You don't have to travel far from Chicago to find some of the best beaches along Lake Michigan. Glencoe Beach offers sandy shores, paddle board rentals, and a beachfront playground in Glencoe village. Illinois Beach State Park boasts nearly seven miles of shoreline, diverse ecosystems, and ample outdoor activities. Rosewood Beach in Highland Park is open all season with amenities like restrooms and rental options. Gillson Park Beach in Wilmette has a popular Dog Beach, sailboat rentals, and picnic areas. Lighthouse Beach in Evanston offers a serene escape with spots for swimming, picnicking, and ample parking. Explore these beaches for more activities and scenic beauty.

Main Points

  • Glencoe Beach offers sandy shores, watercraft rentals, and a beachfront playground.
  • Illinois Beach State Park features diverse ecosystems, hiking, camping, and nearly seven miles of Lake Michigan shoreline.
  • Rosewood Beach provides guarded swimming, scenic boardwalks, and nature programs with full amenities.
  • Gillson Park Beach includes a Dog Beach, sailboat rentals, tennis courts, and weekend swimming passes.
  • Lighthouse Beach in Evanston offers swimming, picnicking, playgrounds, and free parking for a serene escape.

Glencoe Beach

lake michigan summer spot

Located in the charming village of Glencoe, Glencoe Beach is a family hotspot that's open all summer. This beloved destination is part of the Park District of Glencoe and offers a variety of activities that cater to those seeking freedom and adventure.

When you visit, you can enjoy the beautiful sandy beach along the Lake Michigan shoreline, perfect for swimming and sunbathing.

For those who love water sports, Glencoe Beach provides paddle board, kayak, and hobie catamaran rentals. Whether you're a novice or an experienced paddler, you'll find the equipment you need to explore the crystal-clear waters.

Additionally, the beach features a designated boating beach area, making it easy for you to launch your watercraft and enjoy a day on the lake.

Families will appreciate the beachfront playground, which offers additional recreational opportunities for younger visitors. The neighborhood park atmosphere makes it a welcoming spot for gatherings and picnics.

With daily admission set at $10 for residents and $20 for non-residents, Glencoe Beach makes it easy for everyone to enjoy a day of fun and relaxation by the water.

Illinois Beach State Park

nature escape by water

Just a short drive north from Glencoe Beach, you'll find the expansive and stunning Illinois Beach State Park, offering nearly seven miles of pristine Lake Michigan shoreline. This park, located in the Chicago suburbs, is a haven for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. Here, you can immerse yourself in diverse ecosystems featuring dunes, swales, marshes, and oak trees.

At Illinois Beach State Park, you can enjoy a variety of activities. Whether you're swimming, boating, hiking, camping, or picnicking, there's something for everyone. The park is home to a rich ecosystem where you can spot diverse animals and explore aquatic plants and fish, especially around Dead River.

Activity Description Best For
Beach Relax on nearly seven miles of shoreline. Sunbathers and swimmers
Hiking Trails through dunes and oak forests. Nature enthusiasts
Camping Campsites near the lake. Outdoor adventurers
Picnicking Designated areas with tables and grills. Families and groups
Wildlife Spot diverse animals and aquatic life. Birdwatchers and wildlife lovers

Whether you seek a relaxing day by the water or an outdoor adventure, Illinois Beach State Park offers a variety of experiences, making it a must-visit destination north of Chicago.

Rosewood Beach

beautiful nature spot in illinois

Rosewood Beach in Highland Park offers an award-winning Lake Michigan shore experience, perfect for a relaxing day out. Managed by the Park District of Highland Park, this beach provides a serene setting with various amenities. You can enjoy a guarded swimming beach, ensuring safety while you take a dip in Lake Michigan's refreshing waters. The beach is open all season long, making it an ideal spot for different water activities.

To enhance your visit, Rosewood Beach features several key amenities, including restrooms, lockers, and rental options. These conveniences make it easy for you to spend the whole day enjoying the beach without any hassles. The scenic boardwalk and rock garden add to the picturesque atmosphere, offering beautiful views and a relaxing path for a leisurely stroll.

