Lake Michigan

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Lluis Enric Mayans

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  • We know Lake Michigan best
  • What to visit and what activities to do on Lake Michigan?
  • The beaches of Chicago
  • Cruises on Lake Michigan

One of the main natural attractions of the city of Chicago is the lake michigan, on whose western shores lies the well-known locality of Illinois. It is one of the Great Lakes of North America and is the only one to be entirely in American territory.

4 American states overlook Lake Michigan and its shores cover a length of 900 miles. Given its immense size, it looks more like a sea than a lake. Its shores offer wonderful landscapes, with white beaches and wild vegetation.

It is no coincidence that the inhabitants of Chicago flock to these shores to sunbathe, take a dip and practice water sports. Lake Michigan is therefore one of the best meeting points in the city and it is mandatory to drop by, even if only for a walk.

Let's find out more about the American lake, which are the most sought after beaches in Chicago and what other activities you will have the opportunity to do.

We know Lake Michigan best

Lake Michigan is one of the 5 Great Lakes of North America. It is connected to the lago Huron through the Mackinac Strait and among its largest tributaries is the River Fawn.

As already mentioned, it is the only lake to extend entirely on US soil and it is thought that its name derives from a word of the Chippewa Indians which means 'great water'. On the shores of Lake Michigan there are 4 states: Illinois, Michigan, Indiana e Wisconsin.

Covering an area of ​​57.760 square kilometers, it is the fifth largest lake in the world and has a maximum depth of 281 meters. It is almost 200 kilometers wide and it can take up to 4 hours to cross from one bank to the other.

Its coasts are mostly low and regular, with forests in the north and wide beaches on the eastern and south-western shores. To the north, however, the basin is dotted with a series of small islets that are still virgin and uncontaminated.

On Lake Michigan they live approx 12 million people and above all the towns of Michigan and Illinois have exploited these natural beauties to build tourist poles along the beaches, protected from the advent of industrial development.

Among the most important American cities located on Lake Michigan are Chicago, Evanston, Gary, Holland, Milwaukee and Muskegon.

The coast of the lake is then scattered with over 100 lighthouses, while the beaches feature soft white sand, known as singing sands for the typical creak you hear when walking on it. The curious sound effect is due to the high concentration of quartz in the sand.

Furthermore, in Chicago, Lake Michigan gives life to a particular natural phenomenon of considerable impact. In fact, in the winter months the waters of the lake can freeze up to 90%.

When the ice evaporates, a kind of dense fog forms which creates a very captivating sight. In fact, you see the body of water as a huge sheet of ice covered by this mist and in the distance you can see the Chicago skyline.

What to visit and what activities to do on Lake Michigan?

For Chicagoans, Lake Michigan is one of the most popular meeting and entertainment points, especially in the summer season and with the first heat of spring. In spite of what you may think, in the city you live a real one bathing season to all effects.

Therefore, visiting the lake is a must for those who miss the hot and sunny Spanish summer. They await you in Chicago 27 lake beaches, always very crowded thanks to a very varied and diversified recreational and sporting proposal.

On the waters of the lake you can practice water sports such as kayaking and stand up paddling or go for a ride on a jet ski. Lazy people can settle for a simple swim and then relax on the beach.

The summer season goes from May to September and in these months the water has an average temperature of 20-21 ° C. Finally, it is good to say that the beaches of Chicago are all free to access and suitable for swimming. Let's see which are the most popular and equipped.

1 hour cruise on the lake

The beaches of Chicago

North Avenue Beach

North Avenue Beach is one of the most famous and popular beaches you can meet in Chicago and is located not far from Lincoln Park. Open every day of the week from 6:00 to 23:00, it is possible to swim from 11:00 to 19:00, which is when the lifeguards are in action.

The beach is equipped with a wide beach house of 22.000 square meters, housed in a building that resembles an ocean liner and from which it enjoys a splendid view of the lake.

North Avenue Beach is located near the Lakefront Trail, and cyclists, hikers and joggers are often seen. Those who are hungry can still stop at Castaways Bar & Grill to eat something.

Sports enthusiasts, on the other hand, will take yoga lessons, play beach volleyball or rent a jet ski.

Oak Street Beach

Another wonderful beach in Chicago is theOak Street Beach. Here the natural spectacle is of great effect and you will almost feel like you are in the Caribbean.

The beach is made up of fine white sand and the waters shine in a beautiful crystalline green. The entrance is allowed every day from 6:00 to 23:00 and you can swim from 11:00 to 19:00.

