Chicago’s 22 beaches open for Memorial Day weekend of the 2023 summer season – NBC Chicago

Chicago’s nearly two dozen beaches officially open for the 2023 season at 11 a.m. Friday, but not without some changes.

“We are thrilled to once again welcome Chicagoans and tourists to Chicago’s 26 miles of pristine coastline, the backdrop to Chicago’s summer fun and home to 22 beautiful lakeside beaches,” said Rosa Escareño, general superintendent and CEO of the Chicago Park District, in a press release.

According to the park district, the 2023 beach season runs until Labor Day, which this year falls on Monday, September 4. And while access to Chicago’s 22 beaches is free, swimming is only permitted at certain times.

“During beach season, swimming is permitted in designated swimming areas on the beaches when lifeguards are on duty from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily,” the Chicago Park District said. “Swimming anywhere else along the lake is strictly prohibited and unsafe,” the park district states.

In addition, some additional safety measures are in place for the 2023 season.

Here’s a breakdown of what to know if you’re planning on going.

Safety on the beaches

“The safety of Chicago residents, visitors and our park staff is our number one priority,” Escareño said. “I am confident that the many beach protection and lifeguard training initiatives we have put in place will ensure that all beachgoers will enjoy a great experience this summer.”

According to the Park District, more than 30 new “beach safety ambassadors” will “help manage and provide guest safety and supervision at the Park District’s busiest beaches.” Officials say the duties of the new role include enforcing beach rules, assisting in emergency situations and more.

Additionally, in a public safety announcement Thursday, Mayor Brandon Johnson and the Chicago Police Department said beachgoers can expect to see more nearby patrols, as well as bag checks.

“It’s going to take all of us, not just the police, not just the city government, to ensure that our communities can live and thrive in peace and safety,” Johnson said at 63rd Street Beach as he was surrounded by department heads.

“However you decide to spend your vacation weekend in Chicago, your safety is my top priority,” he said.

According to the park district, these swimming conditions are updated each day around 11 a.m. “depending on weather and surf conditions, and around 1:30 p.m. depending on water quality conditions.”

Chicago Police Acting Superintendent. Fred Waller said Thursday his department has a “comprehensive safety plan” for the weekend that includes dispatching more officers to public transportation and commercial areas, as well as checking bags on the streets. beaches and Millennium Park.

Flag warning system

Chicago beaches follow a flag warning system to determine if it is safe to swim at each beach:

  • Green – Swimming is allowed. The weather conditions are good and the water quality is good.
  • YELLOW – Swimming is permitted, but caution is recommended. Weather conditions are unpredictable or bacteria levels are above the water quality criteria established by the EPA to advise the public.
  • Red – Swimming is not permitted. Weather conditions are hazardous or water quality conditions are hazardous.

You can check the daily status of each beach here or by calling (312) 74-BEACH. Signs with conditions are also displayed on each beach.

Chicago beaches will remain open through Labor Day weekend.

What is a safe water temperature for swimming?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, immersion in cold water can create a condition called “immersion hypothermia,” which can draw body heat up to 25 times faster than air.

Hypothermia can occur at some level in any water that is below 70 degrees, according to NIOSH.

According to the National Weather Service, “Water at 55 degrees may not seem very cold, but it can be deadly. Diving in cold water of any temperature becomes dangerous if you are not prepared for what sudden exposure can do to your body and brain.”

The National Centers for Environmental Information and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration state that “70 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit is the range where most people feel ‘comfortable’ swimming.”

How to Check the Current Water Temperature in Lake Michigan

Although it can be hot outside, the water can still be cold. Here’s how to check the current temperature and water conditions at Lake Michigan.

Beach Guidelines

According to the Chicago Park District, bathers are asked to adhere to the guidelines below:

  • Obey lifeguards and swim only when lifeguards are present.
  • No glass, alcohol or tobacco on the beach.
  • Permits are required for gatherings of 50 or more, use of amplified sound and concessions/vendors. More information on permits is available at
  • Properly dispose of food, diapers and other waste. Do not feed the birds.
  • Dogs are only allowed in dog areas.
  • Please put swim diapers on small children.
  • Grilling is only permitted in designated areas and embers must be discarded in the red-hot metal containers. For more information, visit
  • Keep accessible walks on the beach clear. No biking, skateboarding or in-line skating in these areas.
  • Access to the Lake Michigan Water Trail for sports such as kayaking, canoeing, and other non-motorized board or paddle sports is permitted at 12th Street Beach. For more information, go to the rules page and download the Lake Michigan Water Trails information.
  • Kitesurfing is not permitted at 12th Street Beach; kitesurfing is ONLY permitted at Montrose Beach.
  • Only Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices (PFDs) are permitted. Children wearing a PFD must be accompanied by an adult in the water.
  • Swimming is permitted and lifeguards are on duty at all beaches in 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.Unless Otherwise Posted.

A full list of Chicago beaches can be found here.

NBC Chicago

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