North Shore Chicago’s Top, Hottest Beaches

North Shore Chicago’s Top, Hottest Beaches

Of course, there’s always the water park but if concrete’s not your thing… soak up Lake Michigan -- one of our single greatest natural assets here on the North Shore. Pack up a picnic, grab an old sheet and take it all in. Here. has put together our list of some of the best beaches around to help you take the guess work out of planning and spend more time enjoying!

1. Glencoe Beach

Hazel and Park Ave., Glencoe
Info: 847.835.1185

Beach Open: Open daily June 7 (limited weekend hours begin May 24)
Hours: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Daily Pass: Resident - $6/$4 child (1 - 17); Non-resident - $9/$7 child
Special Details: Beach carts operate 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. - 8 p.m., free parking, twilight rates, playground, concessions, sand chair and umbrella rental.

2. Forest Park Beach

East end of Deerpath on Lake Rd., Lake Forest
Info: 847.234.6702 x.8

Beach Open: Open daily June 7
Hours: Lifeguards on duty 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Daily Pass: No charge
Special Details: Concessions, playground, restrooms available.

3. Clark Street Beach

Clark St. at Sheridan Rd. (1811 Sheridan Rd), Evanston
Info: 847.492.7082 (x.7)

Parking is a hassle – you’ll need an NU sticker to use their lots during the week, or you can try to get lucky and plug a meter along Sheridan Rd. And while there are no full-service concessions, you can always hit up downtown Evanston for beach snacks before you go!

Beaches Open: June 14
June 14 - July 31: 10:30 a.m. - 8 p.m.
August 1 - September 1: 10:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Daily Pass: $7 (12 and older), $5 for kids (1 - 11)
Special Details: No smoking, free Monday admission from July 7 - Sept. 1 for residents.

Looking for other beaches in Evanston? Try these:
Dempster/Greenwood St. Beach - Greenwood St. at the lakefront (1401 Sheridan)
Lee Street Beach - Lee St. and Lake Shore Blvd. (1111 Lake Shore Blvd.)
South Boulevard Beach - South Blvd. at the lakefront (525 Sheridan Square)
Lighthouse Beach - Central St. at Sheridan Rd. (2611 Sheridan Rd.)

4. Gillson Beach:

Lake Avenue at Lake Michigan, Wilmette
Info: 847.256.0333 (General Info: 847.256.9656)

Here’s what we like:

It’s got it all. As far as amenities go, Gillson’s got ‘em all – full-service concessions and a beach house, a wide-expanse of playground for the kids, fully-groomed sand and situated directly at the end of Lake Ave., making it easy to access.

Put it this way – if you forget to pack a snack, you don’t need to head into town to hit the 7-11.

That said, you’ll need to plan ahead for parking.

Daily parking decals for Monday - Friday are available from the Parks Dept. for $7, with a limited number available on weekends for $8.

If you don’t have a decal, you can expect to get a ticket. Gillson is also fairly strict about picnic and grilling permits, but you can obtain those at the beach from the “Picnic Patrol.”

Beach Open: May 24
Hours: 9 a.m. - 8 p.m. (Concessions open at 10 a.m.)
Daily Pass: Resident - $3.75/NR - $7.50 (After 6 p.m., Resident $1.50/NR - $3)
Parking costs: The upper road located between the south park entrance and the Washington Street exit is open for parking to all automobiles—resident and non-resident. Lakefront Parking Decals, required to park in lots and closer to beach, are available at 1200 Wilmette Avenue or the Lakeview Center in Gillson Park. Season fees are $13 for residents and $90 for Non-Residents.
Special Details: Concessions, restrooms, playground, twilight rates

5. Tower Beach:

Tower and Sheridan, Winnetka
Info: 847.501.2077

Winnetka’s Tower Beach has the full complement of amenities, including restrooms, showers, foot baths, concessions, water/sand play areas and beach volleyball courts. There are two parking lots available to beach-goers.

Beaches Open: June 13
Hours: 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Daily Pass: Resident - $4/$3 child; Non-resident - $10/$8 child
Special Details: Restrooms, concessions and playground.

Other beaches in Winnetka:
Maple Street Park - Maple and Sheridan Rd. (Beach house w/restrooms, off-street parking)
Elder Lane - Elder and Sheridan Rd. (Beach house w/restrooms, off-street parking)

6. Illinois Beach:

Lakefront, Zion
Sheridan Rd. north to Wadsworth Rd.
Info: 847.662.4811

If you’re looking for a state park experience, complete with hiking trails, picnic areas and camping opportunities (extra $$$ for camping permits), Illinois Beach offers a beautiful shoreline and a great lakefront swimming locale. Keep in mind - there aren’t any lifeguards on duty, so parents need to be extra alert.

Beaches Open: Open, no lifeguards
Hours: Sunrise - 8 p.m.
Daily Pass: $1 per person
Special Details: Restrooms w/showers, concessions.

7. Waukegan Municipal Beach:

201 Seahorse Dr., Waukegan
Info: 847.336.1044

The Waukegan Municipal Beach offers a natural lakefront beach experience – there aren’t any concession stands and fancy play equipment, but picnicking is allowed, there are beautiful natural dunes and a mile of groomed sand. Lifeguards are on duty, and it’s free admission!

Beaches Open: Memorial Day weekend
Hours: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Daily Pass: Free entry!
Special Details: Sand volleyball, picnicking