Chicago City Guide: Neighborhoods & Things to Do
Chicago is known as the Windy City but not for the reasons you might think. The nickname actually comes from the politicians there who “blow hot air” and have been doing so pretty much since the city’s founding in 1833. Of course, being right on the southern shore of Lake Michigan makes the nickname appropriate, as well, and perfect for a number of outdoor activities like sailing, windsurfing, kite flying and more. And while the city has dozens of incredible parks and marinas for these exciting activities, the city of Chicago is also home to over 250 live theaters, dozens of both well-known and obscure museums, art galleries, incredible shopping, historical sites and monuments and incredible dining experiences. If you’re looking for a cozy, elegant, or conveniently located apartment in this incredibly walkable city, our Chicago city guide can help you find the perfect spot for the right price in your ideal neighborhood.
Chicago city highlights
When you move to one of the amazing neighborhoods Atlanta has to offer, you’ll have access to some of the country’s greatest attractions and events.
- North Avenue Beach: For beach lovers, walkers, cyclists and joggers, North Avenue Beach is a popular spot along Lake Michigan located within Lincoln Park. North Avenue Beach is considered Chicago’s best beach by most, welcoming swimmers and sunbathers, diners and more for a relaxing afternoon filled with sunshine.
- Lake Shore Trail: Running nearly the entire length of the city on Lake Michigan, near Lake Shore Drive, the Lake Shore Trail offers outdoor enthusiasts 18-miles of glorious foot and biking path with stunning views of the water, city skyline and access to many of the city’s most popular destinations – including the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum and the Adler Planetarium.
- The 606: For folks further inland, the 606 is your go-to cycling, walking and running destination in popular neighborhoods like Bucktown and Logan Square. The linear park and trail network stretches four kilometers through four neighborhoods, on a former elevated train track, providing walkers with beautiful views around the city. You’ll find multiple entrances and parks along the way for easy access.
- Chicago Theatre: The iconic Chicago Theatre on State Street is in the heart of entertainment, shopping and more. The building, built in 1921, has an interior worth visiting for alone – but the on-going stream of high-quality entertainment draws in thousands every year.
- Wrigley Field: Home of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field – in Wrigleyville – is the nation’s second oldest ballpark after Boston’s Fenway Park. The field was built in 1914 and hosts ballgames, concerts and other broadly appealing events throughout the warmer months.
- Lincoln Park Zoo: An amazing array of world animals – including big cats, camels, rhinos and kangaroos – finds home at the city’s free zoo located in Lincoln Park. The zoo has a beautiful conservatory, over 1,100 animals in residence, exhibits, plenty of walking space (it’s a great place to run!) and beautiful landscaping the whole family will enjoy.
- Chicago Water Tower and the Magnificent Mile: Located on Michigan Avenue near the lake, the Chicago Water Tower is the oldest standing building within city limits. The Tower and Pump House survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and remains one of the most iconic spots in the city. It also happens to be located on one of the most popular shopping areas in the city – the Magnificent Mile. Here you’ll find stores of all sorts – fashion, beauty, jewelry, gifts, candy and unique boutique restaurants and sweets shops.
Chicago city guide to the best neighborhoods for renters
Love Chicago but not sure which neighborhood will be the best fit for your lifestyle? Our Chicago city guide can help with details about walkability, shopping, attractions and more within the neighborhoods listed below.
This centrally located neighborhood in Chicago is at the heart of the city’s bustling entertainment and shopping district. Apartments in the neighborhood typically are airy and modern with access to a wide range of amenities, depending on the building. The neighborhood itself is home to multiple big-name tech employers, art galleries, fine dining, historical sites and attractions and amazing bars. You’ll also find some amazing shopping and plenty of popular attractions to enjoy with friends and family when they visit. West Loop is incredibly accessible to public transit and is highly walkable for most of your daily activities and needs.
Bridgeport is a residential, walkable neighborhood on the Southwest Side of Chicago. You’ll find charming cottages, landscaped row houses and brick townhouses and flats – all with a beautiful historic charm and great prices for renters. You’ll find lovely parks and delicious dining establishments all around, along with the Bridgeport Arts Center with classes and events within easy walking distance.
North Center is a quiet neighborhood bordering the North Branch, revolving around Lincoln Avenue where you’ll find Irish pubs and breweries, plenty of storefront theaters and cozy coffee shops. It’s a great neighborhood for students and families looking for plenty of activity without all the bustle of some of the nearby neighborhoods like Roscoe Village and Avondale. Horner Park is a great neighborhood park, along with many others and the longest pedestrian bridge in the city and 312 River Run, leading to Clark and California Parks.
Uptown is an affordable neighborhood with loads of lakeside apartments, lively entertainment and plenty of historical charm. You’ll find the Green Mill – Al Capone’s old favorite jazz club – and tons of other live entertainment venues are scattered all around the neighborhood. You’ll also find locally owned dining establishments of all cuisine types, easy shopping with boutiques and big box stores and plenty of parks. Public transit is extremely accessible and bike lanes are plentiful. The whole neighborhood is extremely walkable and connects to the Lake Shore Trail.
The neighborhood is home to the city’s largest park, which it shares the name with. The Lincoln Park Zoo is also located within the park, along with marinas and unique attractions and lush gardens. The neighborhood offers several lakeview apartments, many trails, a nature museum, history museum and more, plus plenty of shopping and dining. The neighborhood is one of the most popular spots for young couples and families, thanks partially to the nearby attractions but also for the vibrant nightlife and the affordable apartments. The neighborhood is accessible to all forms of public transit and is exceptionally walkable. Joggers and urban cyclists especially enjoy this neighborhood for the many trails nearby.
This sleek, upscale neighborhood is one of the most popular among college students and young adults but is equally loved by mature families who love easy accessibility and plenty of activities. The neighborhood offers some of the finest dining opportunities, dramatic skyline views, an incredible art scene and some of the liveliest nightlife in the city. It’s almost one of the most walkable neighborhoods in the city with easy access to public transit as well. There are plenty of walking paths and urban playgrounds, new bars and entertainment venues of all types.
Another popular neighborhood north of the Loop is Lakeview, which, as the name indicates, is situated on the edge of Lake Michigan. The neighborhood is home to Wrigleyville – a smaller neighborhood within a neighborhood – where Wrigley Field resides, along with some of the most enjoyable casual dining in the city. The neighborhood is an accessible arts center in town as well, with eclectic venues of all sorts, quick local eateries and Irish pubs. The neighborhood also adjoins parts of Lincoln Park where you’ll find trails and playgrounds, public art and more. Lakeview is another one of the most walkable neighborhoods in the city.
For those who are looking for the finer things in life, the Gold Coast of Chicago is your must-investigate neighborhood. The trendy neighborhood has the finest luxury apartments and access to the most upscale restaurants and shopping in the city. Here you’ll find the Magnificent Mile, the Water Tower, plenty of lakeview apartments and the most celebrity spotting opportunities in the city. The neighborhood is also one of the oldest in the city, so if you’re a history lover, you’ll also enjoy the many historic sites located throughout the neighborhood. The neighborhood is very walkable, though stress can be crowded during peak tourist season.
Once home to former President Barack Obama, Hyde Park has become one of the most up-and-coming neighborhoods of Chicago in recent years. With boutique dining and shops, plenty of parks, easy public transit access and beautiful architecture, the newest art center of Chicago is the perfect location for folks looking for plenty of activity without being in the Loop.