Almost all of the major attractions in Chicago are close to the
shore of Lake Michigan and this was a feat of planning rather than
"happenstance". With nine, public lakefront harbors and 26 miles of
unobstructed shoreline, the founding fathers of Chicago made sure
the lake shore would be accessible to Chicago’s citizens and visible
to them as often as possible. Although we have covered the city's
major attractions on other pages of our Chicago Guide, here are a
number of additional attractions along or near the Lake that are very popular.
The Chicago Lakefront Trail is an 18-mile paved path that runs along
beaches, through parks, and past museums, from Hollywood
Avenue on the
North to 79th Street on the South. You can traverse this trail by bike,
roller blade or on foot. Bicycles are available to rent at various
vendors at parks and beaches along the way.
A Lakefront Trail is map
available from the Chicago Park District
website. (If the PDF does not load, try entering
and use their search tool for "Lakefront Trail map".)
Although there are 31 beaches along Chicago’s lakefront, the two most popular are Oak Street Beach and North Avenue Beach.
Oak Street Beach
is located along Chicago’s Gold Coast, just north of the Miracle
Mile, and within walking distance of popular hotels. It is across
the street from the Drake Hotel, and adjacent to some of the
City’s wealthiest neighborhoods.
Oak Street Beach is a premier
people watching beach – it's the perfect place to see and be seen on a hot summer
day. It is also a perfect spot to relax after dark and take in
Chicago’s spectacular skyline. Oak Street Beach also features “Beachstro,”
a restaurant/bar on the sand that serves casual, upscale dining.
North Avenue Beach, adjacent to Lincoln Park, is a beach for
everyone: singles, families, locals and visitors. Its most unique
attraction is its ocean-liner-like beach house, which features: an
outdoor restaurant/bar, concession stand, beach chair rental, bike and
sports equipment rentals, restrooms, and outdoor showers. The
current beach house was built in 2007, but the design closely
replicates the original, which dated from the
start of the Great Depression (1929).
North Avenue Beach is also
the site of Chicago’s Annual Air and Water Show, the largest free
show of its kind. The event takes place over one weekend in August,
and, according to the City’s Tourism Department, more than 2 million
people attend every year. See this section of our Guide to
Chicago for more information on the
and Water Show.
Grant Park, often called Chicago’s “front yard”, encompasses 319 acres along Chicago’s lakefront between Randolph Rd. on the North
and Roosevelt Rd. on the South. It is the site of the Art Institute of Chicago, Buckingham Fountain, Chicago’s Museum Campus, and Millennium Park, as
well as miles of beautiful walking paths and gardens.
Grant Park is host to Chicago’s largest festivals, including: the
Taste of Chicago, The Independence Day Fireworks Show and Concert
(on July 3), Chicago Blues Festival, Chicago Jazz Festival, and
Lollapalooza (a contemporary music fest). See
this section of the ThereArePlaces Chicago Guide for details on
the most popular of these festivals.
Millennium Park is Chicago’s newest downtown park (2004) and a
great place to spend a leisurely day biking, walking the gardens or
viewing the public art exhibitions.
It is also home to Pritzker
Pavilion, where the Grant Park Music Festival takes place all summer
long. The Music Festival provides visitors with free evening
concerts performed by the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus. For a
schedule of concerts, go to the official website for the
If you are visiting between September and May, you may enjoy indoor
music and dance at the Park’s Harris Theater. Millennium Park is
also home to some unique art exhibits, including: the Cloud Gate
(shown above), an
interactive, reflective sculpture; Crown Fountain – featuring two
glass towers showing a series of photographs at each end of a
reflecting pond; and the Boeing Galleries featuring outdoor
sculpture exhibits on the east and west side of the park. To find
up-to-date information about events at Millennium Park, visit its
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Best Places to Visit in Chicago -
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