Sun, sand and swim make for lakefront fun in Evanston 

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View Evanston’s skyline from the east

The Evanston Recreation Division offers boating lessons on Lake Michigan. Sign up for private instruction on sailing boats or group kayaking lessons. Lessons for age 14 and older are offered June 11 through Labor Day at Dempster Street Beach. Evanston residents pay $60 for two one-hour kayaking lessons. The fee for four one-hour private sailing lessons is $150. Nonresident fees are higher. Call (847) 866-2913 (preseason) or (847) 866-4167 (beach season).

Twilight historical kayak tours offer a unique look at Evanston’s history

Stops include the wreck of the George Morley, the Grosse Point Lighthouse and the Baha’i House of Worship (Temple) in Wilmette. Leisurely paddles led by Wateriders take place from 6 – 7:45 p.m. on Thursdays or Fridays on June 16, June 30, July 15 and Aug. 12. No experience is required. Age level: 14 and older. Ages 10-13 may attend with an adult. Fee varies based on whether you rent a kayak or bring your own. Call the Evanston Recreation Division at (847) 866-4167 to register.

Rowing for Fitness

Sign up for Rowing for Fitness private lessons, and enjoy a magnificent way to work out on the water. You will be rowing on Lake Michigan after one or two lessons. Sliding seat rowing, or sculling, uses all the major muscle groups to provide a non-impact full-body workout. Although Wateriders has been offering rowing instruction since 1997, they offered instruction through the City of Evanston at Dempster Street Beach for the first time in 2010. All equipment is provided. The age level for classes is 14 years and older. The fee for four private 70-minute lessons is $160 for Evanston residents and $210 for nonresidents. For more information or to register, call (312) 953-9287 or visit

Kayak fishing trips

Learn the art of catch-and-release fishing on Lake Michigan. You will study cast and retrieve techniques, as well as lure/bait choice, to best maximize your Great Lake fishing adventure. The targets are smallmouth bass, perch, bluegill and more. Each class will have a quick on-shore demo and 90 minutes on the water. The Evanston Recreation Division will supply all the necessary equipment except a fishing license. Participants meet at the Dempster Street Beach Office. The age level is 14 years and older. Youth age 10-13 may enroll with an adult in the same kayak. Fee vary based on whether you use a rented kayak or your own. Classes are held from 6 – 7:45 p.m. on Thursday or Fridays. Class dates are June 24, July 22, August 11 and August 25. For more information or to register, call (847) 866-4167.

Sand Castle and Sand Sculpture Contest

This popular event sponsored by the Evanston Recreation Division is bigger and better every year. All ages are invited to bring buckets, shovels, sculpting tools, etc., and compete to win prizes. The sand castle and sand sculpture contest will take place from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. on Monday, July 11 at Clark Street Beach, 1811 Sheridan Rd. in Evanston. Call (847) 866-4167 from July 1-10 to pre-register. Rain date is July 18. Contest admission is free, but beach admission fee applies. Note: beach admission is free for Evanston residents on July 11.

Swimming beaches

Evanston’s five public swimming beaches are open from 10:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. through Labor Day, Sept. 5. You need beach token or daily pass for admission. Purchase season tokens seven days a week at the Dempster Street Beach office from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. and at the Clark Street Beach office from 10:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. Tokens also are sold during office hours at community centers and the Morton Civic Center. Purchase daily passes at beach entrances. Evanston has three beaches that are accessible to people with disabilities: Greenwood Street, Lee Street and Lighthouse. For more information, call (847) 866-4167 or visit

Picnic in the park

If you’re gathering with your family or friends for a small picnic in an Evanston park, you don’t need to pay a fee if you don’t wish to purchase a permit. However, picnic areas are available on a first-come, first-served basis. For busy weekends, you may wish to reserve a picnic location by purchasing a permit. If you’re planning a gathering with more than 30 people in a City of Evanston park, please call the Evanston Recreation Division at (847) 448-8237 to find out what parks can accommodate your group. Details on picnics in the park and park permits are located online. Go to and type “park permit” in the search box on the home page or call (847) 448-8237.

Courtesy of the City of Evanston