While you would have a hard time convincing anyone that has lived in Chicago for any amount of time that the Oak Street Beach reminds you of a tropical climate, it truly is one of the most enjoyable places you can spend a summer day in the entire city. And if you sit just long enough on the sandy beach looking out over Lake Michigan, and ignore the sounds and the wind that has made the Windy City world-famous, you might be able to see for yourself for just a split second that you’re somewhere south of the equator.
Located on the north shore and reaching out into the cold waters of Lake Michigan, the fact of the matter is that the Oak Street Beach is a relative newcomer to the city’s landscape. Growing up at the same time that the city was, it wasn’t until the late 1800s and early 1900s that the Oak Street Beach was anything more than a silty, nasty, chunk of land that jutted gently into the waters of Lake Michigan. But with the expansion of the city limits, and new piers needed on the city’s waterways, the construction of different areas of the Chicago River led to more sand building up on the North End. This created the Oak Street Beach, something that didn’t take too terribly long to enjoy by all the residents.
One of the most popular spots for residents and visitors to Chicago alike, you would be hard-pressed to find the beach barren or empty at any point in time during the summer. When the sun climbs into the August sky and beats the city with their world-famous heat waves and power outages, literally thousands of people flock to the banks of Lake Michigan to get the much needed rest spot that they deserve.
While it certainly isn’t some sandy spot in the middle of the Caribbean, it never claims to be. What you will find the moment you step onto Oak Street Beach is that it is a fun way to get out of the hot city and pavement jungle when temperatures start to climb. You’ll find in a collective group of different people hitting the beach at the same time, and there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to strike up quick friendships with all of these beachgoers.
Location/Map: 1001 N Lake Shore Dr, Oak Street Beach, IL 60611