7 Best Beaches to Visit Near Chicago

Is every cell in your body craving a beach getaway? As much as we’d love to teleport ourselves to a far-flung island on a whim, reality gets in the way.

Limited vacation time, tight budgets, and more of life’s obligations make it hard to get on a plane. But Chicago residents are blessed with the next best thing — gorgeous, sandy beaches just a short drive from the Windy City. And we’re talking way more peaceful than Chicago’s Northerly Island hustle and bustle.

Maybe you’ll pick the lively North Avenue Beach or flock to Oval Beach’s picturesque sunsets. Of course, there’s always the unmissable, serene beach town of Miller Beach.

Whether you’re a beach bum hoping to soak up some sun, or just another stressed-out city slicker craving some peace and quiet, you’ll find a beachside paradise within a mere hour or so from Chicago.

After all, that’s why we’re in business. At Miller Beach Vacation Rentals, we’ve handpicked gorgeous Southside properties and beach houses with carefully curated amenities to give you a truly hospitable, comfortable holiday just a stone’s throw away from home.

So, where to begin? We’ll walk you through the best beaches near Chicago and explain why we love Miller Beach the most.

1. The City of Miller Beach

Photo Credit: Steve Johnson via Flickr CC2.0

What can we say? Miller Beach is still a hidden gem that we don’t mind sharing.

The beach village is located in Gary, Indiana, only 40 miles southeast of Chicago. It’s close enough to sneak a weekend getaway but gorgeous enough to extend it another week!

Miller Beach is part of the Indian Dunes National Park, famous for stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, hiking trails, and lush flowers. Lucky for you, Miller Beach has its own oasis of beaches for you to choose from!

2. Lake Street Beach

Photo Credit: Ashley Bree Photography via Flickr CC2.0
  • Address: 860 N Lake Street, Gary, IN
  • Distance from Chicago: 36.3 miles / 1 hour
  • Price: $7 vehicle fee for Indiana residents / $10 for others
  • Opening Hours: 10 am to 6 pm for swimming
  • Opening Season: Sunday before Memorial Day to Labor Day

Miller Beach’s most renowned south shore stop is the two-mile Lake Street Beach, where visitors can sink into the soft sands from dusk till dawn. A small playground and picnic area make Lake Street Beach super kid-friendly. It’s also a dog beach, a lovely spot to bond with man’s best friend.

Did you bring your binoculars? Lake Street Beach is a haven for bird enthusiasts who flock to the area to catch glimpses of migratory birds — gulls and terns — along the shoreline.

But if you crave more adventure than the average birdwatcher, we’ve got something for you too. For a heart-pumping, wind-in-your-hair kind of day, rent out a jet-ski and explore the waters with water sports.

Biking, jet skiing, walking — all this activity is making us hungry. Luckily, Miller Pizza Co. isn’t too far. Grab a deep-dish and hot wings to share, and thank us later.

3. West Beach – Indiana Dunes National Park

Photo Credit: Anna Westman
  • Address: 376 N County Line Road, Gary, IN
  • Distance from Chicago: 37.8 miles / 1 hour
  • Price: 7 Day Entrance Pass $15 / 7-Day Park Vehicle Pass $25
  • Opening Hours: 7:00 am to 9:00 pm

Indiana Dunes National Park opens up to the secluded West Beach, with faint views of the Chicago skyline and the skyscrapers on a clear day. Hike through the towering dunes to reach the beach, or check out the bike rentals to explore the winding trails.

Sunrises here are otherworldly, but if you find it impossible to leave the comfy beds of our cozy rental, come to West Beach for sunsets. Blazing colors that change from pink and purple to vermillion. At only a 5 min drive from downtown Miller Beach, making it a beautiful pit stop before grabbing dinner and turning in for the night.

4. North Avenue Beach

Photo Credit: f11photo
  • Address: 1600 N Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL
  • Distance from Downtown Chicago: 5.8 miles / 16 minutes by car
  • Price: Free Entrance
  • Opening Hours: 6 am to 11 pm
  • Opening Season: Swimming is allowed in designated areas from 11 am to 7 pm during the beach season, which runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

We don’t have to drive too far for this one. Chicago residents are blessed to be situated just on the shorelines of the stunning Lake Michigan waters.

In fact, North Avenue Beach is located in the heart of Chicago, conveniently close to the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Navy Pier, and just south of Near North Side. So pump up your kids for a beachy morning, followed by an afternoon of wildlife fun! You can even sneak a shopping trip on the Magnificent Mile beforehand, as it’s only a 30-minute walk.

