4 Best Beaches Near Chicago For A Weekend Getaway

Life in the windy city can be tough if you long for sun, surf, and a great beach getaway. For locals, the chilly air, bustling atmosphere, and various dining, working, shopping, and nightlife make up for the lack of that beachy feel.

When the sand calls, there are plenty of places for Chicago natives to go when they must leave the city for a while.

Finding the right beach location that offers sun, sand, and fun at an affordable price with a beautiful view can be easy. 

Since the focus is leaving town, Chicago is in the heart of the United States. There are great beach getaways; it all depends on how far you want to travel.

What are the best beaches close to Chicago?

The best beaches that are within driving distance of Chicago are along the banks of Lake Michigan. Saugatuck, Indiana Dunes National Park, and St. Joseph all have excellent beaches and are within a few hour’s drive from Chicago.

For this list of best beaches near Chicago for a weekend getaway, we are focusing on near and not too far so vacationers can more time enjoying their getaway and less time traveling to it.

Saugatuck – Michigan

In under three hours, folks from Chicago can put their feet in the sand of this northern state and get busy having a great beach adventure.

On Lake Michigan, this beach spans ten miles for all the beach fun and adventure available. 

With a large artistic local scene, visitors can enjoy galleries, culture, and unique shopping options from local artists when they grow tired of the beach for the day.

This area also has many other outdoor activities that bring visitors closer to nature, adventure, and wildlife, like hiking and horseback riding.

Amazing culinary pleasures, boat tours, yoga, and golf, to name a few, round out the fun to be had while visiting this beach locale.

Indiana Dunes National Park – Porter

This national park is a hop, skip and jump from Chicago, making it a perfect spot for locals to roll out their beach towels and umbrellas and enjoy a weekend getaway from the city.

The park is home to numerous wildlife and offers many outdoor activities during the peak months, including hiking diverse terrain and bird watching, to name a few.

Its location hugs Lake Michigan and the sheer size of this national park at fifteen thousand acres will provide enough room for a weekend warrior to enjoy the beach, nature, and some adventures before returning home.

Visitors will not be disappointed with the weekend getaway destination unless they don’t like crowds, as peak season can bring many people from Chicago and other areas to this spot for the beach and nature.

The park offers a calendar of unique events and activities that change with the season but can include history, culture, and educational programs for the public. 

The dunes learning center and a bookstore offer a nice diversion for the little traveler who doesn’t want to play in the sand anymore.

New Buffalo – Michigan

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Slightly over an hour’s drive from Chicago, depending on where you are, you will find the sleepy beach town of New Buffalo.

The area is rich in history, culture, and art, with unique dining, shopping, and nightlife to entertain even the pickiest of travelers.

The atmosphere is small beach town life meets delightful lake locale, which makes this town so appealing. 

Beachgoers will enjoy that this location is very close but provides enough distance between them and the city that they can forget about all they have to do for a while.

With a beautiful wine trail to explore, shops selling hand-crafted items from local and regional artists and craftsmen, and luxury lodging, it will be the perfect weekend getaway from it all.

Antique enthusiasts will delight in the shops and finding that perfect treasure to take home when they are done with sunbathing for a while.

St. Josephs – Michigan

Another beautiful gem along Lake Michigan will entice visitors with rich orchards overflowing with crops of bountiful fruits and vineyards of the finest local wines this area has to offer. 

A beautiful lighthouse and exquisite views from Lake Bluff are just a few reasons this location is so remarkable.

St. Joseph’s dining and shopping downtown will let visitors explore the local offerings from craftsmen and artists of this area. 

There is much history to explore, and Chicago natives will enjoy the small-town feel as they let go of the hustle and bustle of Chicago life for a short time.

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How do I plan for a beach getaway outside Chicago?

The best way to plan for a beach getaway outside Chicago is to prepare as you would for any getaway. 

Begin with your budget, planning how much you wish to spend on lodging, dining, and extras. 

Then set a date and book necessary reservations like a hotel.

After that, figure out what activities you might want to do besides visit the beach.

Each of the above locations and other beach areas will have its own set of activities. 

Some of these may require a reservation; if so, booking them is important.

Gather information about where you are going, such as construction that is happening nearby, weather, peak times and dates, health concerns of that area, and other important information that can affect travel.

Finally, as you get near the travel dates, reviewing everything you have planned before you leave is important. 

Packing up a few days before is a good idea but not completely necessary as some people travel best when they pack at the last minute.

Finally, before you go, plan to carry spare cash with you and important documents, medication, and other vital things in your life. 

Having a good plan and executing it successfully for the weekend getaway can make a difference in how well you enjoy the time away.

Final Points

To be sure, Chicago is a beautiful city, and with various beaches, one would think there is never a reason to leave.

Taking a weekend getaway to the beach might seem unnecessary.

Still, it offers a mental and physical break from the stresses of daily life.

Having a break at the beach near Chicago is a great way to forget about your cares and worries for a time; after all, who can resist all that sun, sand, and water!