Located within Jackson Park, 57th Street Beach offers Hyde Park residents an opportunity to enjoy the lakefront. Although it is a historic beach, it offers all of the modern conveniences today, including an ADA accessible beach walk, restrooms and WiFi. There’s Tasty Grill serving up a Mexican menu and hot dogs for concessions, and distance swimming is allowed parallel to the shore from 55th Street south to pier.
57th Street Beach History
Famed designers of Central Park in New York Olmsted & Vaux laid out Jackson Park, Midway Plaisance, and Washington Park in Chicago in 1871. One of the earliest park improvements included a beach made from granite bricks at what is now 57th Street Beach.
A sand beach was created here as part of improvement plans for Jackson Park after the columbian Exposition World’s Fair. However at the time, Lake Michigan was still being used as a raw sewage dump, so the lake was not considered fit for swimming. Residents did love the beach for strolling and promenading.
Thankfully, the Drainage Canal was complete in 1899, and the lakefront soon became a hotspot for public bathing. Ever since the turn of the century, the 57th Street Beach has been beloved by Chicagoans. In 1933, the Chicago Park District constructed a new beach house for visitors, where they can also enjoy a view of the city skyline.
57th Street Beach Details
Get up early if you’re driving to 57th Street Beach, as there’s limited street parking nearby, west of Lake Shore Drive. Or, take public transit on one of many CTA bus routes. Never fear, once you’re here you can post up for the whole day.
Swimming is allowed during lifeguarded hours daily from 11am to 7pm. Distance swimming is permitted parallel to the shore. At the north end of the beach, find access to the Lake Michigan Water trail for kayaking, canoeing, and other non-motorized board or paddle sports.
For lunch, Tasty Grill is open and serves up a Mexican menu as well as hot dogs and cold beverages. Debbie Evans also offers concessions on the beach.
For more facilities, wander through the surrounding Jackson Park. The expansive park spans more than 550 acres. It is home to a gymnasium, multi-purpose rooms, and a fitness center. There’s also a Japanese-style Garden of the Phoenix, a vegetable garden, and a flower garden. Outside, the park has the beach, basketball and tennis courts, sporting fields, a track, a golf course with driving range and a turf field.
There are also several ADA-accessible playgrounds, a fishing area, and many trails and walks along Bobolink Meadow. Jackson Sandbox is another fun place to play. The Museum of Science and Industry is also located in Jackson Park.
An array of public artwork is dotted throughout. Look for sculptures including Decades, Fishing Eagle, Sky Landing, A Remembrance, and Progress. The 57th Street Underpass, which leads to 57th Street Beach, features a mural by artist Mirtes Zwierzynski, who collaborated with high school students in Hyde Park to create a series of mosaics.
57th Street Beach Events
Jackson Park hosts Park Kids seasonal sports, tennis lessons and arts and crafts programs. There are also after-school programs offered hear year-round. In the summer, youth enjoy the district’s popular six-week day camps.
Along with programs for youth, Jackson Park hosts family events throughout the year, like nights out in the park, movies in the park and holiday-themed celebrations.