months, the park's sandy shores serve as a popular swimming beach area, with fishing permitted at areas within the park's north and south units, including an ADA-accessible pier offered at Sand Pond. Other amenities include a full-service marina, 241 overnight campsites, and the Illinois Beach Resort and Conference Center, which is home to 96 rooms and suites, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and a restaurant and cocktail lounge.
1 Lake Front Dr, Zion, IL 60099, Phone: 847-625-7300
7.Lake Bluff Sunrise Beach
Lake Bluff Sunrise Beach is a charming public beach and park in Lake Bluff, offering two swimming beaches open to the public during the summer months, with lifeguards staffed on duty during peak times. The park's northernmost beach also offers opportunities for visitors to swim with their dogs, with dog swimming tags available at the city's nearby recreation center, while a boating beach offers kayak and paddleboard rentals, storage areas for watercraft, and sailing lessons offered by the Lake Bluff Yacht Club for visitors ages 18 and older. Complimentary beach chairs and beach games are available for visitor use, along with day-use picnic shelters, a volleyball court, and a children's playground area.
455 Sunrise Dr, Lake Bluff, IL 60044, Phone: 847-283-0850
Lake Shelbyville is an 11,100-acre reservoir spanning throughout Shelby and Moultrie Counties, created from the damming of the Kaskaskia River in Shelbyville in the 1960s. The lake is overseen as a public recreational area by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, with its surrounding Shelbyville State Fish and Wildlife Area managed by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Eagle Creek and Wolf Creek State Parks border the lake, with five federal campgrounds available at Coon Creek, Forest Woods, Lithia Springs, Lone Point, and Opossum Creek. Manmade public beaches are offered at Dam West Recreation Area, Sullivan Beach, Wilborn Creek Recreation Area, and Wolf Creek State Park, with a number of coves on the lake available for use by anglers. Three full-service marinas are offered at Lithia Springs, Findlay, and Sullivan, with a number of resorts and campgrounds available throughout the area for overnight stay.
315 East Main, Shelbyville IL 62565, Phone: 217-774-2244
Lane Beach is a public beach in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood, located at the terminus of Thorndale Avenue at the Lake Michigan shoreline. The beach, which was known as Thorndale Avenue Beach and Park throughout much of the 20th century, was renamed in 1975 in honor of philanthropist and civic leader George A. Lane. Since 1959, it has been operated by the Chicago Park District as one of the city's 18 public municipal street-end beaches, offering opportunities for public swimming between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year. Lifeguards are staffed on duty between 11:00am and 7:00pm daily in season, with ADA-accessible features offered, including a soft-surface accessible children's playground. Limited street parking is available nearby, with bus and Red Line rapid transit stops located nearby.
5915 N. Sheridan Rd, Chicago, IL 60660, Phone: 312-74-BEACH
Leone Beach is one of Chicago's 18 street-end municipal beaches, located at the terminus of Touhy Avenue at the Lake Michigan shoreline within the city's Rogers Park neighborhood. The beach is located at the site of a former Rogers Park Water Company pumping station, which was acquired by the city's Bureau of Parks and Recreation in 1919 and renamed in honor of former Bureau lifeguard supervisor Sam Leone in 1966. Today, public swimming is offered at the beach between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year, with lifeguards staffed on duty between 11:00am and 7:00pm daily. Distance swimming is offered parallel to the shoreline between Lunt and Farwell Avenues, with a kayak launch available nearby for public use. On the shoreline, the beach's public park area offers an ADA-accessible children's playground, with baseball fields, tennis courts, and other athletic activities offered at its public field house.
