Chicago's most popular strand of sand wafts a Southern California vibe. Buff teams spike volleyballs, kids build sandcastles and everyone jumps in for a swim when the weather heats up. Bands and DJs rock the steamboat-shaped beach house, which serves ice cream and margaritas in equal measure. Kayaks, jet-skis, stand up paddle boards, bicycles and lounge chairs are available to rent, and there are daily beach yoga classes.
A short walk on the curving breakwater yields postcard skyline views. Lifeguards are on duty throughout summer.