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If you’ve spent time in downtown Chicago you know it has a magical quality to it you won’t find anywhere else. The lake, the shopping, the parks, the art, the river, and omg, the food – they all come together to create an atmosphere that’s one-of-a-kind.

Each neighborhood has its own magic qualities too, but only one makes you feel like you’re walking through a fairytale. It’s Chicago’s Gold Coast and it’ll capture your heart. 

The Ultimate Guide to Chicago's Gold Coast Neighborhood

This is Gold Coast 

The Gold Coast neighborhood, part of Chicago’s Near North community, has an allure that just can’t be matched. I love everything about this lakeside masterpiece of a neighborhood – it’s quaint, quiet and oozing with history. 

I should mention right now – Gold Coast has got major money, honey. The wealthiest pocket of this urban neighborhood keeps pace with New York’s Upper East Side and San Francisco’s Pacific Heights. Pretty good company, right? 

Located about a mile north of the heart of downtown, this charmer of a neighborhood is small, making each resident one of the lucky few that get to call it home. In fact, the entire perimeter is just 2.5 miles. Even my Labradoodle can manage walking the neighborhood loop, saying hello to every French Bulldog (I swear this breed is the unofficial mascot of the Gold Coast) we meet along the way. 

Map showing where Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood is on a map of downtown Chicago

Gold Coast’s Borders 

The exact neighborhood borders vary, depending on who’s giving you their expert opinion – and everyone has one. 

Let’s start with the Gold Coast Neighbors Association’s official assessment, which is a bit of a wild ride. Let’s walk the border, beginning in the northwest corner. 

A map showing the walking route around Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood historic borders
The turn-by-turn route of the Gold Coast’s unofficially official borders

Start on the corner of North Avenue and Lake Shore Drive. You’ll see Lincoln Park to the north and the shores of Lake Michigan to the east. Head west down North Avenue, until you hit Clark Street, then head south until you hit Division. 

Hang a left (that’s east), and go 4 blocks to N. State Street. Turn right (you got it, that’s south) and continue down State. You’ll walk through Gold Coast’s restaurant district and then hit Oak Street. 

Take a left (east, again) on Oak and follow it to Michigan Avenue where you’ll take a quick one block walk south to Walton Street. Head east on Walton to Lake Shore Drive, then follow the lakeshore north back up to North Avenue. 

But, It’s Complicated 

Now, if we know one thing, it’s that Chicago’s neighborhood borders are actually rather subjective. Folks and businesses that live outside these borders will swear they reside in the Gold Coast. And, you know what? We’ll give it to them… 

Just southeast of Gold Coast, you’ll find another fantastic northside neighborhood called Streeterville, and a few of its northern blocks are often labeled as being in Gold Coast. 

And in-between Gold Coast’s eastern and southern neighboring neighborhoods (Old Town and River North), there’s a half-mile section that Google refers to as Near North. This six-by-six-ish block area, spanning south to Chicago Avenue and east to Wells Street, feels very Gold Coast and is scooped up as an honorary part of the neighborhood.   

A map showing where Gold Coast's extra borders are

No matter its technical borders, Gold Coast’s location is pretty picture-perfect – just outside of the hustle of downtown’s core and right on sparkling Lake Michigan. But, it’s what’s inside those borders that makes the Gold Coast the best of best. 

Gold Coast History 

Every great neighborhood in Chicago has a story to tell. And the Gold Coast’s is one of the greatest. Let’s start at the very beginning…

An Eye On The North Side 

After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the now gorgeous Gold Coast neighborhood looked anything but shiny and new. Desolate and hardly populated, the land resembled a swamp. It stayed that way while the rest of the city began to rebuild, leaving the north end of the city practically untouched. 

Enter Potter Palmer, a wealthy Chicago businessman who saw opportunity where others saw none. Palmer, one of the founding fathers of Chicago’s beloved Marshall Field and Company department store, purchased the land and set his sights on development. 

In 1875, as Palmer was making his plans, Lake Shore Drive opened, connecting North Avenue and Oak Street. Did you know when Lake Shore Drive was first built, it was literally on the shore? The sandy beach was just feet away from the street. It was a simple paved road, wide enough for two carriages to comfortably pass one-another. Yes, horse-drawn carriages! 

