Welcome to the Windy City, where summer is in full swing and the beach is calling your name.

With 26 miles of shoreline and 27 unique beaches, Chicago is a true haven for beachgoers of all ages. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day on the beach, in the sun, or an action-packed adventure, we’ve got you covered with our guide to the best Chicago beaches.

From volleyball, to dog beaches, to restaurants, the third coast offers a freshwater alternative to the salty coasts — with 27 beaches to choose from, you’re certain to find one that fits your fancy.

Not sure where to start? We’ll start with some of our favorite Chicago beaches, and tell you what each is known for:

  • North Avenue Beach
  • Ohio Street Beach
  • Oak Street Beach
  • Loyola Beach
  • 12th Street Beach
  • South Shore Beach
  • Rainbow Beach
  • 57th Street Beach

North Avenue Beach

Located in the heart of Lincoln Park, North Avenue Beach is a popular spot for both tourists and locals. With beach volleyball courts, bike rentals, and a beachside bar and grill, there’s plenty to do here. This being one of the city’s favorite beaches, be sure to plan ahead and get there early on the weekends to ensure you snag a prime sunbathing position. If you’re looking for wide open spaces to throw a football around, we would recommend hitting this beach up during the quieter weekdays Tuesday through Thursday.

Ohio Street Beach

Located just east of Navy Pier, Ohio Street Beach is a popular spot for water sports enthusiasts. It’s a great place to go for a swim, rent a kayak or paddleboard, or even take a lesson in windsurfing or kitesurfing. With its convenient location and lively atmosphere, Ohio Street Beach is a must-visit for anyone looking to get active on the water. This is one of the best spots in the city to go on a sunset kayak adventure. You don’t have to paddle too far offshore to get incredible views as the sun sets behind our man made mountain of skyscrapers! Just be sure to paddle back into shore before the city descends into total darkness.

Oak Street Beach

Located just steps away from the Magnificent Mile, Oak Street Beach offers stunning views of the Chicago skyline. This beach is known for its lively atmosphere, water sports rentals, and beachside dining options. With it’s easy access to the Mag Mile and all your shopping needs, this is a popular destination for Chicago visitors.

 Loyola Beach

Tucked away in the Rogers Park neighborhood, Loyola Beach is a quiet oasis on the North Side. With its soft sand and clear water, it’s the perfect spot to escape the city and unwind.

12th Street Beach

Located on the Museum Campus, 12th Street Beach offers a unique view of Lake Michigan and the city skyline. This beach is popular for its walking paths, fishing pier, and proximity to the Adler Planetarium. This spot doesn’t provide the best swimming in the city, but it does provide the best view of our world famous skyline. It is an excellent spot to picnic, take a stroll, or simply appreciate both the man made and natural beauty of Chicago.

South Shore Beach

Located in the South Shore neighborhood, this beach is a favorite among locals for its quiet atmosphere and pristine shoreline. It’s the perfect spot for a a peaceful day at the beach.

Rainbow Park Beach

Another SouthSide gem, Rainbow Beach offers a wide range of activities, including a playground, basketball courts, and a beachside cafe. It’s also a popular spot for fishing and birdwatching. For the active birder, you can catch glimpses of sparrows, shorebirds, waterfowl, thrushes, and woodpeckers.

57th Street Beach

Located in the Hyde Park neighborhood, 57th Street Beach offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s known for its soft sand and stunning views of the lake.

We also have tips on the Chicago beaches that are best for families, dog-owners, boaters, paddlers and just a relaxing beach day sunbathing and reading a good book. Check out these Chicago beaches:

  • Family-friendly Beaches
  • Dog-friendly Beaches
  • Beaches for Relaxing
  • Beaches for Water Sports and Activities
  • Beaches with Dining Options

Family-Friendly Beaches in Chicago

Families can also expect to enjoy a blazing Chicago summer day at the beach. Chicago’s beaches are perfect for families looking for a day of fun in the sun. From playgrounds and picnic areas to bike trails and volleyball courts, these beaches offer something for everyone.

Our top picks include North Avenue Beach, Ohio Street Beach, Montrose Beach, and 12th Street Beach. Bust out your bikes and ride along the lakefront trail to Ohio Street beach where you can rent a kayak, go for a swim, and when you’re done head over to Navy Pier to grab an ice cream and watch the fireworks display on Saturdays and Wednesdays.

Dog-Friendly Beaches in Chicago

The beaches on Lake Michigan are not only for people but host some incredible beaches for man’s best friend.

You can find a quaint little dog park at Belmont Harbor. It boasts a dock so your pooch can run, jump, and play in or out of lake Michigan.

Further north you’ll stumble upon Montrose Beach which hosts two separate sections: a dog beach and a human beach. The fenced-in dog beach provides Chicago dogs with a wide area to frolic in the sand and then wade into the depths of the water. Across the fence you’ll find a family friendly beach. Truly the best of both worlds.

Chicago Beaches Best for Relaxing

Hey! Life gets crazy and we understand that sometimes you just want to put your feet up, kick back and relax and even in this Midwestern Metropolitan you can find an oasis along the lakefront. Chicago has a number of beaches that are perfect for sunbathing, reading, and even practicing yoga.

If you’re looking for a peaceful getaway, head to Loyola Beach or South Shore Beach for a relaxing beach day. These relaxing and quieter beaches offer plenty of space to spread out, soak up the sun, and unwind. 

Oak Street beach is a local favorite for sunbathing thanks to a long recreational stretch of concrete. Locals will head out to enjoy the beach vibe and soak up the sun laying their towels down on the concrete rather than the sand. 

Best Beaches for Water Sports and Activities 

Chicago’s beaches aren’t just for sunbathing, although, as previously mentioned, there are some great picks if you’re working on becoming a sun berry. The real charm to lake Michigan is the ability to play around and get active in the water.

If you’re looking for a place to kayak, paddleboard, or just float around on a boat head to Oak Street Beach or Ohio Street Beach.

For windsurfing or kiteboarding, check out Montrose Beach or 57th Street Beach.

If beach volleyball is more your style then you can find courts on North Avenue Beach as well as on Oak Street Beach. 

If you’d rather watch people volley back and forth rather than participate then Oak Street Beach has your back!  It hosts a huge volleyball tournament on Labor day weekend each year, complete with food trucks, music, and general merriment.

Best Beaches for Food and Drink in Chicago

Now that you’ve worked up a sweat, got kissed by the sun, and run your dog till the cows came home, maybe you’ve also worked up an appetite. What’s a day at the beach without some tasty treats? Luckily, Chicago’s beaches have plenty of options for food and drinks. At most of our beaches during busy summer days you’ll find ice cream carts selling summer time classics.

North Avenue Beach, Ohio Street Beach, and Oak Street Beach all have beachside cafes and bars, while Montrose Beach has a variety of food trucks to choose from. North Avenues venue is infamously busy with beach goers and is a great option for a quick bite. If you’d like sit down table service then your best bet is at Ohio Street beach’s Caffe Oliva.

No matter what kind of beach day you’re looking for, Chicago’s got it all. Beaches for dogs, beaches for families, beaches for sunbathers, beaches for volleyball, beaches, beaches, and more beaches!  So pack your sunscreen, grab your beach towel, and get ready to dive into Chicago’s greatest season: summer. With our guide to Chicago’s beaches, you’re sure to find your perfect spot in the sand and adventure. 

Explore more of Lake Michigan and Chicago’s Lakefront, on bike, kayak or walking the great trail! You can rent a bike or hop on a guided tour of the Lakefront neighborhoods to see and learn more about the waterfront city.