North Avenue Beach





Celebrated City Beach

There probably isn’t a more popular and celebrated beach in Chicago than North Avenue Beach, which spans the lakefront parallel to scenic Lake Shore Drive. In the summertime, this is the place to see and be seen and to soak up some much-needed sun. Though only about a mile long, North Avenue Beach packs a punch and offers awesome beach experiences seemingly out of proportion with its small space. But this is an urban beach, after all, and it makes excellent use of the real estate.

Less is More

Unlike some of the more tranquil beach escapes scattered throughout the Caribbean, this Chicago beach is where people come to get a good workout, make new friends and take advantage of the fleeting summer sun. The opportunities for water sports activities, beachfront sports and games and lakefront recreation are seemingly endless. Rent kayaks or canoes and see the shore anew, or take a bike ride up and down the miles-long public lakefront trail. Get there early in the morning and try some outdoor yoga, or beat the crowds to the waves and try some wakeboarding or paddle-boarding.

North Avenue Beach’s “hot summer in the city” ambiance is helped along by the action at Castaways Bar and Grill, a blue-and-white, ocean-liner-style restaurant whose rooftop cafe offers beachgoers casual fare like sandwiches and salads. In a hurry? Just grab a burger or an ice cream from the first-level cafe, where dozens of tipsy beachgoers congregate and mingle.

Getting Here

A word to the wise: Though there is paid parking available at North Avenue Beach, the chances of actually snagging a space are slim. Try public transit instead, as many bus lines service this area, and the El will get you fairly close as well. From here, you’re within walking distance (or a short cab ride) to some of the best attractions, dining and shopping in the Windy City. Take a break from the sand and explore.

North Avenue Beach at a Glance


Country or State:Illinois

Length of Beach:1 mile

Access:By car, taxi or public transit

Best time to visit:Summer - best weather

High Season:June to August

Low Season:September to May

Beach Hours:11 a.m. - 7 p.m.


  • Castaways restaurant on beachfront - many more options in downtown Chicago
  • Lockers, free wifi, water sports equipment, lounge chairs and umbrellas, volleyball equipment
  • Lifeguards on duty in summer
  • Public restrooms

Beach Type:

  • Brown sand
  • Freshwater
  • Popular

Special Events:

  • Air and Water Show

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