Wow. It seems like all we ever do is go to the beach.
Last summer we didn't go very much. My two-year-old was not into sand or water AT ALL. She would curl her toes inside her shoes at the feeling of sand. Also, remember how much rain we had last summer? This summer, I decided, we WOULD take advantage of our proximity to so many awesome beaches. Fortunately, the now three-year-old is much more amenable to beach-time.
And yes, they really are beaches!
My sister-in-law (who is very lovely, by the way) is from South Carolina. She grew up in a town RIGHT on the ocean. Her town is so close to the ocean that we often see dolphins when we visit. Her home was once destroyed by a hurricane. I forget which one. Andrew I think? Anyway, she always expresses surprise and disbelief when I say the girls and I are going to the beach. I know she's thinking, "Chicago is thousands of miles from the ocean! What is she going to do? Put them in the car and drive for four days just to enjoy some sand and waves?"
Lake Michigan might not be the ocean but I did have a visitor ask me once as we were driving down Lake Shore Drive, "that's freshwater, right?" The water's fresh but you can't see the other side and sometimes there are honest-to-goodness waves. To me, that counts as a beach.
On the 10th day of summer vacation we joined some friends at Hartigan Beach.
Hartigan Beach is another one of those lovely Rogers Park beaches that's right off Sheridan Road, not too crowded, and has an adjacent playground. There aren't any changing rooms or bathrooms at Hartigan Beach but it's close enough to Sheridan Road that you can run back to a coffee shop in case of emergency. I'm sure they love that (ha!) Also, bring your own snacks or stop by Chipotle on the way there (or the way home) because there are no concessions at Hartigan Beach.
We rode bikes to Hartigan Beach but you could easily get there on the bus or walk from the Loyola Stop on the Red Line.
The high point of our day at Hartigan Beach was this guy:
I saw a seagull with something wriggling in his mouth. Honestly I thought it was a crab because I saw the pincers. Do we even have crabs in Lake Michigan? Shows you how ignorant I am of the fauna of my own large body of water. When I pointed out the struggle to my daughter she immediately ran to the seagull and chased him away, and he dropped the crayfish. We all had a good time observing him, taking turns feeling the exoskeleton, and sharing reminiscences of crawfish-trapping as children. Then we threw Lord Crawfish back in the lake to live another day.
The nice thing about having so many beaches so close to home is that you can just go for a few hours and then head home for a shower and a nap. When I DO drive hours to the sand and the shore, I feel like I have to stay all day to get my time's worth. Then we all end up cranky and sunburned.
Well, we still ended up a bit cranky and a little sunburned (I am finding that 18 SPF is just not enough for my fair-haired child but just right for my child with her grandmother's Native American complexion). Next time I bring 40 SPF.
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