1222 W. Touhy Ave, Chicago, IL 60626, Phone: 312-74-BEACH
11.Margaret T. Burroughs Beach
Margaret T. Burroughs Beach, also known as 31st Street Beach, is one of Chicago's 18 street-end municipal beaches, renamed in 2015 in honor of Chicago activist, historian, artist, and teacher Margaret T. Burroughs, best known as the founder of the DuSable Museum of African-American History. The 30-acre public beach and park is located within the city's Burnham Park, which is best known as the site of the city's 1933-34 World's Fair. Today, the beach offers stunning views of the Chicago skyline, with swimming permitted between Memorial Day and Labor Day from 11:00am to 7:00pm daily. A public beach house offers restrooms and concession stands, with 1,000 floating slips offered at the adjacent 31st Street Harbor facility. Other amenities include an ADA-accessible playground, a community room, a public fishing dock, and a green roof picnic area.
3100 S. Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60616, Phone: 312-74-BEACH
Montrose Beach is a popular public beach in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood, located at the terminus of Montrose Avenue along the Lake Michigan shoreline. The beach is located within the city's Lincoln Park, one of the largest and oldest urban parks in Chicago, and features public facilities developed by the Works Progress Administration as part of the New Deal in the 1930s. Public swimming is permitted between Memorial Day and Labor Day, with distance swimming areas offered parallel to the shore near Tower 4. A unique beach house is modeled to mimic a lake steamer, with open-air changing facilities added in the 1950s. Visitor amenities include a non-motorized boat launch, volleyball courts, kayak rentals, and concession stands.
4400 N. Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60613, Phone: 312-74-BEACH
13.North Avenue Beach
North Avenue Beach is one of Chicago's most popular public beaches, located within Lincoln Park at the terminus of North Avenue at the Lake Michigan shoreline. The beach was developed in the late 1930s as part of landfill extensions added to Lincoln Park, best known today for its unique and expansive North Avenue Beach House, dedicated in 2000 to replace an earlier New Deal-era structure at the site. 22,000 square feet of visitor amenities are offered at the beach house, including the casual Castaways Bar and Grill and the open-air NAB Sports facility, which hosts roller hockey, dodgeball, and fitness courses and tournaments. Outdoor beach yoga is hosted by Sun and Moon Beach Yoga, while bike and watercraft rentals are offered by Lakeshore Bike 'n Tune, Kayak Chicago, Windy City Watersports, and the Great Lakes Board Company. An ADA-accessible lakefront trail is offered, along with swimming permitted between Memorial Day and Labor Day between 11:00am and 7:00pm.
1601 N. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60611, Phone: 312-74-BEACH
14.Oak Street Beach
Oak Street Beach is a popular public swimming beach near Chicago's Gold Coast and Streeterville neighborhoods, located at the terminus of Oak Street at the Lake Michigan shoreline. The beach is located within the city's historic Lincoln Park, which spans more than 1,200 acres and encompasses a number of landfill extensions that have been developed into public beachfront areas, serving as popular swimming beaches since 1899. Today, Oak Street Beach has become one of the city's hottest summer recreation destinations, hosting amateur and professional volleyball tournaments at its beachfront sporting courts throughout the summer months. Swimming is permitted between Memorial Day and Labor Day, with bike and volleyball court rentals, concession stands, and public restrooms available for visitor day use. Distance swimming is permitted parallel to the shore between Division Street and the Chess Pavilion. Notable features include the 260-foot "You Know What You Should Do" mural, crafted in 2011 by artist Jeff Zimmermann to raise awareness for beach water quality issues.
1000 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60611, Phone: 312-74-BEACH
Oakwood Beach, also known as 41st Street Beach, is Chicago's newest public beach, developed in the late 1990s by the Chicago Park District and officially opened to the public in 2010. The beach, which is located at the terminus of 41st Street at the Lake Michigan shoreline within Chicago's Oakland neighborhood, spans 1,300 acres and is open to the public for swimming between Memorial Day and Labor Day, with lifeguards staffed on duty between 11:00am and 7:00pm. Environmentally-sustainable beach features include a bio-retention area intended to treat storm sewer runoff and a LEED-certified beach house with rainwater-harvested toilets, which received the Chicago Greenworks Award in 2010. Concession stands include the Lunch Box, which serves up Mexican-inspired snacks and summer favorites such as hot dogs and sodas. Distance swimming is permitted parallel to the shoreline, with an ADA-accessible beach walk offered for visitors with mobility concerns.
