Despite temperatures in the mid- 50s Chicago beaches are now officially open. While no one will mistake Chicago for Miami Beach it does have some very nice beaches, 24 to be exact. Yes, Lake Michigan does freeze in the winter, but it heats up rather quickly in the summer. Water temperatures at the beaches regularly reach 80 degrees in August.
Most Chicago beaches are fairly quiet and somewhat secluded. A few are very lively. High on the list of party-scene beaches is North Avenue Beach. Throngs of teenagers and young adults hit the beach every time the sun comes out. On weekends there is barely enough room left to put down a beach towel. North Avenue Beach has the best amenities on the lakefront. There is a café and bar, small convenience store, snack shop, bathrooms and outdoor showers. There are a number of rental companies as well, including jet skis, paddle boards and bikes. North Avenue Beach has dozens of sand volleyball courts, although you do have to bring your own ball and net and some are reserved for clubs and groups.
Also downtown is Oak Street Beach which can be a bit of a madhouse on weekends. It is the view that makes this beach special. Set between the high-rises of N Michigan Avenue and the tranquil waters of Lake Michigan, it is a great place to people watch. Amenities here include a restaurant with seating and walk-up service as well as a bar. This beach also has bathroom facilities.
Those looking for a more family-friendly beach near Navy Pier can head to the end of Ohio Street to the aptly named Ohio Street Beach. You still get the great city views, calm water and wide beach space but without the mass of teenagers. There is a nice restaurant and bar set on the beach for those looking for the beach experience without all the sand.