Chicago's North Shore might not be the first destination that comes to mind for those looking to catch some waves, but there's plenty of waterfront fun to be had here all summer long. With a variety of beaches waiting to be explored, there’s also plenty of opportunity to learn a new skill or see our beautiful shoreline from a different view thanks to the rentals and lessons offered at each sandy spot. So start planning your outing! Unfortunately, the end of beach season will be here before we know it.
Evanston When it comes to fun out on the water, there's no better place to be than Evanston. Start by renting a sailboat, kayak, or stand up paddle board (and if you're not quite comfortable with any of those just yet, sign up for a private or group lesson). But the fun doesn't stop there — the City of Evanston also offers lakefront activities like tubing parties and historical kayak tours. There will even be a sand castle contest later this summer. Plus, check out the Northwestern University Sailing Center for rentals of Hobie catamarans, kayaks, and stand up paddle boards, as well as windsurfing lessons and classes. *Note: you'll find plenty of street, metered or garage parking in Evanston a short walk from each of these beaches.
Paddle Boarding and Sailing, Evanston Beaches
Skokie Lagoons This forest preserve features 894 gorgeous acres of hiking and biking trails, picnic areas, and, of course, lots of water to explore. Here you can rent a single canoe or kayak and tandem kayaks for a full day of fun or just an hour-long retreat. Visit on Monday for a $5 discount on hourly rentals (except on holidays), or join the River Rambler Club to enjoy five outings with the sixth free. You can also sign up for guided trips like cardio kayak classes and sunset nature trips. *Note: parking lots available off Tower Rd. as well as Willow Rd.
Kayaking, Skokie Lagoon
Winnetka Spend your weekend on the water at Winnetka's Lloyd Beach Boat Launch (799 Sheridan Road, Winnetka - see daily rates) or Elder Beach (239 Sheridan Road, Winnetka - see daily rates), where you can rent stand up paddle boards and kayaks (Lloyd Beach Boat Launch only) on Saturdays and Sundays. Life jackets are also available, and you'll receive basic technique and safety instructions before you head out on the water. *Note: free parking lot available at Elder Beach. Click here for detailed parking information for the Lloyd Beach Boat Launch.
Kayaking and Sailing, Winnetka Beaches
Glencoe Beach This beach at 55 Hazel Ave. in Glencoe is one of the best spots to spend the summer on Chicago's North Shore. In addition to swimming and picnicking, you can enjoy some extra fun on the water thanks to a wide variety of beach rentals. From kayaks and paddle boards to Hobie catamarans and even sailboats, there are plenty of options when it comes to watercraft, which means you can learn a few new skills before fall arrives. When you're done, rent a chair and/or umbrella to end the day relaxing in the sand. *Note: free parking available on Hazel Ave. and Park Ave. east of Longwood Ave., and on Longwood between Hazel and Park). No cars allowed at beach level.