4100 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60653, Phone: 312-74-BEACH
16.Ohio Street Beach
© Thomas Barrat/stock.adobe.com
Ohio Street Beach is Chicago's best site for open-water swimming, located within the city's Streeterville neighborhood near the Jardine Water Filtration Plant and Jane Addams Memorial Park. The beach, which is located adjacent to the city's Lincoln Park, was originally developed as a temporary bathing facility in 1913 at the Lake Michigan terminus of Ohio Street and enlarged in 1965 as part of the development of the nearby 10-acre Milton Lee Olive Park. Today, visitors can swim in shallow open waters half a mile north of the Oak Street curve, with lifeguards staffed on duty at the beach between 11:00am and 7:00pm between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The beach also provides access to the city's Lakefront Trail, which stretches 18.5 miles along the Lake Michigan shoreline and is a prime route for walkers, joggers, and cyclists.
600 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60611, Phone: 312-74-BEACH
Osterman Beach, also known as Hollywood Beach and Ardmore Beach, is a popular public swimming beach within Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood, named in honor of civic servant Kathy Osterman, known for her work with Edgewater Community Council and the Mayor's Office of Special Events. The beach, which was originally developed as part of landfill extensions in 1958, is located at the northern tip of the city's Lincoln Park between Hollywood and Ardmore Avenues. Public swimming is offered between Memorial Day and Labor Day, with lifeguards staffed on duty from 11:00am to 7:00pm daily. A 2,750-square-foot LEED-certified beach house was added to the beach in 2010, constructed to mimic the turn-of-the-century architecture style of historic Chicago Park District beach houses. Distance swimming is offered parallel to the shoreline, with a natural area near the beachfront providing a safe habitat for migratory birds in the area.
4600 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60640, Phone: 312-74-BEACH
Rainbow Beach is a 61-acre public beach and park within Chicago's South Chicago neighborhood, originally developed as two separate beaches in the early 20th century before being consolidated into a single beach when the area was acquired by the Chicago Park District in 1959. The beach is named in honor of the United States Army's World War I 42nd Rainbow Division and is located at the terminus of 75th Street at the Lake Michigan shoreline, one of 18 street-end municipal beaches located throughout the city. A field house at the beach, developed in 1999, offers a fitness center, gymnasium, handball courts, and multipurpose community rooms, while a nine-acre natural area preserves significant dune habitats. Swimming is permitted between Memorial Day and Labor Day, including distance swimming available parallel to the shoreline. Other beach features include one of the city's oldest community gardens.
2873 E. 75th Street, Chicago, IL 60649, Phone: 312-74-BEACH
Rogers Beach is one of Chicago's most popular municipal beaches, named in honor of Irish immigrant Phillip Rogers, the Chicago area's first European settler in the early 19th century. The beach, which is located at the terminus of Rogers Avenue at the Lake Michigan shoreline, is one of 18 street-end municipal beaches overseen by the Chicago Park District since 1959. The 2.43-acre beach is located adjacent to a public park facility and offers public swimming between Memorial Day and Labor Day, with lifeguards staffed on duty from 11:00am to 7:00pm daily. Visitors should note that distance swimming is not offered at the beach, though nearby Leone Beach is a popular distance swimming spot. Tennis courts are offered at the nearby park, with biking and walking trails available nearby.
7705 N. Eastlake Terrace, Chicago, IL 60626, Phone: 312-74-BEACH
© Martina Simonazzi/stock.adobe.com
Rosewood Beach is one of Highland Park's four public beaches along with nearby Millard, Moraine, and Park Avenue Beaches. The beach, which is the city's only public swimming beach, was reopened to the public in 2015 following major renovations and has been the recipient of a number of national beach awards for features such as its unique Interpretive Center, which offers a wide variety of nature and ecology programming for visitors of all ages. It offers a public park facility located atop a stunning bluff overlook, with children's playgrounds and picnic areas available for visitor day use. Concession stands, boardwalk areas, volleyball courts, and kayak and paddleboard rentals are offered at the beach, along with a nature cove area and public amenities such as restrooms and showers. Visitors should note that parking areas are restricted to residents only, though alternative parking areas are offered nearby.
