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Visit Lake Michigan Chicago

Book A Guided Walking Tour

Even if you visit Chicago in the depth of winter, you need to walk to the shore and visit Lake Michigan Chicago. Our Michigan Ave Tour ends on the Navy Pier along the lake for a majestic view and the weekly fireworks in summer.

"Lake" is a misnomer, because Michigan is really a vast inland sea. Approximately 307 miles from north to south and 118 miles wide for most of its height, it is the fifth largest lake in the world, with a surface area nearly the size of West Virginia! But equally astounding is its depth: average of 279 feet, and a maximum of 923 feet -almost as deep as the John Hancock building is tall! A drop of water entering the Lake hangs out almost 100 years before making its way on into Lake Huron.Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 11.26.48

Looking so much like the ocean, Lake Michigan can fool you! Many first-time visitors need a reminder that the water is fresh, not salty! Swimming in the Lake is delightful. Oak Street, Montrose, Ohio Street and Hollywood Avenue sand beaches are the most popular, and they're free! The beaches are open May to September, with lifeguards on duty 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Chicago boasts a lakefront trail perfect for biking, running, skate-boarding. Beautiful views of the skyline, and gardens planted with prairie grasses and flowers are featured. Lakefront Trail, which runs paved for 18 miles from Hollywood Avenue on the North Side to 71st Street on the South Side, offers parks, beaches, gardens and statues. Our favorite way to take Lakefront Trail is on foot, obviously, but to cover more distance, take Divvy Bikes. Divvy is the bike-sharing system with convenient racks throughout the city. You can get a 24 hour pass with a code to unlock bike when you need it. You get unlimited 30 minute rides through the 24 hours. Pick a bike up anywhere and drop if off at any station along the Trail - or in the city if you can brave the streets!

Chicago takes its drinking water from the Lake. For an interesting visit, stop into the Chicago Avenue Water Works, to see five electric pumps each capable of putting out 50 million gallons of water per day! If you're staying in a downtown hotel, you water almost certainly moved through one of those pumps!

So don't miss the Lakefront. It will leave an impression that will last a long time.

About The Author

Canden Arciniega

Canden is a historian and tour guide in Washington DC with 4 published books about the city. She has written for HuffPost Travel and has been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. She's also been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. Canden is the producer of our podcast, Tour Guide Tell All With a M.A. in History from University College London and a B.A. in History from Elon University, she is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city for over 10 years. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has travelled to 28 countries. Her two children (both under the age of 4) have their passports and own frequent flier accounts.
Updated: September 26th, 2021
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