Many of my out-of-town friends think I am crazy when I say that Chicago's beaches look like those in southern California. But when these friends do come visit and we go to, say, Chicago's North Avenue Beach with its sand volleyball, lakefront path full of walkers and rollerbladers, and outdoor bar, they get what I mean: You could easily mistake this Chicago beach for Manhattan Beach in California. And with Lake Michigan's large size, when you gaze out onto the lake, you don't see the other side, giving it the look and feel of the ocean.
Check out our Guide to Chicago Beaches and find out where the best sandy spots are in Chicago.
Tip: Going to the beach is a great way to spend the Fourth of July, especially because from North Avenue Beach you can see the July 4th fireworks at Navy Pier and not have to mess with the crowds at the pier. (View our story on July Fourth happenings in Chicago.)