This past Monday was a rare day when my daughter and I had absolutely nothing planned, from morning til night. I was also feeling in a bit of a funk, and I thought we should shake up our routine. I remembered vaguely hearing last summer that Crystal Lake had a neat new beach, so we headed up Randall Road. Here's what we found, including a funny twist.
Location: 300 Lake Shore Drive in Crystal Lake. It took us about 45 minutes to reach the beach from Geneva.
Hours: 9 a.m. until dusk daily. Once school is in session, the beach is open from 3 p.m. until dusk. In 2012, the Main Beach opened for the season on May 26. It will close for the season on Monday , Sept. 3. (Check thewebsite for the hours for the smaller West Beach, which lacks concessions and boat rentals.) Note: Make sure the beach is indeed open on the day you're planning to visit. You can call 815-477-5404, or there is a link onthe site if the McHenry County Department of Health has to close the beach for any water quality reasons.
Amenities: The beach has a large sandy area, a large wooden playground, lots of picnic tables in the shade and a beach house that has two sets of restrooms, showers, benches and hooks. There are no lockers in the beach house, so I locked my valuables in the car, and just took my beach bag and what cash I would need. The concession stand sells chips, ice cream, beverages and candy, as well as pizza slices ($3) and fries ($3.50). (If you are going to be eating a meal at the beach, I'd recommend bringing your own food just because the options for "real" food at the stand are so limited.) A variety of boats are available for rental at $6 an hour, including paddleboats, canoes, rowboats, kayaks and for those who are certified, sailboats at $8 an hour. Animals are prohibited at the beaches. There are a number of lifeguards. You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas, or you can bring your own foldable variety from home, too.