883 Sheridan Road, Highland Park, IL 60035, Phone: 847-579-3165
21.South Shore Beach
South Shore Beach is part of the acclaimed South Shore Cultural Center facility within Chicago's South Shore neighborhood, serving as a public recreation anchor encompassing more than 65 acres throughout the neighborhood. The facility was originally developed in 1905 as the South Shore Country Club by Chicago Athletic Club president Lawrence Heyworth, intended to be an exclusive club set on a lakefront country setting constructed by acclaimed Chicago architects Marshall and Fox. Following segregation controversies, the club closed in the early 1970s, but in 1974, the property was purchased by the Chicago Park District and rehabilitated as a public cultural center. Today, it is home to a theater, culinary institute, restaurant, and art gallery, with a nine-hole golf course and tennis courts offered on its grounds. A public swimming beach is open to the public between Memorial Day and Labor Day, with distance swimming offered parallel to the shoreline. A public boardwalk also traverses sand dune, wetland, and woodland areas, offering views of native wildlife.
7059 S. South Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60649, Phone: 312-72-BEACH
22.Waukegan Municipal Beach
Waukegan Municipal Beach is the premiere public beach facility in Waukegan, stretching one mile along the city's beautiful 400-acre lakefront region. The beach is the site of the area's only remaining natural sand dunes, offering ample opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, kiteboarding, and fishing throughout the summer months daily between 6:00am and 9:00pm. Visitors should note that no lifeguards are staffed at the beach and should exercise necessary caution when swimming. A 1,000-slip marina is available at the facility, along with areas for sand soccer and volleyball. Ice cream is served up at Dockside, with mobile food vendors parked on site during the summer months. Live music performances are offered at the Stiner Pavilion Bandshell on Tuesday evenings throughout the summer.
201 Sea Horse Drive, Waukegan, IL 60085, Phone: 847-599-2525
22 Best Beaches in Illinois
- 57th Street Beach, Photo: francim85/stock.adobe.com
- 63rd Street Beach, Photo: Ian/stock.adobe.com
- Calumet Beach, Photo: magdal3na/stock.adobe.com
- Clinton Lake State Recreation Area, Photo: Wirepec/stock.adobe.com
- Howard Beach Park, Photo: matusciac/stock.adobe.com
- Illinois Beach State Park Resort, Photo: 14ktgold/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Bluff Sunrise Beach, Photo: BradleyWarren/stock.adobe.com
- Lake Shelbyville, Photo: chas53/stock.adobe.com
- Lane Beach, Photo: Kristen/stock.adobe.com
- Leone Beach, Photo: Ian/stock.adobe.com
- Margaret T. Burroughs Beach, Photo: axle/stock.adobe.com
- Montrose Beach, Photo: Laura/stock.adobe.com
- North Avenue Beach, Photo: helgidinson/stock.adobe.com
- Oak Street Beach, Photo: mikesobers/stock.adobe.com
- Oakwood Beach, Photo: helivideo/stock.adobe.com
- Ohio Street Beach, Photo: Thomas Barrat/stock.adobe.com
- Osterman Beach, Photo: adisorn123/stock.adobe.com
- Rainbow Beach, Photo: hanohiki/stock.adobe.com
- Rogers Beach, Photo: Evdoha/stock.adobe.com
- Rosewood Beach, Photo: Martina Simonazzi/stock.adobe.com
- South Shore Beach, Photo: nito/stock.adobe.com
- Waukegan Municipal Beach, Photo: Nuli_k/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: XtravaganT/stock.adobe.com