South Shore Beach

South Shore Beach, an integral part of the South Shore Cultural Center, stands as the community’s most treasured gem. Adjacent to the beach lies a sprawling 65-acre park, complete with a 9-hole golf course, tennis courts, and a beach house equipped with modern restrooms and showers. Within the cultural center itself, visitors can experience an interior inspired by country clubs, featuring a refined dining hall, a sunlit solarium, the esteemed Paul Robeson Theater, the delightful Parrot Cage Restaurant, the esteemed Washburne Culinary Institute, and the renowned Dr. Margaret Burroughs gallery. Moreover, the beach offers its own natural sanctuary, an inviting boardwalk, and opportunities for long-distance swimming.

A Journey through South Shore Beach History

The origins of the South Shore Cultural Center trace back to 1905 when Lawrence Heyworth, the president of the downtown Chicago Athletic Club, envisioned constructing an exclusive club amidst a picturesque countryside. He brought his vision to life by establishing the South Shore Country Club on a pristine expanse of undeveloped land along the southern lakeshore. Initially, this property served as a haven for duck hunting and fishing, catering to the affluent members of the new, opulent club.

For this ambitious project, Heyworth sought the expertise of Marshall and Fox architects, renowned for their work on the illustrious Drake Hotel. To provide inspiration, Heyworth provided the architects with a photograph of an exquisite private club in Mexico City. The South Shore Country Club swiftly gained popularity and achieved social prominence, surpassing the capacity of its facilities in no time. Consequently, Marshall and Fox were once again commissioned to construct a new clubhouse in 1916, complete with an elegant ballroom.

South Shore flourished as a vibrant community for African Americans, even though the club explicitly excluded them. Unfortunately, the South Shore Country Club faced financial troubles and ultimately closed its doors in the 1970s. Recognizing the historical significance of the site, the Chicago Park District acquired the property in 1974, aiming to expand the lakefront facilities. The community rallied together to preserve this landmark building, which was subsequently restored and repurposed as a cultural center during the same era. Notable original features, such as the majestic front colonnade, entry gate, and stables, were lovingly maintained, paying homage to the club’s illustrious past.

Discovering South Shore Beach

South Shore Beach offers convenient access through its pay-and-display parking lot, allowing visitors to easily reach the destination by car. Additionally, public transit options include the 6 Jackson Park Express or 71 71st/South Shore bus routes, providing an alternative means of arrival. Once you have arrived, the park offers an array of amenities to ensure a fulfilling day at the beach.

Stroll along the accessible beach walk, designed to accommodate individuals with disabilities, and revel in the pleasure of long-distance swimming during the lifeguarded hours between 11 am and 7 pm. While paddle sports are not permitted, the surrounding park offers numerous recreational opportunities, including an expansive boardwalk.

Nature enthusiasts will be delighted to explore the beach’s nature sanctuary, easily accessible via a captivating boardwalk. This scenic route grants visitors breathtaking views of emerging sand dunes, a charming wetland, diverse wildlife, and a picturesque prairie landscape. Additionally, the South Shore Cultural Center houses modern restrooms and other convenient facilities.

Events at South Shore Beach

Throughout the year, the South Shore Cultural Center organizes various after-school programs, catering to a wide range of interests. During the summer season, it becomes a hub for an immensely popular six-week day camp, offering a plethora of engaging activities. In addition to these youth programs, the center hosts a myriad of enjoyable events throughout the year, including movie nights and festive celebrations. It’s not just children who can partake in the excitement, as the summer season brings forth the lively Senior Games, providing an opportunity for seniors to showcase their skills. Moreover, music enthusiasts can delight in the captivating performances by esteemed artists like the Chicago Philharmonic.

South Shore Beach Details

South Shore Beach
7059 S. South Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60649
Phone Number: 7732560149
Year Established: 1905
Architect: Marshall and Fox

Official Website:

South Shore Beach Amenities

Restrooms: Yes
WiFi Available: Yes
Dogs Allowed: No
Playgrounds: No
Accessible: Yes
Hours: 6:00am – 9:00pm

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