Party Earth Review One of the most popular of Chicago’s 33 lakefront beaches, North Avenue Beach gets packed as soon as it opens on Memorial Day, as a wave of image-conscious 20-somethings peel off their heavy fleeces to reveal... ... read full review
1600 North Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60614
Brown, Purple Express Lines: Sedgwick
24/7 (Memorial Day to Labor Day)
Lincoln Park, Chicago –
One of the most popular of Chicago’s 33 lakefront beaches, North Avenue Beach gets packed as soon as it opens on Memorial Day, as a wave of image-conscious 20-somethings peel off their heavy fleeces to reveal the results of their winter workouts.
Besides surf and sun, the beach’s main draws are the nearly 50 volleyball courts and the massive beach house at its southern end, a $7 million space inspired by an ocean liner that provides showers, bike rentals, and the raucous rooftop restaurant and bar Castaways.
On summer weekends, nearly every inch of sand is covered with towels and tanners, as loud and happy sunbathers cram in elbow to elbow to enjoy views of the skyline and acres of cleavage. Since Lake Michigan’s waters tend to fluctuate between frigid and “Sweet Jesus!”, most of the action centers around flirting and people-watching instead of swimming – which means athletic types opt to use the outdoor gym or run and rollerblade on the lakefront path before charging into the icy water for a cool-down.
As twilight approaches, Castaways gets even more packed with gaggles of sunburned revelers ready to down a few cold drinks, creating a scene some describe as Miami without the salt.
Chicago may get only three months of tanning weather, but the regular partiers at North Avenue Beach don’t seem to have any problem settling into the beach bum lifestyle.
Athletic and social mix of college students, volleyball fans, and local sunbathers, early 20s to early 30s+.
Live music at Castaways (1603 North Lake Shore Drive) every weekend. Competitive beach volleyball tournaments all summer. The Chicago Air and Water Show in August.
Burger and ice cream stand located on ground level of boat house.
Full menu at Castaways.
Several food carts on beach.
Outdoor gym available for day use.
Restrooms and showers available, but no designated changing rooms.
Lifeguards on duty normally 11am–6pm daily (Memorial Day to Labor Day), and as early as 9:30am from June 20–August 21.
Appetizers $7–$9, burgers and sandwiches $7–$11. Beer $5–$6, cocktails $6–$8.
Volleyball court rental $5/day for first come/first serve or $10/hour with reservations, equipment rental $5–$20, bike rental $10–$35, inline skate rental $10–$35. Gym day pass $5. Parking $5. Street parking also available.
Beach or workout attire: bikinis, board shorts, breezy cover-ups.
Any sunny day between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Most crowded on Saturdays and Sundays.
Stretching from 71st Street on the south end to Hollywood Avenue on the north, the paved eighteen-mile Lakefront Trail goes right past the beach and is popular with bikers, runners, skaters, and walkers.