Breakwaters Bring New Life to Winnetka’s Lloyd Beach, Just in Time for Summer

Lloyd Beach Winnetka Illinois

New breakwaters, a boardwalk, and other upgrades are complete, and Winnetka’s Lloyd Beach will be ready for boaters this summer. 

One of five beaches in the Winnetka Park District, Lloyd Beach has undergone a major facelift over the past year. The breakwaters have helped bring back the beach and boat launch, which are schedule to reopen Memorial Day weekend. 

“Now that we’ve installed the breakwater, there’s a huge beach,” said Kelsey Raftery, marketing brand manager for the Winnetka Park District. “It’s spectacular.” 

The district spent $5.5 million on improvements at Lloyd Beach and at the Tower Road Beach in 2020. Ongoing improvements to the beaches this year are expected to cost $9 million.   

Lloyd Beach Winnetka Illinois
The new boulders at Lloyd Beach are designed to hold back the lake’s waves and protect the beach.

The changing lake levels and crushing Lake Michigan waves left Lloyd Beach under water for most of the 2019 season, Raftery said. 

“There wasn’t any beach left,” she said. “The beach essentially was unusable.”

Though the park district is making improvements at each of its beaches, Lloyd Beach quickly became a top priority, Raftery said. 

“It was getting damaged so quickly and we were losing so much beach that it took precedence,” she said. 

The new breakwaters, made of boulders and designed to hold for 100 years or more, hold back the lake’s waves and stabilize the beach. The breakwaters also help capture drifting sand. 

Now instead of water lapping up to the beach house, the breakwaters have helped create two half-moon beaches.  The beach house, once inundated by water, now stands surrounded by sand in between the two beaches. 

“Now there’s actually a beach,” Raftery said. 

The breakwaters were initially planned to be installed in two phases in 2020 and 2021. But with the beach closed due to the pandemic, the work was completed by November. 

Other improvements at Lloyd Beach include a new boardwalk. A new trail leading to the beach will make it easier to launch kayaks and paddle boards. New boat storage racks for small watercraft also are available. 

On the north side a new access road for motorized boats leads to the boat launch. Fenced-in storage also is available.

The park district’s 2030 Master Plan also outlines improvements to each of the four remaining beaches. Improvements, including breakwaters similar to Lloyd Beach, also are in the works for the Elder Lane and Centennial beaches. Construction for those improvements is expected to begin this year and go into 2022.

Unlimited pier launch passes and personal watercraft pier launch passes are $495 for residents and $990 for non-residents. Unlimited beach launch passes are $220 for residents and $440 for non-residents. 

Daily passes, accepted Monday through Wednesday, also are available. Daily beach launch passes are $10 for residents and $20 for non-residents. Daily pier launch passes are $25 for residents and $50 for non-residents. 


Content produced by Make It Better Media Group in partnership with the Winnetka-Northfield Chamber of Commerce.


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Alicia Fabbre is a Chicago-area freelance writer. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Naperville Sun and Daily Southtown. She lives in the suburbs with her husband and their twin teenagers. When she’s not working, she enjoys bike riding or walking the trails at her local forest preserve, cheering on her student athletes and family game nights.