Surfing in Chicago: The Complete Guide

When you think of surfing destinations, Chicago may not be the first place that comes to mind. However, the Windy City has become a hot spot for surfing over the past few years, with a growing community of surfers and some fantastic surf spots to explore. With the beautiful Lake Michigan as its backdrop, Chicago offers a unique and exciting surfing experience for both beginners and experienced surfers.

In this complete guide to surfing in Chicago, we’ll explore the best surf spots, the ideal time to catch waves, the gear you’ll need, and other essential tips to help you make the most of your surfing adventure in the Windy City.

Best Surf Spots in Chicago:

  1. Montrose Beach: Montrose Beach is located on the North Side of Chicago, Montrose Beach is one of the most popular surf spots in the city. The beach offers consistent waves and is a great place for beginners to practice their skills. The waves at Montrose Beach are typically best during the fall and winter months.
  2. 57th Street Beach: 57th Street Beach is located on the South Side of Chicago, 57th Street Beach is another popular surf spot in the city. The beach offers consistent waves and is a great place for intermediate to advanced surfers. The waves at 57th Street Beach are typically best during the fall and winter months.
  3. Whiting Lakefront Park: Whiting Lakefront Park is located in the nearby town of Whiting, Indiana, Whiting Lakefront Park is a popular spot for surfers in the Chicago area. The beach offers consistent waves and is a great place for intermediate to advanced surfers. The waves at Whiting Lakefront Park are typically best during the fall and winter months.

Ideal Time for Surfing in Chicago:

The best time for surfing in Chicago is during the fall and winter months when the water is cooler, and the waves are more consistent. The summer months can also produce some great waves, but the water can be warmer and the waves are typically smaller.

Surfing Gear:

To enjoy surfing in Chicago, you’ll need the right gear. Here’s a list of essentials:

  1. Surfboard: Choose a board that matches your skill level and the conditions of the waves.
  2. Wetsuit: The water temperature in Chicago can vary, so it’s important to wear a wetsuit that keeps you warm and comfortable.
  3. Surf wax: Apply surf wax to your board to help you grip the board and prevent slipping.
  4. Leash: A leash keeps you connected to your board and prevents it from getting away from you in the water.
  5. Sunscreen: Protect your skin from the sun by wearing a high-quality sunscreen.

Tips for Surfing in Chicago:

  1. Check the weather conditions before heading out. The weather in Chicago can be unpredictable, so it’s important to stay informed.
  2. Respect other surfers and share the waves. Don’t hog the waves and give others a chance to catch them.
  3. Be aware of the water quality. The city of Chicago has made significant efforts to improve the water quality in Lake Michigan, but it’s still important to check for any advisories or warnings before heading out to surf.

Chicago Surf Culture:

Chicago’s surfing community is small but growing, and it’s worth exploring. Local surf shops like Third Coast Surf Shop and the Windward Boardshop offer a range of surfing equipment and apparel. You can also connect with other surfers through local surfing clubs like the Chicago Surfing Association.


Surfing in Chicago may not be as well-known as other surfing destinations, but it offers a unique and exciting experience for surfers of all levels. With a variety of surf spots along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, Chicago attracts surfers from all over the Midwest.

Remember to check the weather and water conditions, wear the appropriate gear, and follow the tips for surfing in Chicago to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Whether you’re catching waves at Montrose Beach or exploring the surf at Whiting Lakefront Park, surfing in Chicago is an adventure not to be missed.

Chicago’s rich surf culture and community offer a unique perspective on the sport, with a growing number of surfers and a supportive community. You can connect with other surfers, learn about the history of surfing in the city, and even participate in local events like the annual Great Lakes Surf Festival.

Overall, surfing in Chicago is a fantastic way to experience the city’s beautiful lakefront and become a part of a growing and exciting surf community. With dedication, practice, and the right gear, you can become a skilled surfer and explore the exciting surf spots along Lake Michigan’s shoreline. So grab your board, wax it up, and get ready to catch some waves in the Windy City!

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