Fun Chicago neighborhoods?

Jan 18th, 2006, 01:19 PM
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Fun Chicago neighborhoods?

Hi, my friends and I will be spending my birthday weekend in Chicago and I want to visit some new areas this time around.

I adore Chicago, and am pretty familiar with the Loop/Mag Mile area, but really want to explore some of the other neighborhoods of the the city.

We love unique little cafes , shopping at mainstream stores as well as quirky shops you won't find anywhere else, bookstores, restaurants, and upscale yet comfortable nightlife (not fans of the velvet rope and cover charge scene!)

I won't be renting a car, so I am used to getting around using public transportation and that won't be an issue.

Which Chicago neighborhoods fit the bill? Also, if anyone can recommend specific cafes, bookstores, restaurants, bars, shops, etc...that would be a big help! I want to start making my "to do" list.....

Thanks in advance!
Elizabeth27 is offline  
Jan 18th, 2006, 01:55 PM
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Lincoln Park and Lakeview, but to be more specific, it would help to know your age? If you're in your 20's, the above will be great for you. Easy access to public transportation.
Dori is offline  
Jan 18th, 2006, 02:35 PM
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You can also take Chicago Neighborhood Tours with the Chicago Historical Society that explore all of the different neighborhoods and make stops so you can get out and shop, go to the cafes and such... They're really great for any age. We've done many with my daughter who's 16, myself (45) and my mom in her 70s. Everyone enjoyed them. My daughter and I especially enjoyed the shopping!
mschau is offline  
Jan 18th, 2006, 02:43 PM
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Thanks for the info so far...and to answer the question above..we are all in our early 30's.
Elizabeth27 is offline  
Jan 18th, 2006, 04:24 PM
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Lincoln Square is a charming old German community and Andersonville is the same for the Swedish. There's a Swedish American museum in Andersonville. Also, have you explored Hyde Park? There's Jackson Park with the Japanese Gardens, a few small museums on the Univ. of Chicago Campus, and the Robie House. There's also some great restaurants like the Dixie Kitchen. The Mexican American museum in Pilsen is really cool, and there is of course some great Mexican food and shopping in the neighborhood. On Ashland, just south of 18th St., there is a huge old theater that now houses a store that sells some very interesting furniture and gifts. The suburb of Oak Park is on the green line, and is famous for it's Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, as well as other great architecture and shopping. The Prairie District, south of the South Loop has a couple of historic homes, though not much else yet. There's Bronzeville and Pullman on the south side. Bronzeville was one the most properous African-American communities in the country, and it's rich legacy is currently being restored. Pullman was the company town built to house the workers who made the famous railroad cars. Beverly and Morgan Park have a lot of gourgeous homes, as well as some good restaurants and a new arts center. Check out

I live near Beverly, so I have to plug it.
flamingomonkey is offline  
Jan 18th, 2006, 04:53 PM
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about twenty miles southwest from the city is Napervile a short trip by the train. Great resturants and clubs good nightlife etc.
lilminkey is offline  
Jan 19th, 2006, 07:55 AM
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I was also going to suggest Lincoln Square - diverse mix of old and new, very walkable, easy to reach on public transportation. The Old Town School of Folk Music is nearby for entertainment.
patg is offline  
Jan 19th, 2006, 08:38 AM
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Def. No to Naperville, that's called the far west suburbs. Get a 2 or 3 day el pass so you can bounce around.
Blue line to Damen. This is Bucktown/Wickerpark. Main Streets: North/Damen/Milwaukee. Shops, boutiques, restuarants, considered "artsy".

Brown line to Armitage (LIncoln Park), tons of shops, cafes, may be a 20ish crowd but you'll enjoy it.

Brown Line to Western. Lincoln Square. Have dinner at Bocca De La Verita, cute affordable italian.

Red Line to Addison, Wrigley Field, bars, restaurants, shops up and down Clark St.

Red Line to Lawrence at night for Jazz at the famous Green Mill Club (in Uptown area)

See and search for events too.

If you want to see a suburb take the purple line N to Evanston, Tour NW Univ (nice campus) and tons of shops and restaurants).

eroz is offline  
Jan 19th, 2006, 08:39 AM
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oh gosh, and red line S to Chinatown, a great easy adventure and good place for lunch!
eroz is offline  
Jan 19th, 2006, 08:53 AM
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Lincoln Park or Lakeview are full of fun shops and restaurants. Bucktown/Wicker Park is great too, with more of an edge to it.
Don't go to Naperville, PLEASE! No offense but it's suburbia at it's most stereotypical. Check out this link for more info...
swalter518 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2006, 03:47 PM
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I will also suggest Lincoln Square and Bucktown/Wicker Park. Both easily accessible by public transportation, and neither have quite become Lincoln Park yet

Vittrad is offline  
Jan 19th, 2006, 06:54 PM
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Evanston. Neat town, and you can take either the El or the Metra up there. Very short ride from anywhere in Chicago proper.

Some call Evanston a suburb, and I guess it technically is. But it is a 200 year old suburb, with a decidedly "village" feel, great lake view, beautifully preserved victorian and brownstone homes (great for a walk) and world class university with a beautiful campus. Plus, lots of great cafes and shops. If you need a suggestion, I'd recommend "That Little Mexican Cafe". But there are many others as well.
Hazelmn is offline  
Jan 19th, 2006, 07:03 PM
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By the way, I concur that Naperville probably doesn't fit your bill. It is a perfectly nice suburb, but when you say you're looking for "neighborhoods of the the city", I'm guessing you want Chicago or at least adjacent to the city.
Hazelmn is offline  
Jan 20th, 2006, 03:19 PM
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Lincoln Park is so great. You would really enjoy it!
AtlantaTraveler2 is offline  
Jan 20th, 2006, 03:53 PM
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Wow! Thank you all so much. I am overwhelmed by the quantity...and quality...of your responses!

