Lake Michigan Beaches for Families and Kids

Lake Michigan has miles of beautiful shoreline with family-friendly beaches. Here are some of our favorites starting north in Wisconsin and going south to Indiana and Michigan, all within an easy drive of Chicago and the suburbs.


Illinois Beach State Park
Location: Zion. Six miles of beaches along with a campground, resort, hiking and biking trails and visitors’ center.

Waukegan Municipal Beach
One mile of sand groomed daily along with natural dunes. Swimming, volleyball, kite boarding and surfing.

Gilson Park
Location: Wilmette. Nearly 60 acres of park with sports, picnic areas, tot lot. Swimming is permitted in a lifeguard area only with fees. Dog beach at south end of park.

Five beaches open from 10:30am-7:30pm with a daily fee or season pass.

Zion bike trail Lake Michigan beach

Zion Bike Trail ©IL Dept of Natural Resources

Chicago Park District Beaches
Loyola Beach
Location: East Rogers Park. Nearly 2/3 mile walking trail along the beach and lakefront. Sculpture areas for sitting and slopes for children to play on with a playground just east of the Loyola Park field house. Pay parking available.

Kathy Osterman Beach (also known as Hollywood Beach)
Location: Edgewater. Beautiful water, white sands and great city views at the northernmost tip of Lincoln Park. New beachhouse and concession stand. The shallow water on the beach’s north is great for families. Limited street parking.

Montrose Beach, Harbor & Dog-friendly Beach
Location: Lincoln Park. Natural area with serene dunes and bird habitats. Sports including kiteboarding, surfing, kayaking, canoeing and access to the Lake Michigan Water Trail. Restaurant and free wifi. Pay parking lot along with street parking.

North Avenue Beach
Location: Lincoln Park. A unique beach house with upper decks and portholes for viewing the shoreline. One of Chicago’s most popular beaches with bikers, runners, walkers and rollerbladers. Many water sport rentals, restaurant and free wifi. Parking lot with pay gate.

Oak Street Beach
Location: Gold Coast/Streeterville neighborhood. The largest area of deep water swimming and best beach for volleyball with a number of tournaments held here. Very popular beach with limited street parking.

12th Street Beach
Location: Northerly Island Park just south of Adler Planetarium on Chicago’s Museum Campus. Parking lot with pay gate.

57th St. Beach
Location: Jackson Park near Hyde Park. This beach can be reached via a pedestrian underpass from the Museum of Science and Industry.

Illinois Dog-friendly beaches
Gilson Park in Willmette.
Evanston Dog Beach at Church St.
Montrose Beach in Chicago.


West Beach
Location: Portage, IN. Family friendly beach with concessions, showers, picnic area. Parking lot.

Indiana Dunes State Park
Location: Chesterton, IN. Three miles of beach with forest and dunes. Concessions, picnic areas, parking lot.


New Buffalo Public Beach
Location: 100 Marquette Drive, New Buffalo, MI

Oval Beach
Location: Take Perryman Street to the Oval Beach parking lot, or take the chain ferry from 528 Water Street in Saugatuck and walk .6 miles to the beach.

Silver Beach County Park
Location: 101 Broad Street, St. JosephMI

Warren Dunes State Park
Location: 12032 Red Arrow Highway, Sawyer MI


North Beach
Location: Racine, WI. 50 acres with 2,500 feet or shoreline for swimming, fishing and picnicking. Concession stand, live music and kids’ playground.