In the heart of downtown, Ohio Street Beach is tucked in the Streeterville neighborhood next to Jane Addams Memorial Park and the Jardine Water Filtration Plant. It offers access to the Lakefront Trail which winds past the beach. Unlike most Chicago Beaches that face East, Ohio Street Beach is oriented to the North. This makes it an ideal training site for open-water swimming. There are restrooms, locker/changing facilities, concessions and umbrella and chair rentals.
Ohio Street Beach History
Originally called Lake Park, Lincoln Park began from 60 acres of unburied public cemetery land. In the 1870s, lakefront landowners asked the Lincoln Park Commission to extend Lake Shore Drive south from Oak Street to Ohio Street. Thanks to extensive landfill extension in the 1890s, they got their wish, and a small, temporary beach was created at Ohio Street.
After the turn of the century, the neighboring Oak Street Beach was becoming quite the hot spot. To prevent overcrowding, the city created a permanent sand beach at Ohio Street. In the 1930s, the Lincoln Park Commission became part of the Chicago Park District. Improvements were made to the promenade that stretched between Oak Street and Ohio Street. In 1958, Ohio Street Beach was temporarily closed for constructed. In 1965, Milton Olive Park was opened stretching 10 acres and boasting the adjacent Ohio Street Beach.
Ohio Street Beach Details
Due to the crowded neighborhood surrounding Ohio Street Beach, there is limited street parking available. Visitors can take the Red Line to Grand Street or access the beach by such bus routes as 29 State, 65 Grand, 66 Chicago, and 124 Navy Pier.
Once you’re here, it’s easy to post up for the entire day. The beach boasts an ADA accessible beachwalk to the shoreline. This is also one of the preferred places in the city to swim. Lifeguards are on duty from 11am to 7pm daily. Boucher Brothers is located at the beach for quality umbrella and chair rentals.
Distance swimming is allowed and encouraged here. Due to the beach’s irregular orientation, you can swim north a half mile to the Oak Street curve without ever being more than a few feet from shallow waters and the seawall.
Additionally, Jane Addams Memorial Park neighboring Ohio Street Beach offers plenty of green space and shade to relax, have a picnic, or throw a frisbee. There’s no paddle board or sport access to the Michigan Water Trail from Ohio Street Beach. Instead, stay landside and travel the Lakefront Trail.
There are locker rooms, restroom facilities, and concessions available. Caffe Olivia is a popular place to stop for food and beverage. Ohio Street Beach is also home to “House,” a public art installation made from aluminum poles and rip cord nylon by Sara FitzSimonds.
Ohio Street Beach Events
Due to its favorable conditions, there are many swimming events held at Ohio Street Beach. There’s an Open Water Fun Swim and the CPD Open Water Series Swim Meet. Events span competition to just fun for the family.