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Lane Beach is five-star worthy. (Alexandra Silets / WTTW News)

For three months out of the year, Chicago’s every bit as much of a beach town as Los Angeles or Miami. As we kick off summer 2021, here are some things you might not know about the city’s sandy shore.

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(WTTW News)

The city’s lakefront beaches will officially open Friday for the first time since 2019, with lifeguards on duty and concessions returning. 

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A section of open beach is being added to the protected Montrose Dune Natural Area. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Conservationists are celebrating a big win for wildlife along Chicago’s lakefront, where the expansion of a “treasured” natural area will give more room to some high-profile occupants: a pair of endangered Great Lake piping plovers, Monty and Rose.

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A file photo of Montrose Beach in Chicago. (WTTW News)

Metered parking is already in place at lakefront destinations like Rainbow Beach, North Avenue Beach, 31st Street Beach, 63rd Street Beach and Foster Avenue Beach. Now it’s coming to Montrose Harbor — and some residents aren’t happy about it.

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Montrose Beach Dune Natural Area on the left, and the proposed section of Montrose Beach that would be incorporated into the protected area. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Chicago’s birding community is already preparing for the return of Monty and Rose, the piping plovers that captured national attention two summers ago when they made the surprising choice to nest on Chicago's lakefront. But will their favored habitat be secure in 2021?

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Volunteers are needed for daily beach cleanups through Sept. 26. (Courtesy of Shedd Aquarium)

It might not be the day of your Coppertone dreams, but you can get a little sand between your toes by signing up for one or all of this week’s volunteer beach and shoreline cleanups.

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Geoffrey Baer on a mysterious lakefront structure in this week's Ask Geoffrey. 

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Daily passes are no longer available for Evanston beaches. (Evanston Parks & Recreation / Facebook)

With Chicago’s beaches closed, Evanston has been a lakefront refuge for many city dwellers, but now even that option is becoming limited as summer nears its end.

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Beware of high waves on Lake Michigan near piers, jetties and other shoreline structures. (WTTW News)

The National Weather Service is warning people to steer clear of Lake Michigan due to high waves and strong currents. That doesn't just apply to beachgoers and swimmers. Shoreline structures can be dangerous too.

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Crowd gathered at Montrose Harbor. (Mayor Lori Lightfoot / Twitter)

A large crowd gathered over the weekend along the lakefront, prompting the city to install fencing at Montrose Beach — and the mayor to issue a stern message.

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(DesignOil / Pixabay)

As temperatures soar, you might be tempted to jump into Lake Michigan. But with Chicago beaches closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, water safety advocates say there’s an increased risk of drowning. 

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North Avenue Beach in 2018. (Frank Fujimoto / Flickr)

Chicagoans hoping to beat this week’s oppressive heat and humidity won’t be able to head to Chicago’s beaches to cool off “any time soon,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday.

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Joel Brammeier, president and CEO of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, talks about the area’s shrinking and disappearing beaches this year, and why it matters.

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(gezelle rivera / Flickr)

A new report raises some red flags about the potential health risks associated with swimming at local beaches.

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A piping plover on Waukegan Beach in 2018. (Ethan Ellis / Flickr)

The festival had been scheduled for Aug. 23-24 at Montrose Beach, where a pair of endangered piping plovers established a nest this spring. 

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A piping plover on Waukegan Beach in 2018. (Ethan Ellis / Flickr)

Organizers of Mamby on the Beach want to move the music festival to Montrose Beach, but conservationists are pushing back because of two endangered birds living at the site.