North Avenue Beach

#18 in Best Things To Do in Chicago
North Avenue Beach picture
Getty Images/Bruce Leighty

Key Info

1600 N. Lake Shore Drive

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Beaches, Free Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.0scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Located in Lincoln Park directly on Lake Michigan, North Avenue Beach is one of the most popular swimming spots in Chicago. The sandy beach has volleyball courts, plenty of space for visitors to stretch out and multiple things to do near nearby, plus it offers spectacular views of the city skyline. Beachgoers can also find restaurants, sports rental companies, restrooms and more inside a 22,000-square-foot beach house adjacent to the shore. Recent guests said the beach is a nice spot that is perfect for relaxing, biking and running, but they warned that it can get busy on hot days.

The beach is free to access, and lifeguards are on duty from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. A number of bus routes can take you close to the beach, and the nearest L station is Sedgwick (brown and purple lines). Keep in mind that parking is expensive in this part of this city, and that the beach and water can get very cold during the winter.

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More Best Things To Do in Chicago

Millennium Park1 of 20
Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain2 of 20
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Millennium Park

A first-time visit to Chicago isn't complete without a stop at Millennium Park. Situated in the Loop just north of the Art Institute of Chicago, this 24.5-acre space is used to showcase cutting-edge art, architecture and landscaping; it also acts as a backdrop for concerts and festivals. Most visitors come to Millennium Park to see the Crown Fountain and Cloud Gate, better known as "The Bean." Designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, the Crown Fountain features two 50-foot towers that face each other at opposite ends of a shallow reflecting pool. The towers' LED screens project the faces of 1,000 different Chicago residents, which are perfectly aligned with spouts so that it appears they are spitting water on passersby. Cloud Gate – created by British artist Anish Kapoor – is a 110-ton bean-shaped sculpture forged from stainless steel. The Bean's elliptical shape reflects the Chicago skyline.

There are plenty of other reasons to visit Millennium Park: You can see a concert at the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, stroll through the Lurie Garden or the Boeing Galleries (where contemporary sculpture is displayed outdoors), or sign up for a Segway tour at the McDonald's Cycle Center.

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