11 Best Beaches in Illinois You Must Visit [Update 2024]

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The beaches of the Prairie State are proof that they don’t need to be near an ocean. The scenic shoreline of Lake Michigan, which extends for 63 miles into Illinois, is a boon for the state. There are also wonderful beaches where you and your loved ones may relax in the sun, play in the water, and enjoy the season.

Here is a list of the best beaches in Illinois.

1. Illinois Beach State Park

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Illinois Beach State Park is one of the Best Beaches in Illinois You Must Visit

Illinois Beach State Park is the most visited and best beach in Illinois. It’s one of the most stunning lengths of the Midwestern coastline, and it’s located in the northern region of the state. The initial acreage was purchased for the state park in 1948, and more was acquired until the early 1980s, while preservation efforts in the region trace back to the 1880s.

More than seven miles of trails are accessible throughout the park, making it ideal for hikers, cyclists, and even cross-country skiers. The park’s sandy shoreline becomes a popular bathing beach during the summer months, and fishing is allowed in some portions of the north and south sections of the park, with an accessible pier available at Sand Pond. The beach in the Illinois state park is great for swimming and is also kid-friendly.

2. Lake Bluff Sunrise Beach

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Lake Bluff Sunrise Beach

Although Lake Bluff Sunrise Beach is not very large, it is well worth the trip and is the second-best beach in Illinois. It has two public swimming beaches in Lake Bluff that are accessible to the public throughout the summer.

Visitors may get dog-swimming tags at the northernmost beach and swim with their pets. Non-locals are required to pay for a day ticket to use all the amenities that locals get for free. A day’s admission will let you onto the beach and also includes free use of chairs and a picnic table.

3. Howard Beach Park

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The third-best beach in Illinois, Howard Beach Park, is picturesque, and there’s also a little park there. The park and beach are accessible daily from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. (except on national holidays).

The park was established in the early 20th century, in addition to the growing number of apartment dwellers along the city’s Far North Side. The park and beach have been managed as a public amenity by the Chicago Park District since 1959, but the beach itself dates back to at least 1921.

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, while lifeguards are present, guests are welcome to swim in the pool. To pass the time, take in the sights or relax in the open green areas.

Learn more about the best places to visit in Illinois.

4. Clinton Lake State Recreation Area

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Clinton Lake State Recreation Area

If any lake in Illinois is significant outside Lake Michigan, it is Clinton Lake. As an added bonus, the Clinton Lake State Recreation Area provides opportunities to experience and embrace the greatest Christmas spirit. Within this park’s 9,300 acres lies a sandy beach measuring 1,000 feet in length.

The really tropical atmosphere more than makes up for the relatively small size of the beach. While lounging, swimming, and sunbathing are all pleasant options, the area’s true calling is in the fishing arena. With exceptional circumstances, you may catch crappie, walleye, catfish, bass fish, and more.

5. Clark Street Beach

Evanston, Illinois is home to a fantastic public beach; this one located on Clark Street. With its pristine sand and sea, this beach is among the best in the world. Guests may descend to the water’s edge for swimming on authorized days.

The beach is open daily from 6:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and is wheelchair accessible. Just beyond the beach, there’s a picnic space and a volleyball court. Outside of Evanston, visitors must purchase a daily or seasonal permit to access the beach.

6. Calumet Beach

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You can find the beautiful Calumet Beach in Chicago’s Calumet Park. Chicagoans are well aware of its fame, yet it remains a secret treasure to those who have never visited the Windy City. Named after the Norman-French word for “pipe” (chamulet), the park was not established until the 1930s and alludes to the peace pipes that were exchanged between French merchants and native Great Lakes tribes.

The beach is available for swimming with a lifeguard present from Memorial Day to Labor Day. While not engaged in activities, guests may relax at the nearby park. Physically challenged and mobility-concerned visitors may also enjoy the beach’s amenities. Concessions, locker rooms, and showers are also available for the public’s use.

Check out these incredible landmarks in Illinois.

7. Eldon Hazlet State Recreation Area

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A path to Carlyle Lake’s shore is made possible by the Eldon Hazlet State Recreation Area. A sandy beach ideal for swimming, fishing, and boating can be found in this area. The park and the beach is accessible Monday through Friday.

Sailing enthusiasts go there because of the favorable topography and strong winds. Also, there is a swimming pool close by for those who want to cool down on a day when the beach is too busy. Or, if you’d want to take in the beauty of the evening, try extending your stay or setting up camp for the night.

8. North Avenue Beach

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North Avenue Beach, another famous Chicago beach, is a must-see for everyone visiting the state of Illinois. It’s in Lincoln Park, just like the Montrose beach. It is the party atmosphere and the celebratory atmosphere of North Avenue Beach that draws the most attention.

The beach house has 22,000 square feet of guest facilities, such as the laid-back Castaways Bar and Grill and the outdoor NAB Sports complex, which is home to roller hockey, dodgeball, and fitness classes and competitions.

On rare occasions, Sun and Moon Beach Yoga offers beachside yoga classes, and Lakeshore Bike ‘n Tune, Kayak Chicago, and Windy City Watersports all rent bicycles and kayaks, respectively. Accessible at ADA-required hours, the lakeside route also allows swimming throughout the summer. Even though it is the busiest beach in the city, this quirkiest area is nevertheless a must-visit.

9. Lighthouse Beach, Evanston

Lighthouse Beach is an attractive beach close to Northwestern University. For beach goers in Illinois, it is an absolute must. A gorgeous, ancient lighthouse, lush green lawns, and picturesque vistas are all within sight of the beach homes.

Non-Evanston residents must purchase a daily or annual pass to use the lighthouse beach. You may go swimming or sunbathing, have a picnic, or just relax and enjoy the sunset.

10. Montrose Beach, Chicago

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Montrose Beach is one of Chicago’s most well-liked public swimming areas, located just at the end of Montrose Avenue. It’s a great place to take your dog for a tranquil stroll on the beach. One may swim at Montrose Beach while lifeguards are present. In addition, vacationers have the option to rent bicycles, kayaks, and paddleboats for some on-the-water fun.

Visitors from Chicago typically plan to come here at night to see the fireworks display at Navy Pier. Montrose Beach’s convenient position inside Lincoln Park is another reason for its widespread popularity.

11. Lake Shelbyville Beaches

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Last but not least, Lake Shelbyville is fantastic for more than just a single day of fun. The dam on the Kaskaskia River produced Lake Shelbyville, a reservoir of 11,100 acres. Many beaches around the lake are open to the public.

The best places to go down to the water are Lone Point, Lithia Springs, and Wolf Creek State Park. Everyone, from swimmers to anglers to nature lovers, will like this spot. In addition to being a popular place to camp for the night, Lake Shelbyville is also a great place to go boating.

While visiting the beaches, for up-to-date hours of operation, please call ahead to any restaurants and tourist spots you also want to visit so that you don’t miss the chance of enjoying them.

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