This Gorgeous Midwest City Has One Of The Best Beaches In America

One of the best parts of traveling around the United States is visiting its gorgeous coastlines. The vast country is well known for its scenic beaches. The East Coast is home to powdery, soft white sand stretching along the Atlantic Ocean. Head to the West Coast, and you can soak up the natural beauty of epic cliffs and rugged rock formations emerging from the Pacific Ocean. When most travelers think of a beach vacation in America, they plan a trip to places like Florida or California, but you can also experience one of the nation's best beaches in the Midwestern region of the United States.

Oak Street Beach isn't located anywhere near the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans. Instead, you'll find this gorgeous slice of beachy paradise on the shores of Lake Michigan in the bustling city of Chicago, Illinois. Lake Michigan is one of the largest lakes in the United States and the fifth largest in the world. The lake itself covers about 22,300 square miles. Chicago, sometimes referred to as the Third Coast, stretches along the lake for 26 miles. Oak Street Beach is one of the best spots to enjoy a sunny summer day on the water, and it's a must-visit on your next trip to the Windy City. It's the perfect fun free thing to add to your Chicago bucket list.  

The best way to spend a summer beach day in Chicago

Chicago has some seriously frigid winters and warm, sunny summers. The city comes alive as soon as temperatures increase, and you'll find the beaches full of locals and tourists. Oak Street Beach is amongst the most popular spots in the city, and for good reason. It's located within Chicago's Historic Gold Coast District, an expansive sandy area with plenty of amenities for beachgoers. The beach was constructed in 1890 as an addition to Lincoln Park and has been a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing since the early 1900s.

It's the best place to spend a long day outdoors enjoying the water and taking in the epic views of Chicago's skyline, which serves as a scenic backdrop. Visitors can rent lounge chairs, daybeds, volleyball equipment, and beach umbrellas onsite. Amenities include restrooms, public Wi-Fi, and an ADA-accessible beach walk to the water.

The beach is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. but you can only swim when lifeguards are present, between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. There is no public parking lot, but limited street parking is available. You can also reach the beach via Chicago's train, known as the "L," along the Red Line at the Clark/Division stop. While you're there, check out the beautiful mural painted by Jeff Zimmerman entitled, "You Know What You Should Do," which depicts images inspiring environmentalism.

Shopping, dining, and accommodations along Chicago's coast

Chicago is one of the largest and most lively cities in the United States and makes for a great urban vacation spot. You'll find plenty of options in the city when it comes to accommodations, from relaxed vacation rentals to hip boutique lodgings and 5-star hotels. The Millenium Knickerbocker Hotel is located in a historic building, with rooms starting at about $150 per night, and it's only a seven-minute walk from Oak Street Beach.

Dining options are endless in Chicago. Oak Street Beach Restaurant is a laid-back spot with outdoor seating right on the water that serves casual food that's perfect for a beach day. Fig and Olive is an excellent upscale option within walking distance. You'll also find food trucks and vendors near the beach.

Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood is a premier shopping destination, so after you enjoy a day at the beach, you can browse through the boutiques and luxury designer shops for a glamorous souvenir to commemorate your Chicago trip. Within a 12-minute walk of the beach, you'll find other amazing attractions like the Museum of Contemporary Art, which is one of the best museums to visit when traveling to Chicago. The beach has easy access to the Lakefront Trail, and bike rentals are nearby, offering a car-free way to see even more of Chicago's beautiful waterfront.