Headed to a Chicago beach this summer? All 28 miles of Chicago lakefront are free and open to the public. From the north to the south side, our beaches promise wide stretches of sand, cool, refreshing water and the occasional wave. Follow these tips to guarantee an excellent, lazy day at the lake.

Know the Scene

North Avenue Beach

Before you hit the beach, check out the Chicago Park District's new Beaches webpage, which lists important beach info, including swim status, water quality, weather data, location information, amenities, directions and historical details about each of the 24 beach locations. You can also text to easily find out the swim status of a beach: simply text the name of your beach to (312) 715-SWIM.

If You Have Kids, Choose the Right Beach for Them

Here are my picks for the Kid-friendliest beaches. Though I love the views from Oak Street Beach, our family finds Foster Avenue Beach the kid-friendliest.

Take a Trip to the South Side

12th Street Beach

Top off a busy day of learning at the Museum Campus with a dip in Lake Michigan! 12th Street Beach, located just south of the Adler Planetarium, is the perfect spot for an afternoon swim! Or grab a taco, torta or elote to go at Del Campo Tacos, in the concession area of the beach house.

Don't Forget to Eat

For an elegant, beachside lunch or dinner, check out Oak Street Beach Food + Drink. Just steps from from the water's edge, this summery bistro features a beach-friendly menu and fab cocktails.

Remember to Stay Hydrated


For snacks and drinks, climb aboard Castaways on North Avenue Beach. The first level features an ice cream café and beachside burgers. The rooftop features appetizers, sandwiches, salads and desserts. Check out the Castaway's events page for drink specials and live entertainment featured throughout the summer.

Visit a Historic Site

The Parrot Cage, an elegant restaurant overlooking the South Shore Cultural Center's beach, offers a scenic dining experience in a beautiful, historic setting. Your elegant meal featuring modern American cuisine will be prepared by students from the Washburne Culinary Institute. Bring your swimsuit - the beach is rarely crowded and be sure to explore the cultural center - a landmark in Chicago and the site of many a Chicago wedding.

Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Sports abound on Chicago's beaches: Join a summer volleyball league, compete in a floor hockey tournament on wheels, or hop atop a paddleboard and surf the waves - there's a beach sport for everyone!

Get a Workout

Beach Run

Looking to stretch your tired muscles from all those beach based sports? Welcome the sunrise with beach yoga: Sun and Moon Yoga offers Vinyasa Flow classes on North Avenue Beach during the summer months.

Grab a Seat for the Air & Water Show

The 2013  Air & Water Show will be held on August 17-18. You might want to start saving your spot on North Avenue Beach today. Check out Choose Chicago's guide to the Air and Water Show

Bring Cash

Don't Forget to bring some dollar bills for cotton candy and paletas (Mexican-style fruity ice popsicles)! 

For more information about Chicago's beaches, click here.

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