Here you have the opportunity to swim, rent bikes and deck chairs and do water sports. In the summer there are many beach volleyball tournaments to attend.

Being close to the neighborhood of Gold CoastThere are many bars, restaurants, hotels and restrooms near Oak Street Beach. In particular, there is theOak Street Beach Café, a coffee shop with a wide range of hot or cold drinks.

Montrose Beach

Very pleasant and well equipped is as well Montrose Beach, which has a fantastic green space where you can relax.

The entrance times are the same as for the other beaches. There are the main comforts, including the free wi-fi, essential for those who want to always stay connected.

You can rent jet skis, bikes and kayaks or take beautiful walks in the company of your dog. Indeed, the north side of Montrose Beach allows access to four-legged friends.

The south side is ideal for bird watching as there is a rich ecosystem of migratory birds. In case you feel like eating or having a drink, we recommend you go to the The dock.

It is a beach club where concerts, events and parties take place. Here you will enjoy fresh fish dishes and you can drink delicious cocktails.

Ohio Street Beach

Ohio Street Beach is a very versatile beach and it is ideal for people of all ages. It is found in the Streeterville neighborhood, adjacent to Jane Addams Memorial Park. It is open from 6:00 to 23:00 and always swimming from 11:00 to 19:00.

The scenario is particular as this part of the coast of Lake Michigan rises close to some skyscrapers.

There is therefore a clear contrast between the beauty of nature and the work of man. The beach is just 10 minutes walk from the famous Magnificent Mile and the water is really good for swimming, kayaking or canoeing.

In the height of summer there are always a lot of people on weekends, but the beach is wide enough to welcome everyone. There is no shortage of toilets, clubs and restaurants.

Rainbow Beach Park

Rainbow Beach Park offers you one wonderful view of the Chicago skyline since it is located in the southern part of the city.

It covers an area of ​​142 acres and houses the Rainbow Beach Dunes, one of the most enchanting nature reserves in the city.

The wi-fi connection is free and among the various services available there are a gym, a fitness center, basketball and tennis courts and several play areas.

Access to dogs is not allowed but there are many activities and programs for children. In summer, the youngest have the opportunity to take part in school camps as well.

Foster Beach

Foster beach is certainly not the busiest or liveliest beach in Chicago. Either way, it turns out to be pretty quiet. It is equipped with best bathing services and it's the perfect place for picnics, parties and more.

The times to enter and swim are the same and the season extends from the Friday before Memorial Day to Labor Day, i.e. the first Monday in September.

The beach has one beach house where you can rent bikes and sports equipment. However, kitesurfing is not allowed.

Forest Beach is famous in Chicago for hosting the Chicago Full Moon Jam. During this summer festival you can admire performances by fire eaters, jugglers and percussionists.

The event begins at sunset, around 19:30 and ends at 22:00. Admission is free and it is forbidden to bring alcohol or light fires.

For detailed information on all Chicago beaches, please refer to official city site.

Cruises on Lake Michigan

Those who have the opportunity to stay in Chicago for a few days can experience a very exciting and romantic experience like the cruise on Lake Michigan which allows you to see the city from an absolutely new perspective.

Here, then, which cruises you can do on the lake:

  • Sunset cruise with buffet: these cruises are among the most popular as they take place at nightfall and offer a wonderful view. The Spirit of Chicago cruise departs from Navy Pier and features a buffet dinner with DJ sets and live entertainment. It is the best choice for couples or newlyweds.
1 hour sunset cruise
  • Simple sightseeing cruise: it is the most common cruise among tourists and it is also the cheapest one for those on a tight budget. For about 30 euros you can take a 40-minute excursion on the lake. The price does not include meals and the departure is always from the docks of the Navy Pier.
Short cruise on the lake
  • Speedboat tour: it is definitely a more original and unusual option. Let's say that it is the perfect solution for the most sporty and above all who do not suffer from seasickness. From the boat you will see the Chicago skyline and some itineraries will lead you to the Chicago River, the homonymous waterway that runs through the metropolis.
Seadog speedboat ride
  • Dinner cruise on the Odessy ship: For an experience of true class and refinement, you can book a beautiful 3-course cruise on the Odessy ship, a luxury yacht with a panoramic saloon and elegant interiors. The menu includes dishes prepared by starred chefs and for the entertainment there is a show with DJ.
Cruise with brunch, lunch or dinner buffet
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