A historic postcard of Chicago's Lake Shore Drive
A vintage postcard, showing Lake Shore Drive as it once was.

The opening of Lake Shore Drive created accessibility to the Astor Street District – a small section of today’s Gold Coast neighborhood that still exudes the same old-world charm that existed nearly 150 years ago.

Historic homes line the streets in Chicago's Astor Street District in Chicago's Gold Coast
Today, historic Astor Street is lined with beautiful homes, towering trees and perfect landscaping.

The City’s Elite Head North 

Palmer didn’t build a fancy department store or hotel (yes, he’s that Palmer of Chicago’s famous Palmer House hotel), but instead constructed something a little more personal – a 42-room mansion that looked like a legit castle and took up an entire block of Lake Shore Drive. Palmer and his wife Bertha lived in the mansion, which had a staff of 26 servants, and watched as their wealthy friends followed in their footsteps. 

Soon, grand mansions were popping up all along Lake Shore Drive, including additional homes built by Palmer and then rented or sold to wealthy businessmen. From lumber tycoons to the Goodman Theater’s namesake and even Abraham Lincoln’s son, the north side of Chicago was quickly becoming the neighborhood of the who’s who of Chicago. 

The Original North-Sider 

Now there was one northside resident who actually beat Palmer and his pals to the Gold Coast. It was Catholic Archbishop Patrick Feehan, who first quietly lived in Gold Coast just two years before Chicago’s wealthiest residents moved north. 

His home – the oldest in all of Gold Coast – still stands. The Archdiocese Mansion is still operational at 1555 North State Parkway and has welcomed guests including Pope John Paul II and Franklin D Roosevelt. However, the last two Cardinals have refused to reside in the mansion, due to the optics of living in such an opulent setting. 

Chicago's Gold Coast’s oldest home – the Archdiocese Mansion
Gold Coast’s oldest home – the Archdiocese Mansion – has served the Catholic church for over 150 years.

Rumor has it, the church will be listing the historic mansion soon. All you need is an estimated $15 million and some wicked chimney-cleaning skills (there are 19 of them!) and the joint is yours. 

History Still Stands 

A plethora of historic homes and buildings still stand in Gold Coast. You could spend a whole weekend exploring the neighborhood; hunting for the brass historical markers and googling architectural details. 

The Charnely-Persky House is just a stone’s throw from the ground Palmer’s mansion stood on. Designed by architectural icon Louis Sullivan, with contributions by then apprentice, Frank Lloyd Wright (whoa right?!), it now serves as a museum and the headquarters of the Society of Architectural Historians. Design aficionados, take note…this is must-see. 

The historic Charnely-Persky House, located in Chicago's Gold Coast
Take a tour of the Charnely-Persky House and take in every incredible detail.

Other notable residences include the August Warner House; an 1884-build that was saved from demolition in 2012. It was restored on the outside and reimagined on the inside into an insanely breathtaking home. It sold in 2018 for a cool $4.3 million. 

Another one of my favorite historic properties is the Patterson-McCormick mansion, which is located on the corner of Burton and Astor. The founder of the Chicago Tribune, and former mayor of Chicago, Joseph Medill, actually built the home for his daughter and her husband. Pretty swanky gift, right? It was divided up into condominiums in the late 70s and its most recent celeb-resident was the Smashing Pumpkin’s Billy Corgan. Units run about $1.3 million…a small price to pay for your own slice of Chicago history. 

The historic Patterson-McCormick mansion, located in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood
The Patterson-McCormick mansion was once a single home, but today is home to several condominiums.

There are plenty of “ordinary” homes still standing in Gold Coast that date back to the late 1800s. Today, you can take a walk down the quiet streets just off Lake Shore Drive and see Potter Palmer’s handiwork, adorned with historical placards bearing his name and historic status.  

Beautiful historic homes in the Astor Street District in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood.
Century-old and picturesque! Gold Coast’s historically preserved homes set a tone of elegance up and down its residential streets.

High-Rise Development 

It is Chicago, so we know that eventually, developers were going to begin looking up toward the sky. As early as the 1910s, demand for apartments hit the Gold Coast and multi-story buildings were being erected, dwarfing their neighboring mansions. 