It’s shocking how many activities you can choose from at this city beach. You might carve some ad-hoc volleyball courts in the sand or stay fit on one of the beach’s immaculate running and biking paths. Then, take the kiddos on a wholesome stroll through the Lakefront Trail, which runs right alongside the coastline.

The best part? That’s all in the city! North Avenue Beach is definitely one of the most central on this list of Chicago beaches.

But all that swimming and exploring may have tuckered you out. Why not doze off on your beach chair to the sound of the gentle Lake Michigan waves? Once your grumbling stomach wakes you up, head over to the nearby Lakefront Restaurant. Now’s the time to sip on a spicy Bloody Mary or mimosa while relishing the decadent cheese platter — all while enjoying an immaculate city view.

PS — if you’re looking for sunbathing opportunities in uptown Chicago, check out Montrose Beach or Loyola Beach near Rogers Park instead.

Still, you may crave a beach option further out of the city – just so it feels more like a getaway. Keep reading for more options!

5. Oval Beach

Photo Credit: FotoKina
  • Address: 690 Perryman Street, Saugatuck, MI
  • Distance from Chicago: 141 miles / 2 hours 20 mins
  • Price: $10 for all-day parking
  • Opening Hours: 9 am to 10 pm
  • Opening Season: Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend

It’s easy to see why people from all around the state flock to Oval Beach in Saugatuck, Michigan. The area attracts nearly 200,000 vacationers annually, making Oval Beach one of the most popular beaches in the region — yet it never feels too crowded. This is one of the farther beaches on our list, a 2.5-hour drive from Chicago.

Our take? It’s totally worth it. This beach is nestled between sand dunes, demanding a little hike on your part. You might love a challenging stroll up to Mount Baldhead for panoramic views and otherworldly sunsets.

Sit on the tiny sand dune cliffs and bask in the golden light of the descending sun as the sky morphs into a kaleidoscope of vivid, fiery hues.

Make sure you book a Miller Beach vacation rental if you want to see Oval Beach. Trust us; it’ll break up the long ride from Chicago as a nice middle ground.

6. Kathy Osterman Beach

Photo Credit: James Andrews1
  • Address: 5800 N Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL
  • Distance from Chicago: 9.2 miles / 16 minutes
  • Price: Free Entry
  • Opening Hours: 6 am to 11 pm
  • Opening Season: Swimming is allowed in designated areas from 11 am to 7 pm when the lifeguards are around during the beach season, which runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Could a relaxing getaway still make you feel like you’re making a difference? Yes, if you visit Kathy Osterman Beach – named after Chicago politician and LGBTQ+ advocate Kathy Osterman! All our welcome here, as the community proudly encourages body positivity, diversity, and inclusion.

Amenities of the beach include volleyball courts, a concession stand, and restrooms with showers. During the warmer months, the beach turns into a lively cultural hub. Fun events and activities like live music, movies in the park, and fitness classes are hosted on the beach.

7. Weko Beach

Photo Credit: Eric Allix Rogers
  • Address: 5239 Lake Street, Bridgman, MI
  • Distance from Chicago: 84.3 miles / 1 hour 25 mins
  • Distance from Miller Beach: 50.6 miles / 55 mins
  • Price: $15 for all-day parking
  • Opening Hours: 8 am – 11 pm

Looking for as immersive an experience as possible? You might like Weko Beach for its sense of untouched beauty. No lifeguards here, which adds to the organic appeal – just bring a lifejacket and strong swimming arms.

Still, you can rent kayaks and paddle boards for $25 an hour. Consider an afternoon of canoeing or boating with the family for more leisurely water activity.

Besides the stunning landscapes and views, Weko Beach has concession stands, clean bathrooms, changing area, and a boardwalk.

Stay and Play at Miller Beach

Miller Beach is an underrated, scenic neighborhood with pristine shores and luxury rentals that offer unparalleled comfort and style. It’s the perfect destination for a peaceful beach escape or exploring the region’s natural beauty.

Pack your sunscreen, grab your swimsuits, and make a reservation with Miller Beach Rentals.

Experience ultimate beachfront luxury with our exquisite villas and charming cottages, designed with your comfort in mind. Every rental is equipped with free wi-fi, too! And don’t worry about leaving your furry friend behind. Our properties are dog-friendly! Gift yourself an unforgettable holiday by booking your stay with us today.

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