Take a break from the hustle and bustle of urban life for a
scenic waterfront oasis. You don't need to go as far as you might
think. The lakefront is truly one of Chicago's treasures and a trip
to one of the 31 beaches is the perfect summer family outing.
Before you make an excursion to the lakefront with kids in tow,
you need to choose the right beach and bring the supplies you will
need to make your trip, well, a day at the beach. Here is what you
need to know before you go:
Not all Chicago beaches are created equal. Most Chicagoans are
familiar with the larger beaches, such as North Avenue Beach. But
if it is family-friendly fun in the sun that you are after, Tim
Burdick of the Chicago Park District says there are lots of other
options. His list of family-friendly beaches include Montrose Beach
because of ample parking and a large picnic area. The 31st Street
Beach has a playground and spacious sand area for families. 63rd
Street Beach is great for kids because of the popular splash pool.
Rainbow Beach, located about 10 miles south of the Loop, has a new
beach house facility, parking, a picnic area and a great view.
Another good spot for families is the Ohio Street Beach because it
is right next to Navy Pier.
When choosing a beach, parents should consider the availability
of parking, cleanliness, proximity of bathroom facilities and open
space for kids to play. "I like Foster Avenue Beach because the
sand area is really deep so the kids can play away from the water
if they want to and the water itself is really shallow if they want
to go in," says Chicago mother of two Melissa Capizzi. "I also love
the stroller ramp that goes all the way down to the water's edge
and the bathroom/shower area."
Once you have decided on the perfect beach destination, the next
step is loading up the beach bag with essentials (the bigger the
bag, the better). What you need to bring:
Also keep in mind that timing is everything. Consider heading
out to the beach in the early morning or late afternoon when you
can skip the mid-day heat and crowds.
Just in case you are worried, "It is absolutely safe to bring
your kids to the beach," says Ellen Sargent of the Chicago Park
District's Office of Green Initiative. "We test the water at least
five times a week and use a three-tier advisory system to keep
beach-goers informed. We clean the beaches regularly with raking
equipment and by hand. Plus, we have installed more lidded garbage
and recycling containers to keep waste off the beaches and out of
the water," says Sargent.
For more information on all of Chicago's beaches and upcoming
programs like Junior Lifeguards and Sand-tastic, visit www.chicagoparkdistrict.com.
Caitlin Murray Giles is a full-time mother of three and part-time freelance writer living in Wicker Park.
See more of Caitlin's stories here.
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