What do you like best about Chicago? Chances are, your answer falls into one of two camps: "the lake" or "summer." Ours does, too, which makes the moment ripe for celebrating that sparkling azure expanse, home to Chicago’s sunrise and a prehistoric bit of breathing room situated just east of the hubbub of modern city life. But if you think you know this lake, think again. We’ve plumbed its depths for bounty hidden far below the surface, from primordial forests to three-masted schooners to scale-tipping coho salmon. We know where to spot the black-crowned night heron and the Blue Angels. We’ve unearthed the ideal consistency for sandcastles (think pancake batter) and can now answer the question, What is the Graceland spit? (Hint: It’s not something you do on your enemy’s grave.) We even asked a few favorite Chicago writers to share unforgettable moments along the shore—snapshots that might get you reminiscing about your own midnight dip or lakeside kiss. Think of this as a how-to manual for your best summer ever.

Sailing Fishing Fitness Beaches Bird Watching Scuba Diving
“Water Color Lines”
by Bayo Ojikutu
“The Seiche”
by Stuart Dybek
“Absolute Amateurs”
by Joe Meno
“The Turning Point”
by Elizabeth Crane