Best Beaches in Chicago for Families

Beach day, anyone? Here are some great options to enjoy a hot summer day.

When the dog days of summer hit Chicago, the best way to beat the heat is with non-stop water fun. Of course, there are splash pads and water parks to keep the kids entertained, but sometimes a beach day is all you need! Here are our favorite family-friendly beaches scattered 26 miles along our beautiful Chicago lakefront.

Margaret T. Burroughs Beach

More commonly referred to as 31st Street Beach, enjoy a South Side beach with many options for families. You have an ADA-accessible playground, a splash pad and a “green roof” picnic area above an indoor parking garage. Need a lunch break? Head to Pier 31 Restaurant to eat some burgers and enjoy live music.

Montrose Beach

Montrose Beach offers plenty of space to make the most of your next family beach day. There are accessible parking, bathrooms and beach walk (great for strollers and wheelchairs). For fun with animals, see some furry friends at Montrose Dog Beach and spot birds at Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary. For food options, try out The Dock, which includes kid-friendly options like hot dogs, tenders and quesadillas.

12th Street Beach

12th Street Beach is on the Museum Campus and right next door to Northerly Island, so you can visit a museum, swim in the lake and ride your bike in the park all in one day. There’s a parking lot next to the beach or park in the Adler Planetarium lot (you have to pay to park in either lot).

63rd Street Beach

63rd Street Beach has a historic beach house kids can play in, plus a great fountain to splash around if they don’t want them to swim in the lake. You might be lucky enough to listen to some bongos playing nearby. Since you’re in the area, explore nearby Jackson Park and the Hyde Park neighborhood.

Ohio Street Beach

Even if this beach is right next to tourist stop Navy Pier, Ohio Street Beach is still a hidden gem for Chicago families. The beach has very shallow water so your kids can play all day long and if you’re looking for a bite to eat, Caffe Oliva is your place to go. To catch some gorgeous views of the city, take a short walk down Milton Lee Olive Park adjacent to the beach.

South Shore Beach

South Shore Beach used to be a private beach for the former South Shore Country Club (now the South Shore Cultural Center). What’s nice about this beach is that it’s small and quiet for kids to run around. After spending time there, take a nature walk around the South Shore Nature Sanctuary to see dunes, wetlands and prairies.

North Avenue Beach

If you can navigate your way across the busiest stretch of the lake path, North Avenue is the best the North Side has to offer. Yes, it’s busy, but it’s busy for a reason. It’s walkable from Lincoln Park and the zoo, there’s the cute little footbridge over Lake Shore Drive and you can dine at Castaways, the bar and grill with plenty of kid-friendly options.

Rainbow Beach

Rainbow Beach promises a nice and relaxing time by the lakefront. If your family wants more, you won’t get bored at the nearby park packed with sports fields, a playground, tennis and volleyball courts. Who needs to fit in time to swim anyway?

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