Party Earth Review It may be one of the smallest of Chicago’s lakefront beaches, but Oak Street Beach is also one of the most popular – and certainly the most upscale. Nestled in the shadow of the skyscrapers, ritzy apartment buildings... ... read full review
500–1550 North Lake Shore Drive
Chicago, IL 60611
Brown, Purple Express Lines: Chicago; Red Line: Chicago, Clark/Division
24/7 (Memorial Day to Labor Day)
Gold Coast, Chicago –
It may be one of the smallest of Chicago’s lakefront beaches, but Oak Street Beach is also one of the most popular – and certainly the most upscale.
Nestled in the shadow of the skyscrapers, ritzy apartment buildings, and designer stores of Lake Shore Drive, the beach doesn’t exactly channel the natural world, either in terms of scenery or of the biologically photoshopped population that crowds its shores every summer. Toned athletic types play a few hard rounds of volleyball as runners, skaters, and cyclists take to the Lakefront Trail, but the emphasis is less on sports and more on relaxation.
While energetic pretty people head up to North Avenue Beach in search of a rowdier scene, the more affluent types prefer Oak Street for sitting quietly in their expensive swimwear and taking in the sun.
Appetites fueled by hours of lounging bring breezy beachgoers in cover-ups to fine dining spot Oak Street Beachstro on the south end of the sand, where they settle in al fresco for seafood, steak, wine, and cocktails beneath the shade of the temporary palm trees planted each summer.
Relaxed but with a healthy dose of swank, Oak Street Beach is an excellent Gold Coast getaway for sun worshippers who want a touch of the high life.
Beautiful, affluent Gold Coast crowd, upscale tourists, Chicago natives, runners, cyclists, scuba divers, and chess players, 20s to 40s+.
Outdoor chess pavilion on the north end of the beach. Air and Water Show, usually in August. Scuba diving.
Snacks at the food carts along the Lakefront Trail.
The Oak Street Beachstro (1001 North Lake Shore Drive) offers sandwiches, pizza, seafood, and steak. Ice cream and other treats at a nearby snack stand.
Lifeguards on duty normally 11am–6pm daily (Memorial Day to Labor Day), and as early as 9:30am from June 20–August 21.
Concessions $1–$5. Restaurant: breakfast buffet $10–$18, appetizers $6–$16, sandwiches $6–$18, salads $9–$19, entrées $20–$30. Beer $5–$8, wine $8–$12, cocktails $9–$12.
Beachwear, designer sunglasses, and a towel.
Any sunny day between May and September, though crowds are greatest on weekends and holidays.
The five-star hotels across the street all have luxurious day spas, including the Spa at Four Seasons (120 East Delaware Place), where guests can take advantage of an opulent indoor pool.