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Don’t get us wrong, we love North Avenue Beach as much as the next gal, but sometimes we need a break from the crowds (and the club beats). In about an hour’s drive (as much time as it typically takes to find parking and walk to Castaways), you can reach one of these five lakes, quarries and swimming holes. 

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It’s hard to believe this aquatic park and beach was once a quarry. The surrounding city of Crystal Lake has transformed it into a peaceful oasis where you can swim, fish, bike and hike. Talk about an extreme makeover.

5517 Northwest Hwy., Crystal Lake; 815-356-3782 or

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Lake County Forest Preserves


This Libertyville refuge boasts some impressive stats: a 115-acre manmade lake and 400 feet of sandy beach. All that, and it’s just 30 miles north of the city.

16400 West Buckley Rd., Libertyville; 847-968-3499 or

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The lake is the main draw, but the historic mansions, walking trails and cozy restaurants are nothing to skip. Plan to spend a whole weekend here.

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Naperville has become a top city for young families, so it only makes sense that this local watering hole is so kid-friendly. Little ones must pass a swim test to dive in; from there, they’ll have access to the water slide, pump and sprayers in the shallow end of the 6.2-million-gallon lake.

500 W. Jackson Ave., Naperville; 630-848-5092 or


OK, so the dunes are technically on Lake Michigan, but with their rolling, sandy duney-ness and tall grasses, they can feel like another world—so yeah, we had to include them here. Swim, hike, paddle and bike your way along the 15 miles of coastline.

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