So, you’re visiting Chicago with the family, and looking to spend a day at the beach. Chicago boasts 28 miles of shoreline along beautiful Lake Michigan. Operated by the Chicago Park District, they offer many choices for family fun. From walking and biking trails, playgrounds, picnicking, watersports, and more. There are serene parks and picnic areas. Many of the beaches feature spectacular scenic views of the Chicago skyline.
If you’re planning a visit to the windy city, spending some time soaking up the rays along the coast is a must. But with twenty-four beaches on the list, it can be hard to know which ones to visit first. Here is a list of the ten best beaches in Chicago for families. Now you can spend less time planning, and more time with your toes in the sand!
1. Montrose Beach
One of the most popular lakeside destinations in Chicago, Montrose Beach has a lot to offer. It’s one of the largest beaches in the area and boasts a beautiful view of the Chicago skyline from across Lake Michigan. The nearby harbor allows opportunities for boat watching.
Head north to enjoy the fenced-in dog beach, so you can spend a day frolicking in the waves with your four-legged friend. Toward the south end is the Montrose Point Bird and Butterfly Sanctuary.
This beach is one of few that allows kiteboarding. There are also jet-ski and paddleboard rentals available. When you’re ready to relax, head to the Dock at Montrose Beach for a bite to eat and some live tunes. You can even bring your dog to relax after a long day of catching frisbees.
2. Loyola Beach
This destination is a favorite for families and perfect for little ones to spend the day splashing in the shallow waters. Loyola Beach shares a space with the 40-acre Loyola Park, making it perfect for an all-day family adventure. There’s a playground, basketball, and tennis courts for some dry fun. Stroll down the 2/3-mile-long walking trail along beautiful Lake Michigan.
The park holds many events every year, and the beach is famous for its volleyball tournaments. Venture into the Glenwood Avenue Arts District nearby to soak up some authentic Chicago culture while you’re there.
3. 31st Street Beach (also called Margaret T. Burroughs Beach)
This beach is located within Burnham Park and offers an ADA-accessible playground, complete with a splash pad and climbing features. There is a unique “green roof” picnic area perfect for relaxing between dips in the lake. Next door is the brand new 31st Street Harbor, with beautiful views and space for over 1,000 boats.
Stop by Chicago Water Sports Rentals to rent jet skis, kayaks, paddleboards, and even pontoon boats, so you can spend the day cruising the waves in style.
4. 12th Street Beach
Located on the edge of Northerly Island, this beach offers breathtaking views of Lake Michigan. There is a 30-acre prairie reserve for a relaxing trek through nature. There is also easy access to the Lakefront Trail for biking and rollerblading. The Huntington Bank Pavilion offers outdoor concert experiences.
If you need a break from the beach, take an educational outing to the Adler Planetarium. Or explore the Field Museum and the amazing Shedd Aquarium.
5. South Shore Beach
South Shore Beach is a popular tourist spot, offering plenty of sand and fun in the sun. Nearby is the South Shore Cultural Center. This historic building is a must-visit for history buffs and the perfect spot for a family outing. There’s also a 65-acre park with a 9-hole golf course. Or take a walk through the nature sanctuary, complete with sand dunes, wetlands, and prairie lands.
6. North Avenue Beach
Stop by North Avenue Beach to experience the unique ocean-liner-shaped beach house. NAB Sports offers an open-air sports facility where you can catch a dodgeball tournament or watch some roller hockey. This beach is a quick walk away from the Lincoln Park Zoo.
This is one of the most popular tourist spots in Chicago, and it has a lot to do with location. Old Town is nearby, offering the opportunity for shopping and sightseeing. Don’t miss Castaways for a bite to eat.
7. 63rd Street Beach
Located near the Hyde Park neighborhood and Jackson Park, this gorgeous beach offers some fantastic cultural experiences. The beach itself offers plenty of fun for the little ones, including a splash fountain and a beach house that doubles as a playhouse. Don’t miss Belly-Up for some authentic Jamaican cuisine to perfectly compliment your beach day.
8. Foster Avenue Beach
Foster Avenue Beach is a great destination to enjoy the true relaxation that a day at the beach can offer. It’s not as crowded as some of the other spots on this list, allowing plenty of room for lounging in the sand. Green spaces nearby allow for picnicking. There’s a playground for the little ones, and Foster Beach offers a designated area for dogs.
9. Ohio Street Beach
This gem is located in the heart of it all and is a popular spot for the locals. It offers everything you could want from a beach, with the bonus of being close to downtown Chicago and the Magnificent Mile. Ohio Street Beach is adjacent to the Navy Pier, a hot spot for culture and dining. The Navy Pier offers fun activities for folks of all ages.
10. Kathy Osterman Beach (formerly Hollywood Beach)
This picturesque beach offers a chance to check out the new ultramodern LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) beach house and comfort station, which was inspired by the architecture of Chicago. You can rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard from the Chicago Paddle Project. A boardwalk allows easy access to the waterfront.
The northern end has shallower water, making it perfect for kids to splash around. The southern half of the beach is known for being very LGBTQ friendly. This beach offers the best of both worlds, and is suited for families of all kinds!