Oak Street Beach


  •  Photo: Theresa Boehl

  •  Photo: Theresa Boehl

  •  Photo: Theresa Boehl

Chicago’s Chicest Beach

Chicago may not be the first city that comes to mind when planning a beach trip, but in the warm summer months, there’s hardly an urban beach that can compare to Oak Street Beach. With the magnificent Chicago skyline as a backdrop, this sandy gem blends relaxing lake views with the exciting pulse of one of the most dynamic cities in the United States.

Lakefront Leisure

Don’t be fooled by the beach’s location — you can partake in many of the same activities that you can at resort beaches in more tropical areas. Rent chairs and bask in the glorious summer sun, or rent equipment and join other beachgoers in a fun afternoon of water sports on Lake Michigan. Volleyball is a favorite pastime here, along with jogging or biking the lakefront trail. Check out the beach-centric mural that spans a wall along the trail, created by artist Jeff Zimmerman in 2011.

Most hungry visitors to Oak Street Beach head to the lively beachfront cafe of the same name. Here, you can chow down on tasty appetizers, tacos, salads and burgers, and wash your meal down with a frozen cocktail or a beer from the tap. The dining area is even dotted with a few imported palm trees, adding to the feeling that you’ve escaped the Midwest to somewhere exotic.

Of course, an overwhelming range of culinary options awaits you in the surrounding Gold Coast and Streeterville neighborhoods, and in downtown Chicago in general. This city has a reputation as a foodie’s paradise — don’t miss your chance to experience it.

Getting Here

As in most major cities, parking is notoriously bad in Chicago, so coming by car is not advised. Instead, take advantage of public transit to get you here — the 22 Clark bus or the CTA Red Line can do the job quickly and inexpensively. Another option is to find parking south or north of downtown, rent bikes, and pedal down the lakefront trail to Oak Street Beach. You’ll pass other popular beaches on the way, and get a postcard-perfect view of the Windy City skyline.

Oak Street Beach at a Glance


Country or State:Illinois

Length of Beach:275 yards

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:6 a.m. - 11 p.m.


  • Oak Street Beach cafe on beachfront - many more options in downtown Chicago
  • Chairs and water sports equipment for rent
  • Restrooms
  • Lifeguards on duty in summer from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Beach Type:

  • Brown sand
  • Freshwater
  • Popular

Special Events:

  • Volleyball Tournaments, Air and Water Show