Swimming Near Chicago: All The Best Spots

Written by Kirstin Harrington
Published: September 15, 2023
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Whether you live in the Windy City or you’re visiting one of the most popular places in the Midwest, Chicago has a lot to offer. Throughout the summer, it can get quite warm, leaving people searching for ways to keep cool.

Thankfully, Chicago offers a plethora of swimming locations to make cooling off fun! There are raging rivers, hidden swimming holes, and popular beaches. Because of the location, the ideal time to hit the water is from Memorial Day through Labor Day. 

Fall can hit the Chicago area relatively quickly, cooling the water fast! Before packing your sunblock and pool noodles, consider a new place to explore. Let’s take a look at the best swimming spots in this area of Illinois. 

Swimming Holes

Michigan, Lake Michigan, Ludington - Michigan, Summer, Beach

Lake Michigan has over 1,600 miles of shoreline!


Starting us off are a few of the best swimming holes in Chicago. There are many things to do at Indiana Dunes National Park, which lies tucked along Lake Michigan’s southern shore. Despite being situated in an urban area, this park is special since it contains four National Natural Landmarks. 

The only remnant beach ridge beachfront in the state is located within Illinois Beach State Park, which stretches gently for nearly seven miles along the sandy edge of Lake Michigan in northern Illinois. The 4,160-acre park, which is split into two parts, has plenty of places to go for water sports, picnicking, biking, fishing, camping, or simply relaxing in the great outdoors.


Centennial Beach

People have been swimming at Centennial Beach for over 80 years!

©3,826 × 2,152 pixels, file size: 1.3 MB, MIME type: image/jpeg – License

Citizens of Chicago have long loved swimming at Centennial Beach. This recreational lake outside of the Windy City has a zero-entry depth and a maximum depth of 15 feet. Everyone can enjoy the slides, diving areas, and volleyball on the beach.   

You may enjoy crystal-clear swimming holes, angling, hiking, and other activities at the Three Oaks Recreation Center near Crystal Lake. There are barbecue grills, boat and fishing rentals, a spray park, and more. 

The 115-acre lake at Independence Grove in Libertyville is perfect for keeping cool on a warm Illinois day. You can go swimming, splash your friends, and engage in a number of water activities. Additionally, there are paths for hiking, picnic areas, and an amphitheater where summertime concerts take place. 

Rivers for Swimming

Chicago Skylines building along green dyeing river of Chicago River on St. Patrick's day festival in Chicago Downtown IL USA

The city dyes the Chicago River green for Saint Patricks Day!


There aren’t many swimming-friendly rivers close to Chicago. In the summertime, Calumet Beach gives beachgoers an opportunity to beat the heat by soaking up the refreshing waters of Lake Michigan. 

The Friday prior to Memorial Day marks the start of beach season, which lasts until Labor Day. Bathrooms and food stalls are included as amenities. Former Mayor Richard J. Daley is known for saying “I want to seee the day there will be fishing in the river…perhaps swimming.” Because of this, there has been an ongoing joke in Chicago about swimming in the Chicago River for almost 50 years. 

On the river’s Main Branch today, residents and visitors compete for kayaks, boats, and rentable pontoons to explore the Chicago River. At the same time, anglers can toss a line, while others enjoy dipping their toes in the water from the shore. The Chicago River is not recommended for swimming due to the poor water quality. Enjoy the river from the surface and explore the Windy City on a kayak! 


Dog Park Series - Chicago Skyline

Bring your dog for a walk around the gorgeous Lake Michigan at North Avenue Beach.

©James Kirkikis/Shutterstock.com

Due to its vast sands, hip beachside bars, and handy placement close to other popular destinations like the nearby Lincoln Park Zoo, North Avenue Beach is one of Chicago’s most well-liked beaches among both locals and tourists. Oak Street Beach is a convenient and beautiful pit stop due to its closeness to The Magnificent Mile and downtown Chicago. 

Additionally, you will be able to see several famous Chicago skyscrapers up close. Loyola Beach, a little further north, has a serene ambiance. It is a favorite among families because of the calmer ambiance, the abundance of greenery, and the children’s playground. 

Edgewater Beach, nicknamed by locals as Hollywood Beach, is another great option. The flourishing LGBTQ+ community in the city also adores the beach.

Extra Large Pools or Water Parks in the Area

Cool people having fun on the water slide with friends and familiy in the aqua fun park glides playing happy and water splashes are all over. Blue sky background looks amazing sunlight

Chicago has a lot of water parks if you’re looking for something more structured and in the city!


The water coasters at Magic Waters Waterpark give visitors of all ages a day of excitement and pleasure. The slides are rated based on how thrilling they are. Sunbathing is a great alternative for individuals who wish to relax for the day in the summer

The best destination for everyone to enjoy a day of fun is Itasca Caribbean Water Park. You’ll think you’ve landed on an island beside the sea. Parents can enjoy recreation when they want, and there is an immersing pool that keeps kids occupied and delighted all day. 

The best water park for individuals looking for water adventure excitement is Joliet Splash Station. There are water mazes that offer transcendental ecstasy, providing visitors with an unforgettable experience.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

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