Chicago borders the long and winding Lake Michigan, and thanks to careful planning by early city free space advocates, there are preserved beaches along the shoreline unmarred by massive overdevelopment. Visitors seeking a pleasant place to dip their toes in the lake may prefer North Avenue Beach, 63rd Street Beach, or the large Rainbow Beach Park for recreation. Naturally, those who wish to visit the beach may wish to overnight with a lake view and beach access. However, thanks to the protective design of Lake Shore Drive, developers have been denied the kind of immediate and direct shore access enjoyed by coastal hoteliers. Still, there are many quality hotels within a reasonable summer’s day walk from these beaches.
One of the oldest and most storied of Chicago’s hotels is The Drake, a Hilton Hotel. This magnificent four-star hotel built in 1920 is an easy stroll to the Oak Street Beach and is located near East Lake Shore Drive. Also near the same beach are the historic Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel, the Raffaello Hotel, and The Westin Michigan Avenue Chicago. The Millennium Knickerbocker, another four-star, quality destination, opened its doors in 1927 and was briefly the Playboy Towers in the 1970s. With a Crystal Ballroom and ample meeting space, you can enjoy the fare offered up in-house NiX restaurant, attend business gatherings, enjoy a tasty drink at the Martini Bar, or head over to the beach beckoning nearby.
Hotel Lincoln, one of the establishments closest to the popular North Avenue Beach, resides near Lincoln Park and provides terrific views of the lake. With business and fitness centers, high speed Wi-Fi, and further amenities available for a modest fee, guests can check out the neighborhood or try casual dining, volleyball courts, and stores down the block at the beach.
If you’re looking for something a little more affordable, further south down the shore are the neighboring Chicago Lake Shore Hotel and La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Chicago – Lake Shore. Both overlook South Lake Shore Drive and offer immediate vistas of the lake. It’s only a short drive north from those inns to Oakwood 41st Street Beach, but if you want to swim, the Chicago Lake Shore Hotel offers an outdoor pool during the right season. La Quinta offers a free morning breakfast and parking in both lots is free, as compared to most of the offerings downtown.