Category Archives: Illinois Beach Towns

Overview of Zion, IL

illinois beach state park

Located in the northwest corner of Illinois, Zion is the closest town to South Beach in the Illinois Beach State Park.


Illinois Beach State Park offers two beaches comprising 6.5 miles of shoreline along beautiful Lake Michigan and is the only beach ridge shoreline in Illinois. South Beach is located on the Zion side of the park and offers a picnic area, restrooms and ample parking.

Illinois Beach State Park


Visitors to Zion can choose to stay in the State Park at the campground or the Illinois Beach resort. The campground is located within in the southern unit of the park and boasts 241 sites with electricity and water hookups and shower facilities available. Reservations are recommended during the busy summer months.

The Illinois Beach Resort is also located on the south side of the park and has the distinction of being the only hotel in Illinois located right on a Lake Michigan beach. Guests can get their workouts in at the hotel’s fitness center, which houses a swimming pool and hot tub, exercise machines and fitness classes then pamper themselves with a massage at the spa. The hotel restaurant offers dining options like fried chicken and seafood alfredo, all served against the stunning view of Lake Michigan.

There are also several lodging options outside the park, like the Country Inn & Suites.

Illinois Beach State Park Campground

Illinois Beach Resort

Country Inn & Suites


Outdoor Activities
In addition to two beaches, Illinois Beach State Park offers a network of nature trails for hiking, biking and cross-country skiing in winter. The dune habitat is home to many species of birds, and birdwatchers can seek out uncommon birds like snowy owls and nighthawks. Fishing is permitted at the park’s inland ponds and outside of swimming areas at the beach.

Golfers can head over to the Shepherd’s Crook Golf Course for 18 holes on a championship course that winds among prairies grass and wet lands. After you leave the 18th hole, head over to the clubhouse to refresh yourself with food and drink.

Shepherd’s Crook Golf Course
351 North Green Bay Road
Zion, IL 60099
Phone: (847) 872-2080

Concert in the Park

On Thursday evenings from mid June to late July Zion hosts a concert series at the Zion Park District band shell, featuring musical acts ranging from oldies bands to a chamber orchestra.

2400 Dowie Memorial Drive, Zion.

Chicago Botanic Garden

Nearby Attractions
There are also loads of fun activities not too far away from Zion, like the Six Flags Great America theme park, the seemingly endless Gurney Mills Outlet Mall, the Great Lakes Naval Museum and the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Soccer in the Sand, Grand Haven, MI & Michigan City, IN

Photo by Victoria Pickering
Photo by Victoria Pickering

Each summer the Soccer in the Sand tournament takes place nationwide on beaches from San Diego, California to Rochester, New York, with stops in Chicago and at popular Lake Michigan beach towns Grand Haven, MI and Michigan City, IN.

Games in Grand Haven take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday and those in  Michigan City and Chicago take place over two days, Saturday and Sunday. The beach is divided into several soccer fields where teams made up of boys, girls and adults show off their skills to throngs of onlookers. Don’t be surprised if you spot players and spectators alike taking a dip in the cool Lake Michigan water in between matches.

Groups can sign up at the Soccer in the Sand website. There are 4 players and a goalie on the field per side, and event organizers recommend having 7 to 10 players per team. Players play barefoot or in socks, with special “sand soccer socks” available for purchase at the event.

The 2017 Soccer in the Sand tournaments on the lakeshore take place:

on June 23 – 25 in Grand Haven

on July 22 & 23 in Michigan City

on August 5 & 6 in Chicago

Chicago Hotels

Whether you’re looking for luxury or you’re on a budget, there’s a hotel for you in or around Chicago.

Sitting room off the Talbott lobby

My family’s go-to hotel in Chicago is The Talbott – when we can get a good deal. Great location, spacious rooms, tons of charm, superb staff – it even has a ladybug cow. It’s a winner.

Check out the links below for other Chicago hotel recommendations.

Tripadvisor: Chicago Hotels – I always check out the reviews on this site when I’m booking a hotel sight unseen. I find that if I read enough of them, I form a fairly accurate perception of a hotel’s pros and cons.

Travelpod: Chicago Hotels – This is another site with reviews by people who have stayed at hotels in the Chicago area.

Chicago Festivals and Events

Whether it’s devouring tasty tidbits at the Taste of Chicago Festival or watching the daring feats of stunt pilots from a lounge chair on Oak Street Beach at the Chicago Air and Water Show, Chicago offers an abundance of fun and varied activities to enjoy. Check out the following links to learn more about Chicago’s many festivals and events.

Chicago Seasonal Festivals – Visit this web page for a comprehensive list of Chicago’s summer festivals as well as detailed info about a few standouts.

Chicago Festivals – Offers descriptions of Chicago’s top festivals and events, as well as a monthly listing of other area festivals.

Chicago Reader – The Reader is a great resource for learning what’s going on around Chicagoland. Check out the agenda for the latest events in music, literature, arts & culture, film and dining.

City of Chicago: Chicago’s Festivals – The latest info on festivals citywide provided by the city government.


Chicago Dining

Chicago offers dining options from Italian tapas to half a dozen ways to prepare goat. Here are some favorite blogs with great suggestions for your Chicago dining experience.

Jeff Eats Chicago
Yeah, he does. Then he offers up his opinions on his blog, complete with descriptions of the atmosphere and, of course, the food. He even has his own rating system, 0-5 pearls. Reviews are broken down by neighborhood, type of food and pearl rating.

Rapp Eats
This blogger reviews and rates restaurants in his hometown of Chicago as well as locations farther afield. While he doesn’t seem to be as active lately, there’s a solid archive of reviews on this site.

Passport Delicious
This blogger writes with a fun voice as she eats her way through Chicago’s restaurants and delivers her verdict on each. Check out her Chicago recommendations on Passport Delicious.

Amtrak Chicago Style

I love this video. I think the point is that Michigan’s college kids can take Amtrak to Chicago for fun mini-breaks?

But I think it’s useful to note that Amtrak serves Lake Michigan Towns from Holland, MI to Michigan City, IN on to Chicago, IL and up to Milwaukee, WI.

So if you’re craving a beach vacation but don’t feel like driving, relax with a good book for a few hours and let Amtrak take you there.