Lake County is home to 200 lakes, more than any other county in Illinois. Our beautiful beaches provide ample spaces for exercise, relaxation, and family activities while following social distancing guidelines. Read on to learn about the top six Lake County Beaches that make it easy to enjoy the outdoors while social distancing.
Three Oaks Recreation Area
Three Oaks is the only beach on this list that is entirely man-made. Former quarries have been reclaimed and turned into beautiful small lakes and natural spaces. The swim beach is the perfect place to soak up some sun, and your little ones will love the playground and splash pad. Daily rentals for rowboats, canoes, kayaks, sailboats, and paddleboats are available, so you can get out on the water. Three Oaks Recreation Area is also the only place on the list that offers scuba diving, but you do need to have an active scuba certification.
If you prefer to stay dry, Three Oaks also has two sandy trails that are great for walks, runs, or bike rides. Picnic areas are plentiful and allow you to enjoy a family meal while viewing the water. Three Oaks Recreation Area is in Crystal Lake, with access via the Northwest Highway. Parking is free for Crystal Lake residents, but non-residents must pay a $5 parking fee. Three Oaks is open daily from 6:30 a.m. to sunset.
Waukegan Municipal Beach
Image via Flickr by Curtis Abert
Waukegan Municipal Beach is popular with locals thanks to its 400 acres of lakefront. The 1-mile beach is home to many natural dunes and boasts the cleanest water in Lake County. Waukegan is a great place to swim, sunbathe, and picnic. If you take a beach stroll, be sure to check out the small lighthouse at the water’s edge. Other popular activities at Waukegan include fishing, boating, and kiteboarding.
Access to Waukegan Municipal Beach is via Sea Horse Drive. The beach is open daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m, and beach access is free to Waukegan residents.
Illinois Beach State Park
Image via Flickr by hannibal1107
The Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park, or Illinois Beach State Park for short, boasts the last beach ridge shoreline in the state of Illinois. The park is home to a wide variety of natural features, including marshes, dunes, oak forests, and native wildlife. The park’s 6 miles of beaches provide spaces for sunbathing and swimming with lots of free parking.
This 4,160-acre park has a North Unit and a South Unit. Picnic areas are plentiful in both units; if you have a large group of 25-60, you must have a permit to avoid overcrowding. A campground in the South Unit allows for overnight stays. If fishing is your thing, both the North and South Units have great fishing spots, with a disabled fishing pier available on Sand Pond. The North Point Marina boasts 1,500 slips and a boat launch.
If you’re in the mood for a walk, the South Unit is home to 5 miles of hiking trails, and the North Unit has a 1.8-mile loop that serves as a nature walk in the summer and a cross-country skiing path in the winter. Bicycling enthusiasts should check out the Zion Bike Trail that runs lakeside between the park’s two units, providing beautiful lakefront views while riding.
Illinois Beach State Park lies on the shore of Lake Michigan from the Wisconsin border to Waukegan in the city of Zion. The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Beaches are currently closed on the weekends.
Forest Park Beach
Forest Park Beach is on North Lake Road in Lake Forest. With over 29 acres of natural spaces, Forest Park Beach is a great place to spend the day with friends and family. In addition to swimming, you can lounge on Forest Park’s extensive beach and grassy areas. For an opportunity to explore the park and get beautiful views of the lake, take a stroll on one of the many walking trails. The park also has both motorized and non-motorized boat launches. Kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards are also welcome on the water.
Access to Forest Park Beach is free for residents of Lake Forest; the non-resident fee is $25 per person. Although there is no beachfront parking, you can park in the nearby business district or train station and take a short walk to the beach.
Rosewood Beach has three coves: a swimming cove, a recreational cove, and a nature cove. The swimming cove is the perfect area to swim a few laps or relax on the beach, while the recreational cove has beach volleyball and play areas. Rosewood’s extensive boardwalk provides ample space for a long, relaxing walk with beautiful beach views. Stop in the Interpretive Center to take in more of the beach and learn more about local conservation efforts.
Rosewood Beach is in Highland Park on Sheridan Road and is open daily from dawn to dusk. Access to the beach is free for residents, though non-residents must pay an hourly fee.
Openlands Lakeshore Preserve
Designated as an Illinois Nature Preserve in 2013, the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve is a rare and beautiful gem in Lake County. Openlands is home to steep bluffs, wooded ravines, and approximately a mile of beaches. The entire preserve is undeveloped (other than access steps), offering an authentic natural experience. Its undeveloped status makes Openlands a birdwatcher’s paradise. Lots of local birds make their home here, and many migrating birds stop here to rest along their journey. Lakeside walkways run throughout the preserve, providing spaces for walking, jogging, or biking.
Openlands Lakeshore Preserve is in Highland Park with access points at Patten Road, Walker Street, and Lyster Street. The Preserve is open from sunrise to sunset.
Whether you are looking for a cool dip, a hot fishing spot, or a relaxing walk in nature, the beaches in Lake County have something for you.
If we missed a favorite beach of yours, contact us at Overhead Garage Door and let us know. We look forward to hearing from you!