It's the home of jazz joints, deep-dish pizza spots and major sports rivalries. But with its miles-long lakefront, Chicago is also a bona fide beach destination, boasting tan sands and dramatic Lake Michigan vistas. Looking for the ultimate beach-and-city getaway? Check out our picks below for the best hotels in Chicago near beaches.
W Chicago — Lakeshore
Just across from Ohio Street Beach stands the stylish W Chicago — Lakeshore, one of several iconic structures lining the sprawling lakefront. Within a four-minute stroll, you can be at one of the city's best-known urban beaches, a tiny wedge of golden sand backed by the Jane Addams Memorial Park and bordered by the Milton Lee Olive Park.
Inside the luxe property, you'll find the 9,600-square-foot Bliss Spa, complete with 16 treatment rooms and a brownie buffet. Guests can't get enough of the 7th-floor Wet Deck bar and restaurant and its adjacent pool, all of which offer incredible shoreline views.
Situated in the glittering Gold Coast neighborhood, the boutique Thompson Chicago is just 10 minutes by foot from Oak Street Beach. Decked out in bold, dark colors and warm textures, the hotel evokes old Hollywood glamour, but with a decidedly modern twist.
Rooms offer sweeping city or lake views, along with 400-thread-count sheets and gourmet mini-bars. Join well-heeled travelers and head to Nico Osteria at dinner time, where Chef Bill Montagne's menu mesmerizes with authentic seafood and homemade pasta dishes.
When the urge to shop strikes, walk around the corner to Michigan Ave, home to the Magnificent Mile shopping district that spans southward for blocks.
Since 1926, the Ambassador Chicago has been the temporary abode of choice for Windy City explorers intent on being in the middle of the action. This Gold Coast dazzler boasts easy access to both Oak Street Beach and its rowdier counterpart, North Avenue Beach, straddling Lake Michigan and the ever-popular Lincoln Park Zoo.
The silk-draped Library is the best hangout you could ask for. By day, the sleek space take on the role of comfy coffee bar. By night, it morphs into a dimly lit cocktail bar, serving small plates, house concoctions and domestic and international bottled beers.
Waldorf Astoria Chicago
One look at the Waldorf Astoria's Paris-inspired interior and you'll understand why it earned the prestigious AAA 4-Diamond award. Guest rooms feature simple, elegant decor and amenities like 42-inch LCD TVs, deep soaking tubs, complimentary WiFi access and wet bars with refrigerators. Some rooms and suites also add private balconies.
For dinner, choose between Petit Margeaux and Margeau Brasserie, both serving French cuisine with locally sourced ingredients. Schedule a massage, facial or a mani/pedi at the Waldorf Astoria Spa, or have the spa come to you — many services can be performed right in your room. And the beach? It's just a little over a mile away.
The jaw-dropping views of the lakefront from your room at The Ritz-Carlton might inspire you to set off in the direction of the water — Oak Street Beach and the Lakefront Trail are just a few blocks to the north. But when you decide to cozy up for the night, you'll have all the ideal creature comforts: luxury bedding, terry robes and slippers, high-speed internet access and 24-hour in-room dining.
Waking up is a little easier with in-room Nespresso machines, and wellness classes such as yoga and pilates will have you feeling your best. The Ritz-Carlton also offers a spa and an indoor swimming pool, plus a 12th-floor Italian restaurant and a rooftop bar.
Four Seasons Hotel
Only a six-minute walk stands between you and the beachfront when you stay at the Four Seasons Hotel, a luxe high-rise property just off of Michigan Ave. Choose from lake- or city-view rooms and suites, which come with terry robes, DVD players and Malin + Goetz bath products.
Fresh, seasonal items form the core of the menu at Allium Restaurant and Bar, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus Sunday brunch. Just try to pull yourself away from the gorgeous 50-foot swimming pool at the spa and fitness center.