A Review of Rogers Park Beaches

Chicago's Beaches Rogers Park

When I was in kindergarten, there was a talent show at my elementary school. The older students sang, played musical instruments, and tap-danced, and even as a kindergartner, I remember thinking “Wow, these people really aren’t that good.” But how could anybody criticize them? They were just kids, passionately performing some art-form that they were only recently introduced to. So even though, judging by the unimpressed expressions of my fellow 5-year-olds, there was a consensus that this was the least-talented talent show ever, we gently applauded each performer and never (until now) acknowledged their incompetence.

Criticizing the beaches of North Rogers Park feels a little bit like criticizing those talentless elementary students. There’s really not much to praise, but it seems unfairly harsh to compare these tiny neighborhood shores to the more developed beaches to the south. But we’re gonna do it anyway.

The northernmost beach in Chicago is Juneway Terrace, right at the curve on Sheridan Road where Chicago becomes Evanston. And this beach was…nice? Like, there were pretty views of lakeside condos? Both Juneway Terrace Beach and Rogers Avenue Beach, which are only separated by about three condo buildings, are rocky beaches. Katie, ever the optimist, suggested that they’re “great if you’re looking to do a rock-painting project!”

We spotted one woman laying out, but she had to have been extremely uncomfortable to be on a bed of hard, protruding stones. And as if the rocky terrain weren’t enough to dissuade from swimming, each beach features a decomposing pier. There’s nothing like wading in an area that features sharp, wooden daggers with the ability to stab you if you dare kick or are pulled in the wrong direction.

On a positive note, each beach is amphitheater-style, which really immerses you into the setting. The effect magnifies the sound of gentle waves and makes you forget about the busy city traffic only a block away. There are tennis courts and flat grassy areas, great for doing yoga or letting your dog take a crap. (We saw both.)

A bit further south is Howard Beach Park. It is almost exactly like Juneway Terrace and Rogers Beach, with the advantage of slightly sandier terrain and most excitingly, a playground! Mothers were able to supervise their little ones on the slides while also keeping an eye on their more capable swimmers wading in the shallow water. If you’re in the area with kids, this beach is your best bet, but it still lacks any of the perks to truly make it a destination beach.

As Katie and I exited this beach, we were stopped by a man walking a labradoodle for looking slightly out of place. (Note: these beaches are the only ones where wearing bathing suits and holding towels will make you look out of place.) “If you’re looking for a better, sandier beach,” he lulled, “go to Jarvis Beach.” And then he snapped and his dog turned into fairy and they both flew away. Okay no not really, but I did appreciate his Gandalf-like guidance, and am thankful that this Labradoodle Man gave me something I could build to in this blog post. Jarvis Beach…Katie and I now had a mission to head to this exalted land, this beach of…sand and water…which up until 30 minutes ago we didn’t realize was actually something we’d have to search for.

Anyway, we continued heading south and stumbled upon Fargo Beach. This beach reassures that there is absolutely nothing positive that can ever be associated with the word “Fargo.” In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if at night, people brought wood-chippers to this beach to pulverize dead bodies.

The first thing we noticed was a massive dead fish floating belly-up along the shore. Charming. Shortly after, a group of (totally unsupervised) little girls started screaming as the dead fish washed ashore. Convinced that the fish was attacking them, they refused Katie’s and my explanations that the fish had clearly been dead for days. When we couldn’t provide a dramatic enough reason for the fish’s death, the girls decided the most logical conclusion is that it was attacked (but not eaten) by a shark.

After this blip, Katie and I were more ready than ever to see Jarvis Beach, the much-anticipated place that the magical Labradoodle Man told us about. We had been through our trials, and Katie and I were ready for our Emerald City, our Promised Land, our Wally World. We trudged through the sands, and then twenty feet later we found it. Jarvis Beach. Our eyes scanned the shore, from the breakers to the pier, and behold, we saw…a modestly sized beach with sand and an apathetic lifeguard. I mean I guess this beach is fine, and there were definitely more people here than at any of the others, but it really is just a plot of sand surrounded by some average-looking condo buildings.

Bottom line, if you’re in the area, your best bet is Jarvis Beach (or if you have multiple little kids in tow, Howard Beach). If you’re not in the area, don’t bother making the trip.

That’s it for now. Thoughts? Questions? Have any of you made the trip to Rogers Park beaches and you have a story to share?  Till next time, be kind and wear sunscreen!

Location: 7432-7800 N.
Parking: Limited street parking
Atmosphere: Dull, or quiet (depending on perspective)
Food/Restrooms:  None

Overall Grade:
Juneway Terrace & Rogers Ave: C
Howard Beach Park: C+
Fargo Beach: D
Jarvis: B-
*Note: Katie Porter and Christine Adams spent a full summer traveling to every single Chicago beach. A review of each will appear on Spacing Out every 1-2 days, so keep checking back! Material has been revised and republished from their original blog.
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  • fb_avatar

    You should have gone to Loyola Park/ Leone Beach. It is the biggest in Rogers Park. There is a pier with views to downtown, a kayak launch, tennis courts, baseball diamonds, basketball court, playground, a concession stand and tons of trees and sandy beaches as well as these benches:

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-07-01/entertainment/ct-ae-0703-rogers-park-bench-art-intr20110701_1_new-mural-paint-rogers-parkers

  • In reply to William Igoe:

    We reviewed that as a separate beach. Check back later today or tomorrow for our review--and we're with you, it's pretty nice!

  • fb_avatar

    What an absolutely breathtakingly substantive review of Chicago's north-side beaches. Totally informative, non-biased, and factual reporting. Rock on! Journalistic integrity at its finest. Like, OMG, I almost started crying.

  • I love that the blogger compares the beaches in Rogers Park to a 5th grade talent contest. It opens the door to compare her writing to the same standard. Compared to a 5th grader, it's not bad (notice how I give the reader some context of my comparison).

    Usually there is some grading standard with reviews of any kind, so if she would have given something a F the reader would have some context. Or how about what makes her an expert on beaches? After reading this blog, my guess is nothing. Just like when she was judging her fellow students. She has zero experience, but feels compelled to give the the performers a thumbs-down.

    I live in Rogers Park and I'm glad she tells people not to bother coming up here. Yes, the beaches here are for the locals. Go sight see some where else.

    I think this review tells us more about women that has much depth as a 5th grader than is does the beaches of Rogers Park.

  • In reply to thenewkid:

    Ouch! Sorry if we offended your beaches--I was hoping from my 5th grade writing that it was obvious that these reviews are meant to be lighthearted and fun. We visited all of the Chicago beaches, so the grading standard comes from us comparing all of the beaches to each other. Nowhere do we proclaim to be "beach experts," we're just trying to have some fun with Chicago's lakefront!

  • I thought haven’t read such distinctive material anywhere else on-line.
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