Best Surf

57th Street Beach

Critics' Picks

Chicago surfers just have to make do with what's nearby—which means Lake Michigan is their best option for carving waves. Unlike ocean surfing, where waves are built by weather that might be brewing far off the coast, lake surfing occurs in the fetch, with the very wind that creates the waves still overhead. Local surfer/photographer Mike Killion, like other nine-to-fivers, is part of the community's dawn patrol, often heading to the beach before the sun peeks over the horizon. And if the wind is strong enough to whip around Promontory Point and get into the bay at 57th Street Beach in Hyde Park, that's the spot. Killion points out that we're lucky to even have surfing options in Chicago; it's only been five years since the city lifted its decades-long ban on flotation devices, thanks a great deal to the effort put forth by the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, of which Killion is a member.