31st Street Beach
This beach offers visitors incredible views of the Chicago skyline from the south. Beach goers can find concessions and restrooms at the beach house.
A new harbor with 1,000 floating slips for 35-70-foot-long boats sits adjacent to the beach. The harbor also has space for boats up to 200 feet. In the nearby park, patrons can find an ADA-accessible playground, along with a “green roof” picnic area above an indoor parking garage that also functions as a winter boat storage area. A public fishing dock, community room, harbor store and offices are all available at this location.
A unique public art display made of 18 mature, defoliated trees, where the bark was removed and then painted in vibrant hues, permanently installed at the new harbor building adds a sense of fun to the beach area and draws many visitors.
Pay & display parking lot
The Harbor Classroom
near 31st Street Beach
Sat., June 15 - Labor Day, Sept. 2 during park hours 6 a.m. - 11 p.m.
School is in this summer at “The Harbor Classroom,” an interactive installation of desks promoting awareness of Chicago’s lakefront and harbor ecosystems through reading and contemplation. This “classroom” is open to the public and is comprised of 28 desks salvaged from the 1970s anchored on the lawn. Books and resource materials will be attached to the desk drawers. The public is invited to drop in at the site and flip through a variety of materials that address such themes as water quality, LEED construction, biology, boating tips, birds, insects, weather, recycling, green applications, natural history, and more.
Beach house and restrooms
- Life guard first aid station
A new playground opened at 31st Street Beach in 2012, located just south of the beach house.
Food and beverage
10 AM - 10 PM
Please follow the rules while you’re at the beach:
- Swim only when lifeguards are on duty.
- Follow lifeguards’ instructions.
- Only Coast Guard approved flotation devices are permitted.
- No smoking.
- No alcohol.
- No dogs on the beach.
- Do not feed birds or wildlife.
- Dispose of trash and recycling in appropriate containers.
- Grill in designated areas only and dispose of coals in red barrels.
- Keep accessible beach walks clear. No bicycling, skateboarding or rollerblading is permitted 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 allowed at the south end of 31st Street Beach. For more information, go to the rules page and download information on Lake Michigan water trails.
- Kiteboarding is not permitted at 31st Street Beach; kiteboarding is ONLY permitted at Montrose Beach.
The 31st Street Beach is located in Burnham Park, a green space first envisioned by renowned architect Daniel Burnham in his seminal 1909 Plan of Chicago. Burnham’s ambitious plan to create a ribbon of lakefront parkland took many years to realize.
At that time, Chicago only had four municipal beaches. These beaches were far from the South Side, so residents began using a sandy strip of land between 25th and 29th streets as a bathing beach. In 1920, voters approved $20 million to build the lakefront park. Seven years later, the South Park Commission named this green space made of landfill in honor of Burnham.
Burnham Park served as the site for Chicago’s second World’s Fair, “A Century of Progress,” between 1933 and 1934. After the fair, the newly consolidated Chicago Park District made additional plans for Burnham Park that echoed Burnham’s original vision for the space. With federal funding through the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Park District began improvements in the mid-1930s, including additional landfill, playfields, walkways, tennis courts, basketball courts and the 31st Street Beach and beach house.
A 1997 initiative called for the replacement of outdated structures on the lakefront, so the modern beach house replaced the original structure. The Army Corps of Engineers began to reconstruct the shoreline revetments (sloped structures lining the bank to prevent erosion) in Burnham Park from 26th Street to 56th Street, allowing for the expansion of 31st Street Beach into a much larger beach.
31st Street Beach has an accessible beach walk, restrooms and parking.