North Avenue Beach is one of THE most popular locations in the city to have an engagement session. The view of the Chicago skyline over Lake Michigan makes it a no-brainer for so many couples wanting to take their engagement photos in the city. This is why we are going over the entire process of planning for an engagement session at North Avenue Beach from how to get there, what to wear, what to expect, seasonal weather, the best times to go, inspiration, and more!
Beachfront locations are super fun and romantic for engagement sessions. At North Avenue Beach, you get the warm vacation-y feel of the beach along with the breathtaking views of the skyline. It’s also within walking distance of cute Lake View neighborhoods and the Lincoln Park Boardwalk and is an awesome place for an engagement session year-round! There is really nothing that beats these city views though.
Other than the harshest Chicago weather that typically comes in late January or early February, North avenue beach is a GREAT location year-round for your engagement session. The skyline views are always breathtaking and with the beach facing east, there’s always an amazing sunrise and sunset to frame your session. There are a LOT of extreme differences depending on when you go though, so here is what to expect when choosing when to have your engagement session at North Ave Beach.
When choosing a season to have your session, there will be a handful of factors that change with the seasons outside of the weather. There is no “good” or “bad” season to have your session at North Avenue Beach, the best time to have your engagement session at North Avenue Beach will all depend on your preferences.
Springtime engagement sessions at North Avenue Beach are so beautiful! There is a little bit of chill to the air still, but there are still SO many gorgeous warm weather days. Unfortunately, though, the temperatures in springs in Chicago do tend to vary extensively. Spring in Chicago can vary anywhere from 20 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Along with the temperature being unpredictable, rain is also often in the forecast. One of the great things about a spring engagement session though is that you are often times beating busy season for the beach, thus you can still have the space to yourself. Typically, there won’t be many beachgoers, or volleyball games, late spring things will begin to pick up though.
I LOVE a Chicago summer as so many couples do. People are happier, the weather is warmer, and the city is typically in full view! With that being said, North Avenue Beach around sunset in the summer is BUSY. Between beachgoers, runners, tourists, and other couples taking their engagement photos, you will have to share the space quite a bit more at times like sunset. If you’re wanting that warm weather, but would prefer to have a little more of a quiet beach experience, opt for sunrise for your summer engagement session at North Avenue Beach!
FALL, oh my goodness do I love a good fall engagement session at North Avenue Beach. There are fewer people because of the chilly lake effect temperatures, and the trees you pass on the way to the beach have the beautiful fall colors of the midwest, and the lake is just breathtaking with a little cool air flowing over it. You’ll get some cozy vibes during a fall engagement session, so pop on your favorite pair of denim and a cozy sweater and get excited! Fall engagement sessions at North Avenue Beach are just too good.
If you and bae live in or grew up in the Midwest, then a winter engagement session at North Avenue Beach might be an option for you! You do want to make sure you are prepared both mentally and physically for the temperatures and conditions that come with North Avenue Beach in the winter though. Depending on the weather, there might be snow along with beautiful ice chunks in the lake. The temperatures will be low, but with the lake breeze, prepare for them to be a little lower than what the temperature is listed as on your phone. One of the best parts of a winter engagement session though is there is a good chance you might be the only ones on the beach!
Once you know the date of your engagement session, you can use timeanddate to get a precise time for sunrise or sunset. Both sunrise and sunset are gorgeous at North Avenue Beach but expect a sunset to be much busier, especially during the summer.
In spring and early fall, you can expect the sun to rise sometime between 5:00 and 6:30 AM and set sometime between 5:30 and 8:00 PM (due to daylight savings).
During the summer, you can expect the sun to rise sometime between 5:00 and 6:00 AM and set sometime between 7:30 and 8:00 PM.
During the winter, you can expect the sun to rise sometime between 6:30 and 7:00 AM and set sometime between 4:30 and 5:30 PM.
Because of how harsh the sun can be during the day in an open space like North Avenue Beach I do prefer to shoot closer to sunset/golden hour so that we can get the best lighting for your session.
If you’re one for drama, wearing a flowy skirt is SO much fun at North Avenue Beach! With the lakefront wind, you’ll get some awesome cinematic shots. Dress with the weather in mind and be sure to watch the weather reports like a hawk! If it’s a nice day, don’t be afraid to get in the water. You’ll want to bring good walking shoes because no matter where you park, there will be a LOT of walking to be done throughout the session, and it’s important to note that there is a lot of sand, so be prepared!
The most convenient spot would be the North Avenue Beach Parking lot off Lasalle Drive. Keep in mind that it has an entrance fee and sometimes fills up, so as a backup the Lincoln Park Zoo lot is a great option.
Lincoln Park Zoo Parking off Fullerton is nearby but also will require you to pay an entrance fee. If you’re going straight to North Avenue Beach for your engagement session, drive to the end of the extremely long parking lot and park by the Lincoln Park Soccer Turf. From there, there is a bridge that takes you over the highway on foot and then it is only a short walk to the ribbon of North Avenue Beach!
If you’re down for a walk, there is free parking on Cannon Drive by Diversey Harbor but be prepared to loop around a couple of times to find a spot as it does get pretty busy. It will end up being a little over a mile walk to the beach. If you’re taking an Uber or a Lyft there, I’d recommend making Shore Club Chicago on North Avenue Beach your destination.
Whether you’re going to two locations for your engagement session, or you’re just wanting to explore the area after we are done with photos, there are SO many cool locations throughout the area to explore. Here are some of my favorite spots around North Avenue Beach.
The boating docks of Diversey Harbor are a nice peaceful spot to get some photos in. The docks, the lake, and the gorgeous view of the skyline make for a beautiful backdrop.
The native prairies, pond, and “honeycomb” pavilion make the Lincoln Park Nature Boardwalk an awesome spot for an engagement session. If you’re looking for a peaceful getaway from the beach during your session, be sure to take a stroll here.
This is arguably the most serene spot located near North Avenue Beach. The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool is encircled by a stone walk, shaded by trees, and features the peaceful sounds of nature and running water.
The Victorian Glass House filled with exotic plants from around the world along with the outdoor gardens at the Lincoln Park Conservatory make for a very scenic backdrop for you and your honey’s portraits. You do need a permit to take photos here though so plan ahead! And if you are planning to go as part of your date, be sure to check their hours.
If you can’t tell I LOVE North Avenue Beach and would love to have a dance party with you and bae on the ribbon this summer. If you like what you’ve read so far and would like to chat with me about your vision for YOUR North Avenue Beach Engagement Session, head to my contact page and send me an inquiry. You can expect a personalized response within 48 business hours or so. I absolutely cannot wait to help you plan and bring about the engagement session of your dreams!