We are really looking forward to checking out some of these areas you all have recommended....and yes, we were kind of looking for areas that weren't too far from the city proper, considering our trip is only for 3 days this time.

Keep the ideas coming..I am going to print this thread and take it with us on the trip! I really appreciate your input and opinions.....
Elizabeth27 is offline  
Jan 21st, 2006, 02:05 AM
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Elizabeth27, are you looking for theatre suggestions too? The Chicago theatre scene is much more than just the Loop theatre district.

For example, the Steppenwolf and the Royal George Theatres are on N. Halsted across the street from each other--and right around the corner from shopping (North/Halsted/Clyborn and Clyborn Corridor area). In addition, BOKA (for dining) and Landmark (for dancing) are in the immediate area. And it's not too far from Old Town, where Second City and Zanies are located.

Agree with the suggestions for Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Wrigleyville (including N. Southport area), Lincoln Square, Bucktown/Wicker Park.

Wanted to mention that deciding on the neighborhood, it also depends what type of goods you are shopping for. For example, second-hand or kitschy stuff, you might take the Red Line up to the Belmont stop and go up Halsted into "Boystown". Home decor? N. on Broadway from Belmont up to Addison. More upscale? Armitage, mostly Halsted to Racine.

Do you need restaurant suggestions in each area as well?
exiledprincess is offline  
Jan 21st, 2006, 12:30 PM
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You might also want to check out Chicago's so-called Restaurant Row, on Randolph Street in the West Loop near downtown.

The area's booming, with lots of condo conversions and new construction, as well as an abundance of excellent restaurants (and Oprah's studio).

It's not real neighborhoody in any traditional sense, but it's a great dining option if you're eager to avoid the typical tourist hangouts.
hatch3 is offline  
Jan 21st, 2006, 02:15 PM
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Exiledprincess..thanks for the great information. Extremely helpful. We are actually interested in a theatre option for one night. I have been to the Second City before, so I am familiar with the area in Old Town.

I had seen on this board where posters recommend visitors see "Wicked" in the Loop, but I am certainly open to theatre sugestions outside the city proper as well.

As far as what kind of shopping we are looking for...probably mostly clothing (moderate to upscale, but not too high end), shoes, purses, and quirky little collectible stores (writing supplies, bath products, makeup, etc).

Also, any recommendation for a day spa that might offer a reasonably priced package...maybe for a massage and facial for the birthday girl??

And yes, exiled princess, restaurant and nightlife suggestions would be very helpful for these areas...thanks again.

Also, to hatch3, I am slightly familiar with the area you are describing as "restaurant row"..I think I may have been past Oprah's studios on the way to a Blackhawks game at the United Center, maybe? Any recommendations for restaurants you can give? We are really into most any kind of cuisine options.

Thanks to all for their input...I wish I could have you all with us as guides for our upcoming trip!! Keep 'em comin'!
Elizabeth27 is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2006, 04:14 PM
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Hi. I used to live in Milwaukee and made frequent trips to the Windy City. Check out Wicker Park, Bucktown, Boystown for cool neighborhoods. If you're downtown, stop by BIN36 for great wine (menus full of wine flights at reasonable prices with great food and fab atmosphere). Also check out Lucky magazine online as they have wonderful shopping tips and guides for Chicago. Have fun!
rachelanneb is offline  
Jan 24th, 2006, 09:12 AM
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Hi Elizabeth27!
These are theater recommendations, so if you've already taken care of this, you can skip me .
I'd recommend Steppenwolf Theatre's production of "Well-Appointed Room" - saw it this past weekend with my girlfriends and we really enjoyed it. It's two little plays - the first really dark but funny, and the second more thought-provoking and affecting. The actors are great -- I see a lot of theater here and in NY, and they're really among the best. So, I'll try to get down to the nuts and bolts: location: 1650 N. Halsted, times: Friday (7:30), Sat (3 & 7:30), Sun (3 & 7:30). Running time: 1 hr. 50 minutes. Ticket prices: If you can get on the phone when the box office opens (Fri-Sat @ 11am, Sun @ 1pm), you can buy tix for $22.50 - part of their "20 for $20" promotion. Tickets are usually in the back of the main floor or balcony, but since the theater is so small, there's not a bad seat anywhere. I sat in the 3rd row balcony on the end of the aisle, and I saw and heard everything beautifully.

Nearby recommended restaurant: VINCI (wonderful Italian- you can order 1/2 size entrees - More than enough food; good wine, nice conversation restaurant, steps away from Steppenwolf), Nearby shopping: Armitage Avenue x Halsted (Nice boutique shopping from 1800 N. Halsted up to 2300 N. Halsted) and on Armitage westbound from Halsted).

Other theater recos: "Pericles" at Goodman is visually gorgeous! The easiest Shakespeare I've ever experienced, and the most fun. "The Sea Horse" is at A Red Orchid Theatre - their highest price ticket is $20 and this is the purest "Chicago theater" experience you will find. Small theater (maybe 50 seats?), tucked back from the street, hard-core and seasoned actors -- I've only been to 5 or 6 of their shows since I kinda just found out about them 3 years ago (they've been around 12 or 13 years), and the shows all really stay with me - always a great experience there. And the theater is just 1/2 block south of the Second City theater in Old Town so there's loads of great restaurants (I like Adobo Grill-Mexican restaurant). In any case, I hope you have a great weekend!
ChgoGal is offline  

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