Life's a beach (especially on July 4th weekend), so head out for some recreation and relaxation at our favorite area waterfronts.
Humboldt Park Beach
It’s not the placid lakefront stretching blue for miles, but when you just want to cool down, who cares? If glamour is what you’re looking for, this beach has you covered. Sit near the Jens Jensen–inspired fieldhouse, which serves as a backdrop to the sandy, shallow-bottomed wading pond. After a dip, grab an alcapurria, a fried meat dumpling, or another Puerto Rican delicacy from one of several street-food vendors near Hirsch Street and Kedzie Avenue. 1400 N Sacramento Ave, 312-742-7549. Free.
63rd Street Beach
Hometown hip-hopper Lupe Fiasco has spoken fondly about his childhood experiences at the Jackson Park lakefront, including watching the nightly African drumming performances, a beach staple. Sporty types can partake in a game of volleyball-—courts are free to play on. Not-so-sporty types: Chicago All Fired Up food truck sells fried-chicken wings and barbecue rib tips, and Stella’s Market, an African-Caribbean shack inside the beach house, serves jerk-chicken sammies and fruit smoothies. With an ADA-accessible ramp that leads to the water, the locale seems almost perfect. However, the spot is known for frequent closures. Fortunately, the Chicago Park District has added a new way to obtain the swim status of any beach: Text the beach name to 312-715-SWIM for an automated response. 6300 S Lake Shore Dr, 312-742-5369. Free.
Osterman Beach (a.k.a. Hollywood Beach)
Diaper-bag-toting parents, G-string–wearing fellas and dog lovers share this super-safe beach, a huge expanse of immaculate, white sand on the North Side. On the weekend, guys crowd the volleyball net for spectator-worthy matches. And, while the amenities aren’t posh, beachgoers seem to appreciate the convenience of restrooms with showers and simple beach chow like hot dogs, burgers, chips and lemonade. 5800 N Lake Shore Dr, 312-742-5121. Free.