Hidden beaches in Chicago


By Bronwyn Soell

Forget fighting the crowds at North Avenue or Oak Street beaches. There are 33 beaches along the lakefront and some of the best for families are the ones you might never hear about.

Rogers Park is famous for its small neighborhood beaches at the ends of the east/west streets. We like the one at the end of Jarvis Avenue. This is the place to see local families and elderly beachgoers swimming in their rubber bathing caps. These beaches are less manicured than some of the larger ones, but make up in privacy what they lack in glamour.

A little farther south, Hollywood Beach is a beautiful, sheltered cove of sand. Families will find it best to congregate on the north end of the beach, where the water is shallow and more family friendly. A boardwalk ramp runs down to the water, making this beach one of the most stroller and wheelchair friendly in the city.

Our new favorite beach is known as the 12th or 14th Street Beach at Northerly Island, just south of Adler Planetarium. This beach has the most expensive parking, but if you combine it with a morning at the Museum Campus and pack a lunch, you can walk around the breakwall to the beach and have a perfect Chicago day. The beach itself is very clean with a grassy area to play and eat, a snack stand/restroom and beautiful views of the city.

The 31st Street beach in Burnham Park has rough sand, but also a nice grassy area, and is perfect for walking or biking up the lakeshore path. One of the best things here is the huge playground.

Our family's best south Chicago beach is definitely 63rd Street beach. With a great wading fountain for little ones, a sparkling beach and the largest and oldest beach house in Chicago, this beach is a must-visit for history buffs and beachgoers alike. Free parking, lots of shells and lake glass, grills and a picnic area, and a ramp down to the water really offer something for everyone.

Each Chicago beach has its own individual attractions and character. Map out a summer plan that lets you explore them all to find your family's new favorite.


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