Day Trip to Fort Sheridan Beach from Chicago

I am not getting hit with a volleyball again today. I grew up near the coast of North Carolina. Every summer, my mom, sister, and I would pack a cooler and head to Sunset Beach for a day of tanning, walking along the shore, and diving into the salty waves. In my memory, the bliss of endless summers always connects with the beach. Since moving, I miss that feeling. Chicago is unique for having a beach in the middle of the city, but it’s not the same.

On quiet days, North Avenue Beach is a spot where I like to sit and listen to the waves. During the warmer months, North Avenue Beach erupts with busy Chicagoans, and the chaos is overwhelming. The last time I went to North Avenue Beach, my boyfriend and I parked our blanket far away from crowds. Within a few minutes, a family starts playing volleyball near us in a circle. After getting hit three times in a row, we politely moved to another empty location. I am not one to make a fuss, but the family didn’t seem apologetic after hitting me several times.

Another group moved in soccer players this time- a similar thing happened. One ball hit me directly in the chest. At this point, I am annoyed. That’s when we decided to pack up and move beaches. I am searching for a peaceful and quiet day at the beach, just like I used to have. I am not getting hit with a volleyball again today.

Taking a day trip from Chicago to Fort Sheridan Beach, Illinois, is my new favorite way to spend a Sunday. It’s one of the best of the beaches near Chicago. I want a low-key and relaxing—a place to get away and relax like the beach used to make me feel.If you are looking for things to do just outside of Chicago here is one beach you cannot miss.

Address: 10 Cliff Rd, Highland Park, IL 60035

beaches near Chicago, Fort Sheridan Beach

Just an hour outside of Chicago is the beach I am looking for. Fort Sheridan Beach, Illinois, is located in a community that used to be a military base, but now it offers free public space to Lake Michigan. All the homes have the same light brick exterior, with a tower in the middle. Although many of the houses look similar, they have a unique feature most homes don’t… a watch tower.

Newport Coffee Shop

I start the day with sunscreen and caffeine. Here are a few sunscreen products I recommend.2023 Best Sunscreen Products for the Summer On the way, I find a local coffee shop, Newport Coffee House, and order a cardamom and date latte with a blueberry scone. Cardamom is a spice from a seed pod. I typically use it when making chai, so I knew it would smell divine. It is precisely what I needed to kick off the morning of a beach day. I eat the scone and sip on my latte the remainder of the drive to the beach.

Newport Coffee House

Fort Sheridan Old Military Base History 

Although I enjoy Fort Sheridan Beach for the warm sunshine and waves, the area is rich in history, too. Fort Sheridan was a Military Base for many years, but the base became inactive in 1993. They have an old military tank on display as well as pictures from when the military used to use Fort Sheridan Beach for training.

Where to Park at Fort Sheridan Illinois

We pull into the parking lot at Fort Sheridan Beach. Full. Circling around, no parking is available. No one is leaving there parking spot anytime soon, so we find street parking in one of the neighborhoods. It’s a short walk from our car to the beach. Pay attention to where the signs mark there is parking available.

Although the parking lot was full, the beach didn’t feel crowded. There are hiking trails nearby, and the parking lot is full. 

Fort Sheridan Beach

The Beach 

Although it is in the backyard of some of the residents Fort Sheridan Beach offers free public access. The beach has large rocks and loud, large waves. The waves are strong today, a bit too strong for swimming, but the calm secluded feeling is precisely what I am hoping for. I found a spot. It’s high tide, so there is little beach available today. There is one family to my right, but the rest of the beach is mine.

 Here are a few beauty products I pack for the beach.

No Swimming at Fort Sheridan Beach Illinois

Today, I can’t get in the water. The waves are too strong for swimming. There are no lifeguards, but a sign before the beach entrance warns visitors NOT to get in the water. Even though I can’t go swimming, it’s the ideal place for a picnic, laying out, or fishing. Although you can stroll the shore, the area is in a residential neighborhood, so they want visitors to avoid swimming.  

Popcorn & Lunch at Nortons 

After soaking up the sun, I am hungry. Downtown Highland Park has several restaurants, one of which is Nortons. They offer American food and drinks, while outdoor and indoor seating. In attempts to cool off we choose the indoor seating.

The waiter immediately brings us a bowl of popcorn for the table. I know that bring popcorn to the table is typical for bars, but I haven’t see it often at restaurants. The popcorn reminds me of summer camp. I was a camp counselor during my summers in college. The popcorn at canteen is made in a large popcorn maker. It’s buttery, salty, and has the perfect crunch. The popcorn at Nortons tastes exactly like the camp popcorn, bringing back a ton of memories for me.

Speaking of memories, the interior of Nortons has floor-to-ceiling decor. I order a turkey sandwich with sweet potato fries. When they brought out the sandwich, I did not realize they would include the whole bird. I couldn’t fit the sandwich in my mouth. There is so much turkey. Along with the sweet crunch of the fries, this is an ideal meal after a hot day at the beach.

The shorelines of Fort Sheridan Beach, Illinois, are one of my favorite escapes from the city’s crowds. Today, I just relaxed by the shore and enjoyed the peaceful sounds of the waves.

Happy Travels,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.