While it’s been one of the strangest springs of a lifetime for many, summer has arrived for North Shore residents looking for a day out at the beach. With some new guidelines in place to protect the health of beachgoers, park districts want residents to know they are open for business.
As scheduled, Gillson Beach in Wilmette opened on May 23 to beach season pass holders, with parking available for Season Parking Decal Holders. Season passes for one of the Chicago lakefront’s most popular beaches can be purchased online and picked up in person 48 hours after purchase.
The Wilmette Park District expects to open up access to water and swimming as the third phase of Illinois Governor J.B Pritzker’s 5 Phase Plan commences on May 29. The park district says it expects patrons to practice social distancing and that same-household groups will be limited to 10 individuals or less. Park district staff will be monitoring the beach to ensure social distancing guidelines are followed.
The park district advises those heading to Gillson Beach to bring water bottles as water fountains will be closed, and that sailboat rentals will not be available through the duration of the 2020 season.
For more information on Gillson Beach, visit wilmettepark.org/district-calendar/events/gillson-beachopening.
In Lake Forest, Forest Park Beach also opened on May 23. Lake Forest residents can enter the beach at the north entrance as the south entrance remains closed. Visitors must have an ID that shows proof of residence in Lake Forest.
The beach is also open to nonresidents, who can enter at the north entrance through a nonresident kiosk. There’s a $25 per person fee that is nonrefundable and can be paid by debit or credit card only.
Lake Forest Parks and Recreation staff will be on-hand to facilitate proper social distancing. Staff will be wearing appropriate personal protection equipment and beachgoers are encouraged to have a mask on-hand for entering areas of the beach, such as bathrooms, where people could be congregated.
Parking is available in the Upper South Lot for patrons displaying a City of Lake Forest or Beach Parking Sticker. The Lower South Lot is open for those displaying a South Beach Parking Permit or those with a watercraft launch or watercraft storage permit.
There’s good news for boaters, too. With some precautions, the Watercraft Ramp Launch in the South Beach Lot is open for those seeking open water. 2020 South Beach Parking and Watercraft Launch permits are required. Contact the Sailing Office at 847-810-3664 for information about purchasing permits while the Recreation Center office remains closed. Staff are not permitted at this time to touch private boats or property so boaters are encouraged to bring along whatever assistance they might need in order to get their crafts in the water.
For more information about Forest Park Beach, visit lfparksandrec. com/forest-parkbeach.
While the guarded beach at Highland Park’s Rosewood Beach is closed for the season, the recreation beach opened over the Memorial Day weekend with Covid-19 safety guidelines in place. Washrooms and water fountains are closed and social distancing is required. The Park District of Highland Park expects to allow expanded activities at the beach for groups of up to ten when Phase 3 of Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan begins on May 29.
The Park Avenue Boating Facility remains closed and the Park Avenue Barge remains closed to the public. Parks remain open under similar conditions as Rosewood Beach as are the outdoor tennis and pickleball courts. The district says it is regularly monitoring events as the Governor’s plan moves forward and will keep residents up-to-date with announcements on its website.
For more information about Rosewood Beach and other Highland Park beaches, visit pdhp.org/beaches/.
Glencoe Beach is now open for season pass holders only. Due to Covid-19 safety precautions, the passes have sold out and the Glencoe Park District has established a waiting list in anticipation of safety restrictions being eased.
The Glencoe Beach is open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and to walkers only from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. The beach house is open for bathrooms only; and rentals, including beach chairs and umbrellas, are closed for the season. Paddle board and kayak rentals may become available as safety restrictions are eased. There is currently no swimming allowed or access to the playground or spraypad, but those restrictions could be lifted in the coming weeks.
For more information about Glencoe Beach, visit glencoeparkdistrict.com/facilities/glencoe-beach.
Nature has negatively impacted Winnetka’s beaches even before the Covid-19 pandemic, and due to erosion Elder Lane Beach and Lloyd Beach are closed for the 2020 season. According to the Winnetka Park District’s website, Maple Street Beach and Tower Road Beach will open on June 20 or sooner pending progression to Phase 3 of Restore Illinois.
For updates on Winnetka’s beaches, visit winpark.org/covid19/.
Lake Bluff’s Sunset Park and Beach remains open for walking and running as long as social distance guidelines are followed. There is no swimming allowed but subject to the rollout of the additional phases of Restore Illinois. Access to the beach is free to Lake Bluff residents. Resident Beach passes can be obtained with a state-issued photo ID or driver’s license.
Sunset Park and Beach is open to nonresidents for a daily fee.
For more information on Lake Bluff Beach, visit lakebluffparks.org.
Opportunities to get out and enjoy the summer weather are available all up and down Chicago’s north shoreline. Stay safe and have fun!