Choosing the right neighborhood in a new city is a daunting task, especially with the many exciting areas Chicago has to offer – 77, to be exact, with 12 unique downtown areas.
Each of these vibrant communities offers something a little different for everyone, so it’s important to choose the one that best suits your lifestyle and needs. Let’s take a look at the nightlife, architecture, public transportation and culture of these areas, so you can find out how to choose the right Chicago neighborhood.
Lincoln Park South
“Lincoln Park South” isn’t officially a neighborhood, but kind of like in the Journey song “Don’t Stop Believin’” if there’s a Detroit, then there’s a “South Detroit”. If you’re a young professional looking to settle into city life, Lincoln Park South is the one for you. This area has a distinctly suburban feel, with a mix of quiet residential streets and world-class dining and entertainment. This is a hip, young scene for foodies and cultural aficionados, with a vibrant theater scene in Lincoln Park, a South African fast-food chicken joint, Nando’s Peri Peri, and beautiful views of the lakefront.
This neighborhood also has plenty of transportation to the nearby neighborhoods of Old Town and the Loop, but you’re likely to find all you need within walking distance.
Gold Coast is the place for luxury. With its gorgeous lake view, world-class restaurants, boutique shopping and frequent celebrity sightings, Gold Coast is Chicago’s Upper East Side, and if you’re looking to splurge on some Jimmy Choos, Gucci or Chanel, this is the place for you. It also has a rich history, with some of the architecture dating back to the 1920s and the Newberry Library, which has been around since 1887 and houses over 1.5 million books.
Gold Coast is also a short walking distance from Lincoln Park South and offers plenty of public transportation to the nearby areas.
Known as one of the more energetic neighborhoods in Chicago, Old Town belies its name with some of the best activities and nightlife in the city. Whether you enjoy a night out watching the Cubs, Bears or Blackhawks with friends or an afternoon of beach games at the North Avenue Beach, Old Town has what you want.
Old Town also has bus and train routes that take you into the city or to the lakefront, but it’s also an excellent area for biking.
Located near some of Chicago’s biggest employers, Streeterville is the place for young professionals. It’s also close to some of Chicago’s biggest attractions, including the Magnificent Mile, Navy Pier and Museum of Contemporary Art, so there’s no shortage of events to keep you occupied all year long. Streeterville has many restaurants and stores, including the essentials like Whole Foods.
Many Streeterville residents walk to work and to the local attractions, but there’s also the nearby CTA Red Line to get into the city.
Lakeshore East has a small-community feel in the middle of a bustling urban environment. Some of the area’s best attractions, like Millennium Park, are nearby, but it’s a low-traffic, green area hidden among the skyscrapers. If you’re leaving a location with plenty of beautiful, green areas and wide open spaces, or you just like to stay in touch with nature, this is the spot for outdoor enthusiasts and pet lovers.
Lakeshore East is a very walkable area, but there are also buses and train lines to take you anywhere else you need to go.
The El train forms a loop at the center of downtown Chicago, which is where the Loop neighborhood gets its name. The Loop is at the center of it all, close to the Theater District, the Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park and the annual Lollapalooza summer festival. This is the cultural hub of the city, filled with hotspots and landmarks.
With the proximity to the El train, Loop residents never need a car. These lines will take you anywhere you need to go, and all your essentials are within walking distance.
River North is the epitome of urban living in Chicago. With an abundance of clubs, rooftop bars, speakeasies and local hotspots, River North is the ultimate party neighborhood for single, young professionals, while also offering some of the best gourmet dining and high-end shopping.
River North is near the Loop, so a simple jump to the El train means you can go just about anywhere in the city. Many residents also walk to work.
Fulton River is a quiet neighborhood, though it still has much of the urban appeal Chicagoans look for. Offering all the fine dining and energetic nightlife of River North, just across river, and the West Loop, just a 10 minute walk, Fulton River is perfect for those who want to enjoy a quiet, relaxing community with quick access to the urban scene.
Fulton River has all the essentials right there, but if you need to go elsewhere in the city, the CTA’s Blue, Green and Pink Lines are all accessible.
West Loop is more than an up-and-coming neighborhood for the trend setters. It’s arrived! Home to the new headquarters for McDonalds, as well as Google’s Chicago headquarters, it also offers the best dining in the city, which makes it appealing for young couples and professionals, as well as some gorgeous, industrial architecture and an antique and vintage marketplace.
West Loop also has several CTA lines that connect to the Red Line in the heart of the city, as well as Metra and Amtrak access to the suburban areas.
River West mixes a suburban vibe with the dining and nightlife of the big city. Tree-lined streets, rustic architecture and bike lanes keep it small, but food trucks and clubs in the downtown area ensure you get the full urban experience.
River West is close to the CTA’s Blue Line and the El train, putting you minutes away from downtown neighborhoods like West Loop, South Loop and River North.
As the name suggests, the Medical District is the neighborhood for medical students, researchers and educators from the University of Illinois and the Rush University Medical Center. Like college and university towns, the Medical District has a young vibe with plenty of tree-lined streets and pet-friendly parks, as well as sporting and concert venues. It’s also right next to the University Village/Little Italy neighborhood.
The Medical District is close to Highways 90 and 94, and the CTA’s Blue and Pink Lines can take you to all the nearby hotspots.
South Loop is another up-and-coming neighborhood in Chicago. Bikers and outdoor sporting enthusiasts will love the proximity to Lake Michigan and its many beaches, as well as the many parks and green patches for pets. South Loop is also home to some Chicago icons, such as Soldier Field, Museum Campus and the Museum of Science and Industry.
South Loop is the only neighborhood with direct access to both Lake Shore Drive and Highways 90 and 94. There are multiple train lines as well, including the CTA’s Red, Green and Orange Lines.
Find Your New Chicago Apartment with HotSpot Rentals
So, which of these fabulous Chicago neighborhoods speaks to you? They’re all so exciting and distinctive, we can understand why you’d have a hard time deciding between them.
If you need some advice on how to choose the right Chicago neighborhood for you, turn to HotSpot Rentals. We know all the ins and outs of these diverse neighborhoods, so we’ll be happy to give you the inside scoop to determine the one that suits your personality. Contact us today to find your new Chicago luxury apartment!