Here are a few highlights to make your visit memorable:

  1. Recreation Beach: Ideal for water activities and enjoying the sun.
  2. Guarded Swimming Beach: Safe swimming areas monitored by lifeguards.
  3. Public Nature Programs: Educational and engaging programs for all ages.

Rosewood Beach in Highland Park is a perfect escape for those seeking freedom and relaxation by the shores of Lake Michigan.

Gillson Park Beach

lake michigan beach park

After soaking in the tranquility of Rosewood Beach, head over to Gillson Park Beach in Wilmette for a more vibrant and activity-filled shoreline experience. This popular beach, located in the family-friendly suburb north of Evanston, offers a variety of amenities to keep everyone entertained.

If you're traveling with your furry friend, you'll love the dedicated Dog Beach where your pet can splash around freely. Gillson Beach is perfect for swimming, but remember, you'll need a swimming pass for weekend access. If you enjoy staying active, you'll find tennis courts available for a quick match.

Whether you're an experienced sailor or looking to try something new, sailboat rentals provide a fantastic way to explore the water. For those who prefer more relaxed activities, the beach features well-maintained picnic areas where you can enjoy a meal with friends or family.

The nearby harbor and Harbor Club add to the charm, offering additional recreational opportunities and a picturesque backdrop for your day at the beach. With its blend of activities and amenities, Gillson Park Beach in Wilmette is a favorite spot for both locals and tourists seeking a lively beach experience.

Lighthouse Beach

lighthouse on sandy shore

Lighthouse Beach in Evanston, located 12 miles north of Downtown Chicago, offers a picturesque spot for swimming and picnicking. This beach is perfect for families looking for a relaxing day by the lake, providing a serene escape from the city's hustle and bustle. The North Shore's natural beauty is on full display here, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists.

You'll find plenty to do at Lighthouse Beach. Here's what makes it special:

  1. Playground: There's a nearby playground where children can play and burn off energy, making it ideal for families.
  2. Picnic Spots: With ample picnic areas, you can easily set up a meal with a view of the lake, adding to the beach's charm.
  3. Free Parking: The convenience of free parking means you can spend more time enjoying the beach rather than worrying about your vehicle.

Lighthouse Beach is one of the five beaches in Evanston, offering a variety of options for enjoying a day by the water. Whether you're swimming, picnicking, or just soaking in the scenery, this beach provides a perfect blend of leisure and convenience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Closest Ocean Beach to Chicago?

The closest ocean beach to Chicago isn't actually an ocean beach at all. Head to Indiana Dunes National Park, just 50 miles east. You'll love the 15 miles of sandy shoreline along Lake Michigan that feels ocean-like.

What Is the Less Crowded Beach in Chicago?

You're looking for a less crowded beach in Chicago? Head to Loyola Beach in Rogers Park. It's a tranquil escape, perfect for those who crave freedom from the bustling city and want a serene, family-friendly environment.

What Beaches Can You Drive to From Chicago?

Imagine cruising like Odysseus on Lake Michigan's shores. You can drive to Illinois Beach State Park, Gillson Park, and Rosewood Beach from Chicago. Each offers a unique escape, perfect for your next adventure.

What Is the Best Beach for the Skyline in Chicago?

For the best skyline views in Chicago, you can't beat 31st Street Beach. Enjoy stunning cityscape backdrops while engaging in water sports and dining options. Capture memorable moments with Chicago's iconic skyline as your breathtaking backdrop.


You've got to check out these incredible beaches north of Chicago!

From the serene sands of Glencoe Beach to the sprawling beauty of Illinois Beach State Park, there's a coastal gem for everyone.

Rosewood Beach offers pristine waters, while Gillson Park Beach provides stunning views.

Don't miss Lighthouse Beach, where history and nature collide.

Each spot promises an unforgettable experience, perfect for escaping the city's hustle and bustle.

Dive in and discover your new favorite beach today!