By this time, the Gold Coast was an established neighborhood that was still luring wealthy Chicagoans north. The more demand, the denser the Gold Coast grew. But, even the Gold Coast wasn’t immune to the effects of the Great Depression. Development slowed substantially through the end of World War II and then played a swift game of catch up. 

The 1950s and 60s saw a wave of new development and with it, the destruction of some historic homes. In fact, Palmer’s 42-room mansion was demolished in 1950 to make way for high-rise apartments. 

Thankfully, concerned residents stepped in to ensure that as the Gold Coast grew, it didn’t leave its cherished history in the past.  

Preserving Gold Coast 

By the end of the 1970s, the Gold Coast had two historic designations under its belt. The Astor Street District was declared a Chicago Landmark and the Gold Coast Historic District (basically, the entire neighborhood) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Today, the neighborhood’s zoning ordinances do not mess around. The focus on maintaining Gold Coast’s historic character is front and center with restrictions focused on keeping the scale, density and congestion in check. Sorry mega-developers, no more high-rises in the heart of Gold Coast. 

Gold Coast Today 

Take a stroll around the Gold Coast today, and it’s easy to imagine what the neighborhood was like a hundred years ago. History hasn’t been erased; it’s been perfectly preserved and is one of Gold Coast’s most brag-worthy qualities. 

But, enough about the past. I’m ready to talk about what makes the Gold Coast of today the neighborhood people still aspire to live in.  

Treasured Tranquility

In a city of 2.6 million people, finding a neighborhood with an air of tranquility does not come easy. But as you enter the Gold Coast, you can feel it. Just steps off of Lake Shore Drive, you’ll discover quiet streets that look straight out of a storybook. Trees arch across the street, forming a canopy of green leaves and shaded sidewalks. Neighbors take leisurely strolls, with dogs and scooter-wielding children in tow. And, there’s an unexpectedly friendly and welcoming vibe in this ultra high-class ‘hood. 

Historic Victorian homes in the Astor District in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood
Iron fencing and railings are a trademark of Gold Coast and add to its lavish but approachable quality.

Venture off those quaint streets and onto Lake Shore Drive to discover Gold Coast’s high-rise apartments. They line the lakefront, but you won’t find the same ultra-modern skyscrapers that fill other neighborhood skylines like Lakeshore East and South Loop

Instead, Gold Coast’s apartments are vintage, with architectural details that you just don’t get when you live in a newly constructed building. Think brick and limestone exteriors, art-deco touches and shining gold doors that welcome you home each day. 

A view of The Deco Apartments in Chicago's fantastic Gold Coast neighborhood
The Deco Apartments stand tall in Gold Coast on Lake Shore Drive.

Take Me To Oak Street 

The Gold Coast is a luxury consumer’s haven and Oak Street is the destination for high-end shopping. The shops you’ll pass by as you cruise down the block of Oak Street between Michigan Avenue and Rush Street are mind-boggling. Grab your wallet or best window-shopping shoes and lay your eyes upon: Tom Ford, Christian Louboutin, Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel, Harry Winston and Hermès, just to name a few. 

Venture just south of Oak Street along Rush to Walton to find even more retail treasures like Versace and Dior. If those luxury brands aren’t exactly your speed, no worries. More attainable brands call this shopping district home too. I’m talking about Lululemon, Patagonia, Madewell, Frye, Warby Parker and Athleta. Take my money, guys! 

Oak Street is also a paradise for brides-to-be. Grab your squad and visit the five bridal shops in just a one-block radius. Whether at iconic Vera Wang Bride or newcomer BHLDN, I promise you’ll have a fairytale-like day being pampered by the pros. 

Gateway To The Magnificent Mile

The nearly three-quarter stretch of fantastic shopping along Chicago’s Michigan Avenue begins (or ends, depending on where you start!) in the Gold Coast. 

The north end of Michigan Avenue actually empties into the neighborhood in true “we aren’t in Kansas anymore” style. The legendary Drake Hotel, with all its gold and black art-deco architecture and winking doormen, is a sure sign you’ve stumbled into the Gold Coast. Lucky you! 

