Uniquely Chicago Neighborhoods in the City
Chicago is a unique city, and a number of its terrific neighborhoods are not just special, as they also offer that unique Chicago style that can't be found anywhere else. As a local or a visitor, you can't miss these terrific areas of town that have their own special vibe and personality in Chicago.
The Loop is Chicago's downtown neighborhood and it is at the heart of the city's tourism scene. This area is filled with iconic attractions, classic architecture, theaters, restaurants, and shopping. It's where you'll find Millennium Park, the Chicago Riverwalk, the theatre district, and State Street. There are river cruises, architectural tours, as well as a vibrant nightlife scene with music festivals, and live music venues. For many tourists, this is the neighborhood where they spend the most time.
Albany Park is one of Chicago's most diverse neighborhoods with populations from Mexico, South America, the Philippines, India, Cambodia, Romania, the Middle East, and more. This neighborhood is a true mixing bowl of cultures and there are a number of great family-owned restaurants and shops. Head to the Albany Park Theater Project to learn more about the neighborhood's culture as they regularly host productions on the multi-cultural aspects of Albany Park.
Andersonville offers a truly unique personality with a vibrant bar scene and an energetic atmosphere. This neighborhood is home to one of the city's largest LGBTQ+ communities and it hosts annual Pride celebrations. The neighborhood also has beautiful architecture and a charming urban atmosphere, particularly along its main street. There are a large number of independently owned shops here and the "shop local" movement runs deep. Head to Clark Street for the most restaurants including diners, dives, and pastry shops.
Bronzeville was once home to such notable people as Louis Armstrong, Richard Wright, Bessie Coleman, and Ida B. Wells. While the neighborhood has struggled economically in the past, in recent years it has seen a number of new restaurants and shops opening. It's also a center for the arts with a free Trolley Tour available through the Bronzeville Art District.
The neighborhood of Garfield Park is all about green space. It opened its first park in 1874 and today the area has plenty of gardens, parks, and nature right in the heart of the city. The Garfield Park Conservatory is a highlight of the area with a number of different botanical environments such as the desert house, the fern room, and the tropical palm house. In the surrounding community, Garfield Park is a popular neighborhood for startups including the Hatchery which is a commercial kitchen that houses more than 100 local food and beverage startups. Head to the area during the warmer months to check out the community markets.
Located on the South Side of Chicago, this neighborhood is rich in history. It was the location of the 1893 World's Fair and it has a number of notable residences including a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright as well as the former home of President Barack Obama. Hyde Park sits on the edge of Lake Michigan and offers beautiful water views. It's also easily accessible to the 18 mile lakefront running and biking path. Within Hyde Park you'll find the University of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry, and part of Jackson Park.
Head to The Villa District in Irving Park to check out some of the classic Chicago bungalows. This neighborhood also has a number of breweries, a local theater, and Victorian mansions.
Bordering the shore of Lake Michigan to the east, Lakeview is a relaxed neighborhood with a laidback vibe. The area combines East Lakeview, Central Lakeview, Boystown, and Wrigleyville and it offers a number of entertainment options, shopping districts, as well as bars and restaurants that are popular with locals and tourists alike. There are live music venues, theaters, and dance clubs. There are also outdoor activities like the Lakefront Trail, picnic areas, a golf course, and summer street festivals. Boystown is also notable as the first gay neighborhood in the United States to gain official recognition by a city government. You can visit during June to celebrate the annual Pride Parade.
This neighborhood and park area offers a beautiful setting with nicely landscaped gardens, a quaint lily pond, and lakefront green space that has nice views of the city. The Lakefront Trail, the Lincoln Park Trail, Lincoln Park Zoo, North Avenue Beach, and Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum are all in the area. There is also plenty of shopping in Lincoln Park with many boutique shops spread among the row houses.
Lincoln Square is a touch of Germany right in Chicago. You can explore the cobblestone part of Lincoln Avenue and head to uniquely local shops that sell everything from sausage to clothing. Head to one of the traditional Bavarian style beer halls or poke your head in a locally owned boutique shop. Restaurants are great in the neighborhood so grab a meal and then head to the Davie Theater, with its old fashioned charm. If folk music is your style check out the Old Town School of Folk Music which has regular live performances. The neighborhood also hosts Maifest, which is a summer festival that celebrates everything about Germany.
The Pilsen neighborhood is in the Lower West Side of Chicago and it was historically made up of predominantly Czech immigrants but today it has a large Latino population, lots of great music venues, and a number of a great restaurants. The neighborhood also has impressive murals. There are street vendors who sell tacos as well as the National Museum of Mexican Art.
1235 West 21st Street, Lower West Side, Chicago, Illinois, 60608
Rogers Park is a bit off the main tourist circuit, but it has a number of unique architectural examples, including the Emil Bach House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as an impressive theater scene. The neighborhood is diverse, and that's reflected in the restaurants found there. It is also home to the Glenwood Avenue Arts District which has impressive murals, award-winning theaters, and a variety of live music venues. There are also many art galleries in the neighborhood. To the east the neighborhood runs into Lake Michigan's shoreline and there are many nice waterfront views.
Located by the lake, South Shore offers impressive views of the Chicago skyline. The neighborhood is filled with unique architecture and a diversity of culture. If you want to take advantage of the lakefront setting, head to Rainbow Beach Park. The South Shore Cultural Center is a beautiful area for picnics and nature as well as theater and opera. To explore the area's architecture, head to Jackson Park Highlands, which is a residential area with impressive mansions.
Streeterville is a popular neighborhood for tourists in Chicago. It's where you'll find the historic Navy Pier, the Museum of Contemporary area, and the Chicago Children's Museum. This family-friendly area sits on the edge of Lake Michigan and offers all kinds of activities for people of all ages. They often show outdoor movies and Navy Pier is filled with amusement rides including the 200 foot Centennial Wheel. There are also a number of boat cruises that leave from the area. Restaurants of all types are nearby, many with kid-friendly menus.
Uptown is known for its long history, cultural diversity, fun music scene, and lively entertainment options. The Green Mill is a popular spot in the neighborhood. It's a 100 year old jazz club that still has its Prohibition era vibe. Argyle Street is the place to go for Asian restaurants that offer Peking duck, sushi, dim sum, banh mi, and pho.
Wicker Park and Bucktown
The Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods are artsy areas that are popular with shoppers, foodies, and partiers. The area has vintage stores, record shops, and bookstores that are fun to browse during the day. At night, it comes to life with late-night clubs, pubs, dive bars, and live music. There are also restaurants that offer a diverse selection as well as laid back coffee houses with a trendy vibe.
Wrigleyville is where you'll find the famous Wrigley Field, which is the second oldest ballpark in the country and home to the Chicago Cubs. Near the stadium you'll find a number of sports bars, souvenir stall, and restaurants. Clark Street is the main drag where you'll find locals and Cubs fans. Also outside of the stadium is Gallagher Way, which is a popular meeting spot for fans, locals, and tourists. There are often farmers markets, outdoor concerts, film screenings, and even a holiday winter wonderland here.
How much does it cost?
Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $7 to $420. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $85. A few of the best options are below.
Where to Stay in Chicago