The 4 Best Beaches in the Chicago Suburbs

Apr 17, 2023

Some of the very best Chicagoland beaches are in the Suburbs! Check out some of our favorites.

For many families, leaving Chicago for the suburbs boils down to a few key considerations—namely, space, space and more space. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find a host of reasons Chicagoans are heading to suburbia, most of which boil down to specific lifestyles—in other words, finding a suburb that syncs with their unique wants, needs and passions. Passions that, increasingly, include beachfront living.

The Chicago suburbs, maybe surprisingly, are home to some of the best beaches anywhere. Because Lake Michigan feeds right into the greater Chicago area, families have access to endless waterfront fun and a relaxed, beach-inspired lifestyle—especially surrounding some of these top suburban beaches.

#1. Glencoe Beach (Glencoe, Cook County)

Hands down the jewel of the Glencoe Park District, Glencoe Beach is an incredible family hotspot open all summer long. Families can hang out on the sand, splash in the water or grab a paddle board, kayak, or hobie catamaran and hit the surf—all are available at the Beach House for day-of rentals. There’s also a beachfront playground and opportunities to picnic and, even, camp out overnight if your family’s feeling extra adventurous.

Daily admission is just $10 for local residents and $20 for non-residents—children under 2 are free. Many area families, though, opt for a season pass.

#2. Illinois Beach State Park (Zion, Lake County)

This sandy beach stretches nearly seven miles along Lake Michigan and has consistently been voted one of the most beautiful natural settings in the U.S. The only remaining beach ridge shoreline in the state, Illinois Beach has incredible dunes, swales and marshes, plus plenty of oak trees, animals and flowers perfect for families who love life in the great outdoors.

For outdoorsy families, be sure to check out Dead River. This stream is blocked by sandbars during peak season but, when it’s not, you’ll spot tons of aquatic plants and fish, perfect for animal-loving kids. And, anytime, be sure to check out the rest of the 4,160-acre park—there are loads of opportunities for swimming, boating, hiking, camping and picnicking.

#3. Rosewood Beach (Highland Park, Lake County)

Part of the Park District of Highland Park, Rosewood Beach is an award-winning beach on the Lake Michigan shore. Rosewood includes everything from a fun beach open all season long to a full nature cove and public nature programs. You can find a recreation beach, a guarded swimming beach and an expansive boardwalk with food, activities and more. 

#4. Gillson Park (Wilmette, Cook County)

One of the most popular spots in the Wilmette Park District, Gillson Beach offers 60 acres of lakefront access. You can swim in designated areas, or head over to Langdon Park Beach for more in-water options. Got a four-legged friend? Gillson Dog Beach is adjacent—be sure your pup has a beach permit tag so he can go off-leash in the designated area between the pier and the harbor mouth.

Gillson also boasts dedicated areas for picnicking and, even, a sailing beach where rentals and lessons are available. You can rent sailboats day-of, grab racquets and hit the beach’s tennis courts or, in the off-season, skate on Gillson’s lighted ice rink.

Explore The Entire Chicagoland Shoreline with Suburban Jungle

And that’s just the beginning—the Chicago suburbs are filled with great waterfront access and fun, relaxing options for beach-goers. If you need help navigating the best Chicagoland suburb for your next move, schedule a free strategy session with Suburban Jungle today!

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