Best Beaches in Illinois

The majority of beaches in Illinois are located in or around the city of Chicago. With Chicago’s excellent public transportation system, it’s easy to travel to and from most of Illinois’ large public beaches in a single day.

The following are beaches that can be found in other cities across the state of Illinois:

In or near Chicago

There are dozens of excellent beaches that makeup Chicago’s shoreline. Here are some of the top rated beaches located across the Chicago area that are open to the public.

North Avenue Beach

North Avenue Beach is one of the most popular spots for swimming in Chicago. The sandy beach has plenty to offer, with volleyball courts and an expansive view overlooking Lake Michigan from its perch on Lincoln Park’s north side. Visitors also have access to various restaurants within walking distance as well as rental options for playing volleyball and doing other beach activities. There’s always a lot going on at North Avenue Beach, but because it is the largest beach in all of Chicago, it isn’t difficult to find your own space without feeling too cramped.

Montrose Beach

Montrose Beach is a popular Chicago beach that offers amenities such as food concessions, kayak and volleyball rentals. It also has showers for you to use after your day at the lake! There’s an ADA accessible walkway so everyone can enjoy this gorgeous spot in Uptown style. Dogs are not allowed on Montrose beach, but you can find a dog friendly beach on the north end of the beach.

Foster Ave Beach

Foster Beach is an enormous beach located at the south end of Chicago along Lake Michigan with plenty of space to set up blankets and chairs. It has a long pier for beach-goers as well as other activities, including volleyball courts and kayak rentals. The beach itself is not being serviced currently.

12th Street Beach

If you’re looking for the perfect picnic spot in Chicago with the family, this is it. Located on Burnham Park, it is within walking distance of three of Chicago’s most popular museums – The Adler Planetarium, The Field Museum, and the Shedd Aquarium. Bathrooms are readily available, it’s easy to find plenty of food options at concession stands, and the beach is usually not very crowded.

South Shore Beach

South Shore Beach is one of 27 beaches that make up the Chicago Park District. The beach is located along the shoreline of Lake Michigan in the South Chicago neighborhood. Parking can be found in the neighborhood but you will need a permit to park along the majority of the neighborhood streets.

North Shore Beach

North Shore Beach is a recreational beach located in Chicago, Illinois and owned by the State of Illinois and managed by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The beach is right off the campus of Loyola University and boasts a skyline view of downtown Chicago to the South. There’s an adjacent marina and lighthouse that is a perfect photo opportunity.

Waukegan River Beach

Waukegan River Beach in Chicago, Ill., is a public beach that offers Chicagoans and visitors plenty of opportunity for recreation and relaxation. The beach is part of the expansive Waukegan Park District. Anyone who visits this beach will be able to enjoy such amenities as volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, and baseball fields. The beach also provides easy access to playground equipment so children can have a good time without their parents having to worry about them getting lost in the crowd. Visitors who want a more private location can go further down the shoreline where they will find picnic tables and grills. The Waukegan River Beach operates daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the summer months and on weekends only from Labor Day through Memorial Day.

Greenwood Street Beach

Greenwood Street Beach in Chicago is a great place for families with kids to spend the day. It’s in West Rogers Park, not too far from the beach. There are lots of also smaller activities for kids including large sandboxes with public sand toys. This park offers plenty of fun for the kids playing on the play equipment and running around. Greenwood has more seating than some other Chicago parks like Northside or Horner. This makes it easier to relax while your kids are busy at play.

Beyond Chicago

The following are some of the best public beaches to check out in Illinois that are outside of Chicagoland or are somewhat far from the city of Chicago.

  • Centennial Beach – Naperville, IL
  • Clinton Lake State Recreation Area – DeWitt, IL
  • Windemere Beach – Dahinda, IL
  • South Wilmington Firemen Beach – South Wilmington, IL
  • Dam West Beach – Shattuc, IL
  • Sullivan Beach – Sullivan, IL
  • Horseshoe Lake Beach – Granite City, IL