Surf's up in Chicago

July 27, 2009 Where can you surf in Chicago?

Only two beaches are open to surfing in Chicago during the summer months (Memorial Day to Labor Day): Montrose Ave. Beach and 57th St. Beach.

However, off-season surfers are authorized to to use Osterman, Montrose, 57th Street and Rainbow Beach

When are the best weather conditions for surfing Lake Michigan?

Because Chicago is east-facing with prevailing winds, the waves are small in the summer, which makes it the perfect time to learn to surf. The big waves and prime surfing time in Chicago is fall, winter and spring.

Tips for surfing on fresh water

  • The sheer size of the Great Lakes is what makes surfing on them possible.
  • Containing six quadrillion gallons of water and more than 10,900 miles of shoreline, the Great Lakes are the largest fresh water system on earth and have more coastline than the East and West coasts combined.
  • While ocean waves are created by distant storm systems, waves on the Great Lakes are formed by localized winds.
  • Thanks to ongoing improvements in wetsuit technology, surfers are now able to comfortably ride lake waves year-round, including in winter.
  • It takes time and perseverance to find good surf in the Great Lakes, but when you do, it makes it all worthwhile.
  • Resources:

  • Chicago Park District ( Chicago Park District)
  • Third Coast Surf Shop, New Buffalo, Michigan (
  • Vince Deur Productions (
  • State of Michigan Web site:
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