It’s Beach and Boating Season: What To Know Before You Hit the Water

(WTTW News)(WTTW News)

Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the start of Chicago’s summer beach and boating season. Here’s what to know before you hit the sand and water.

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Chicago beaches

Open: May 27 through Sept. 5. The inland beach at Humboldt Park is expected to open in late June.

Swimming: Lake Michigan’s water temperature is currently hovering slightly above 50 degrees. For those willing to brave a bracing dip, swimming is only allowed when lifeguards are on duty, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Juneway, Rogers, Howard and Fargo beaches are closed for swimming this season due to erosion.  

Water safety

Status alerts: Color-coded flags indicate whether conditions and water quality are safe for swimming. A green flag means swimming is permitted; red means no swimming, either because of dangerous weather or poor water quality. A yellow flag means swimming is permitted but caution is advised, either because the weather is unpredictable or there are high levels of bacteria in the water. The Park District posts the current status of every beach online.  

Check the buoy: For a look at real-time conditions on Lake Michigan, visit the webcam feed provided by Chuoy the Buoy, situated off Navy Pier. The buoy also logs up-to-the-minute information on wave height, wind speed, water temperature and more.

Be prepared: The Park District is holding free water safety trainings at various beaches June 1, 8, 15 and 22, at 5:30 p.m. (click here for locations). Life rings have been installed along the lakefront and signage has been updated in areas where swimming is not allowed.

Recreation rules

— Dogs are only allowed in designated dog areas.

— Grilling is only permitted in designated areas. Dispose of coals in provided metal containers.

— Kiteboarding is only permitted at Montrose Beach. 

— Paddlers on the lake should wear a bright-colored and reflective life jacket and clothing. Never assume a larger vessel can see you. 

Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 |  [email protected]

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