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
4.0

scorecard

  • 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

Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain1 of 20
Millennium Park2 of 20
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain

Often referred to as "Chicago's front yard," Grant Park is a 319-acre swath of green space that starts at the eastern edge of the Loop and stretches down to the northern fringes of the Near South Side. First-time visitors should plan on spending a fair amount of time in Grant Park: This is where you'll find several of Chicago's most popular things to do, including The Field Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and Shedd Aquarium. (Millennium Park also rubs elbows with the northwest corner of Grant Park.) Baseball diamonds, flower gardens, walking paths and wide-open grassy terrain are available as well.

At the heart of Grant Park is Buckingham Fountain. One of the largest fountains in the world, this tiered water feature boasts 133 jets that shoot water as high as 150 feet into the air during 20-minute choreographed displays (which take place every hour on the hour between 9 a.m. and 10:35 p.m. from April to October). At night, the fountain's performance is accompanied by lights and music.

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