Top 5 North Shore Beaches

Lake Michigan is one of the North Shore’s most treasured assets—and with summer in full swing, it’s time to get ready to hit the beach and really enjoy it! Here’s a rundown of the best local beaches and what you can expect to enjoy at each one.

Glencoe Beach
Hazel and Park Ave., Glencoe
Info: 847-835-1185
10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Why it’s great: Glencoe Beach has limited parking available, but it’s FREE! Parking passes aren’t necessary—just your ability to get up and going early. Also? The beach staff operates a cart service from the lot to the beach, meaning you don’t have to lug everything down to the beach—or back up at the end of the day when you’re out of gas.

Amenities: There’s a well-equipped sand/water play area for kids, full-service concessions, beach house with ample bathrooms and showers. Plus there are sand chair, kayak, sailboat and umbrella rentals. There’s also a park above the beach that includes tennis courts and lots of green space.

Daily Pass: Resident, $6/$4 child (1 – 17); Non-resident, $9/$7 child

Special Details:
Beach carts operate 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. during the week and 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. on weekends, free parking, twilight rates (6 – 8 p.m.), playground, concessions, sand chair and umbrella rentals.
Forest Park Beach
East end of Deerpath on Lake Rd., Lake Forest
Info: 847-234-6702 ext. 8
Hours: Lifeguards on duty 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Why it’s great: Forest Park Beach is beautiful—it’s got a top-notch view, plus there are large beach and grass areas, walking trails, restrooms, a playground, fishing pier and concessions. And if you forgot your trashy beach read, you can hit up their free book cart to get you through the day.

Amenities: 29 acres, sailboat and kayak rentals, volleyball nets and more!

Daily Pass: Residents, free; Non-residents, $10 on weekends and holidays.

Parking Costs:
$10 daily parking pass must be purchased at 110 E. Laurel Ave. Call ahead for information. Non-residents are advised to park at the Lake Forest Train Station.

Special Details: Concessions, playground, restrooms available.



Clark Street Beach
Clark St. at Sheridan Rd. (1811 Sheridan Rd), Evanston
Info: 847-492-7082 ext. 7
Hours: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily after June 1

Why it’s great: Maybe you just can’t live outside the city. If you’d like that urban feel without driving downtown, Clark Street Beach offers up a great Chicago skyline view and a college town feel.

The beach offers up great volleyball action and lots of green space. However, there are no on-site concessions. You’ll need to venture off the beach and into the park for your munchies. Also, keep in mind parking is an issue—look for meters along Sheridan Road, or bum a ride off an NU employee.

Daily Pass: $8/$6 child (1 – 12)

Special Details:
No smoking, free Monday admission from July 6 – August 24 for residents.

Looking for other beaches in Evanston? Try these:

Dempster/Greenwood Street Beach, Greenwood Street at the lakefront (1401 Sheridan); Lee Street Beach, Lee Street and Lake Shore Boulevard (1111 Lake Shore Blvd.); South Boulevard Beach, South Boulevard at the lakefront (525 Sheridan Square); Lighthouse Beach, Central Street at Sheridan Road (2611 Sheridan Rd.).

Gillson Beach:

Lake Avenue at Lake Michigan, Wilmette
Info: 847-256-0333 (General Info: 847-256-9656)
Hours: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. (Concessions open at 10 a.m.)

Why it’s great: As far as amenities go, Gillson is loaded—full-service concessions and a beach house, a fantastic playground for the kids and fully groomed sand, Plus it’s situated directly at the end of Lake Avenue, making it easy to access. The only hitch? You need to plan ahead for parking. Daily parking decals for Monday through Friday are available from the Parks Department. Gillson also requires picnic and grilling permits, but you can obtain those at the beach from the “Picnic Patrol.”

Daily Pass: Resident, $3.75; Non-residents, $7.50 (After 6 p.m., residents, $1.50/non-residents, $3)

Parking costs:
The upper road located between the south park entrance and the Washington Street exit is open for parking to all automobiles—resident and non-resident. Lakefront Parking Decals, required to park in lots and closer to beach, are available at 1200 Wilmette Ave. or the Lakeview Center in Gillson Park.

Special Details: Concessions, restrooms, playground, twilight rates


Tower Beach
Tower and Sheridan, Winnetka
Info: 847-501-2077
Hours: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Why it’s great: Winnetka’s Tower Beach also offers a number of amenities, including restrooms, showers, foot baths, concessions, water/sand play areas and beach volleyball courts. There are two parking lots available to beach-goers.

Daily Pass: Residents, $4/$3 child; Non-residents, $10/$8 child

Special Details: Restrooms, concessions and playground.

Other beaches in Winnetka: Maple Street Park, Maple and Sheridan Rd. (Beach house with restrooms, off-street parking); Elder Lane, Elder and Sheridan Road (Beach house with restrooms, off-street parking)