Time: 2 to 3 hours
Cost: Just parking-$19 for three-four hours
Parking at the southernmost tip of the Lincoln Park Zoo lot puts you within easy-stroller accessibility of the North Avenue Beach. Really! And, as it is one of the few Chicago beaches manned with lifeguards early in the day (9:30 a.m.), you can get to the beach for some water play before intense heat kicks in. Bring two coolers in the car: a small one with drinks and a larger one with a picnic lunch.
- Park at the southernmost tip of the Lincoln Park Zoo lot. Leave your picnic in the car for later-just bring drinks with you now. It's 300 steps from your car, up the stroller ramp and over the North Avenue Bridge crossing Lake Shore Drive.
- At the bottom of the ramp, proceed south along the paved walking/running/bike path about 1½ blocks to the North Avenue Beach house for bathrooms, water and food service. Use caution: Bikers and runners can move very fast! Stroller-accessible beach-mats stretched out in a pathway across the sand to the water's edge will allow you to push your stroller to the water without getting mired in the sand.
- Optional add-on: After you are sun-and-sanded out, walk back to the south end of the Lincoln Park Zoo parking lot. Between your car and the lake run a series of rowing lagoons with grassy, tree-lined parkways. Get out your lunch cooler and spread a blanket on the grass for a shady, sand-free picnic before you drive home.