Take your kids to Chicago-area beaches
It's not summer without a trip to the beach. Try these three family- and wallet-friendly options.
CENTENNIAL BEACH, NAPERVILLE
The western suburb recycled a former quarry into this four-acre inland beach, with zero-depth-entry waters and plenty of sand for tots to build castles. Teens hang out at the deep end—which has a pier and a diving board, while families stretch out with a picnic or a game of Frisbee on the large grassy field. 500 W Jackson Ave, Naperville (630-848-5092, napervilleparks.org). $10 per person ($3 per person after 5pm), check website for hours.
GLENCOE BEACH, GLENCOE
This pristine beach is designed to make the most of your lakeside fun, rain or shine. Rent umbrellas ($4) when it’s hot out, or take shelter in a shaded, picnic-table-dotted trellis area (free before 4pm, first-come, first-served) during a downpour. Kid-friendly activities include a water-play area and complimentary programs such as Sailfest (July 25), which offers a youth sailing clinic and free hot dogs. Bring your tennis rackets and grab a game on the artificial grass courts at adjacent Lakefront Park. 1 Park Ave, Glencoe (847-835-1185, glencoeparkdistrict.com). Adults $9 ($5 from 6–8pm), kids 17 and under $7 ($4 from 6–8pm), check web site for hours.
31ST STREET BEACH
Show up early to nab parking and a patch of sand at this family-friendly stretch on the city’s South Side. The beach features spotless shores and surf, a playground and stroller beach mats so you can wheel wee ones right up to your umbrella. Older kids can bring boogie boards and skateboards—the beach is next to Burnham Skate Park, a 20,000-square-foot site with rails and stairs for thrashing. 31st Street and Lake Michigan (312-742-5121, chicagoparkdistrict.com). May 22–Sept 7, daily, swimming 11am–7pm.