Near Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, Montrose beach offers a quiet respite in the heart of bustling Chicago. This beach truly has it all: food concessions, volleyball and kayak rentals, restrooms and showers. There’s also a boat launch, an ADA accessible beach walk, and a dog-friendly beach at the north end. Distance swimming is allowed, and there are rare migratory birds who flock here—along with droves of Chicagoans!
Montrose Beach History
Lincoln Park is one of Chicago’s largest and most historic parks. What many don’t know is that it is largely comprised of landfill. In 1934, the Chicago Park District was created from 22 separate park commissions. During that time, the city was flush from funding through Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, and the park district made many improvements. The Montrose to Foster landfill extension was one of them.
The extension plans included several buildings designed by architect E.V. Buchsbaum. One of said buildings was the beach house at Montrose Beach. It was modeled after the North Avenue beach house to look like a lake steamer. In the 1950s, part of the beach house burned down and was replaced with an open-air changing station. The historic beach house is still in existence today for use by Montrose beachgoers.
Montrose Beach Details
With pay and display lot parking as well as coveted street spaces, it’s easy to get to Montrose beach. Locals can also opt for a monthly parking pass. Or, get here via public transit off the Lawrence or Wilson stops from the CTA red line. You can also hop on the 78 Montrose, 81 Lawrence, or 151 Sheridan bus routes.
Once you’re here, there are plenty of amenities to spend the whole day. Enjoy food and beverage from Noel’s Tacos, Morelos Concession, JI Concession, The Dock, or Boucher Brothers. Along with eats, Boucher Brothers also offers up beach chair and umbrella rentals.
Not a beach bum? Stop by Jet Ski Chicago for water recreation rentals. There’s also Kayak Chicago for other paddle sport rentals. Then, access the Lake Michigan Water Trail from the Wilcon Avenue ramp at the south end of Montrose Beach. Kiteboarding is also permitted at Montrose beach, one of the few allowances in Chicago.
Lifeguards are on duty daily from 11am to 7pm. Distance swimming is allowed at tower four, north of boathouse, parallel to the shore. All are welcome at Montrose Beach. There’s an ADA accessible beach walk for wheelchairs and motorized scooters. Four-legged friends are welcome at the dog-friendly beach on the north end of Montrose Beach, as well.
South of the recreational beach, Montrose features a designated natural area that attracts many migratory bird species in the fall and spring seasons. The serene dune habitat here has a rare panne habitat home to endangered plant life. Currently, Piping Plover birds are nesting at Montrose Beach. Beachgoers will notice roped-off areas and are asked not to disturb the birds.
Beachgoers love this park for all there is to do, from beach volleyball to sailing lessons, as well as sunbathing and swimming, of course. Bathroom, changing and shower facilities are noted as clean and spacious. There’s also large grassy areas surrounding the park for picnicking and shade.
Montrose Beach Events
Montrose Beach hosts several day camps for local children during the summer, from mid-June to late August. Junior Lifeguards at Montrose Beach is a popular day camp for children between the ages of 8 and 16.