The Drake Hotel in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood
The iconic Drake Hotel fills an entire city block on Michigan Avenue and Walton.

If you’re looking to make a day of shopping the Miracle Mile, I suggest kicking it off with lunch in Gold Coast (in the summer, go to Whispers on Oak Street Beach and devour the Ahi Tuna Nachos), then head to the corner of Walton Street and Michigan Avenue to begin your shopping spree. 

In true Gold Coast fashion, the retailers along this stretch are high-end and ready to help you splurge on that something extra-special. Louis Vuitton to Gucci to BVLGARI…get ready to drool and drop some dough.

Italian jeweler, BVLGARI's storefront in Chicago's Gold Coast
Italian jeweler, BVLGARI, is located on Michigan Avenue just south of Gold Coast.

You’ll also find Bloomingdales on the corner of Walton and Michigan and a sea of retailers in the eleven blocks that follow. You can spy the famed Water Tower Place just down the street and everything from Lush to Zara to Sephora and a bazillion other shops in the blocks that stretch beyond it. 

Bloomingdales, on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Walton
Find your way to Bloomingdales, on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Walton. 

Conveniences 

Gold Coast’s residents can’t exactly buy groceries at Harry Winston, and a girl’s gotta eat, right? No worries, this dreamy neighborhood has you covered with everyday conveniences too. Historic preservation means you’re not going to see a Super Target opening its doors next to one of Palmer’s historic buildings. But, there are grocery and drug store options both in the ‘hood and just a hair outside of it too. 

  • Potash Market: A small, chic local grocery with an incredible deli. Located at 152 N Clark in the northwest corner of Gold Coast and at 875b State Street in the southern part of Gold Coast. 
  • Jewel Osco: Full-service grocery store on the corner of Clark and Division. 
  • Aldi: Discount-grocery just 3 blocks west of Gold Coast on the corner of Wells and Division. 
  • Whole Foods: This organic favorite is just a half-mile south of the Oak Street shopping district on Huron and Dearborn. 
  • CVS: Pharmacy conveniently located on State and Division. 
  • Walgreens: This pharmacy and convenience store has two locations just a smidge outside of Gold Coast. One at Division and Dearborn and another at State and Walton. 
The view looking south on Michigan Avenue, with Water Tower Place and Willis Tower in sight
The view looking south on Michigan Avenue, with Water Tower Place and Willis Tower in sight.

Gold Coast Rental Properties 

Ready to move to Chicago’s Gold Coast? Me too! Let one of our leasing agents take you on a tour of the best apartments in Gold Coast and I promise, you’ll be sold. Here are a few of team HotSpot’s favorites: 

Chestnut Place

This building gives you the best of what the Gold Coast has to offer – a quiet corner that’s right in the midst of all the action. This high-rise was built in the 1980s and underwent a remodel in 2017, so you get vintage-vibes on the outside and brand-new and beautiful on the inside. 

A view of an interior at Chestnut Street Apartments in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood
A little vintage, a little modern – Chestnut Place has it all, including incredible views.

Located on the corner of State and Chestnut, you’ve got everything you want within walking distance. The Chicago CTA station is just two blocks south, making this one of the best apartments in Gold Coast for downtown Chicago commuters. 

Shopping and green space are minutes away too. Walk four blocks east to shopping on Michigan Avenue or head a block west for a peaceful stroll through Washington Park. All of Gold Coast’s treasures, including its best restaurants, are just a 5-minute walk north. 

The Sinclair

If you’re searching for an apartment on Chicago’s north side and can’t decide if the Gold Coast or Old Town is the best neighborhood for you, The Sinclair gives you both. Located on LaSalle and Division, this luxury mid-rise apartment building straddles two of the best neighborhoods in the city. 

This building opened in 2017. It’s new and it shows! The units are sooo pretty – sparkling white kitchens with quartz countertops, gray flooring and gigantic windows that give you all the natural light you can handle. The amenities are totally swank too – a shiny new fitness center, game room and co-working spaces that feel like they belong in a high-end hotel. 

Let’s talk convenience: Jewel-Osco is actually attached to The Sinclair. That means no trudging through the snow to get your groceries in the middle of wintery January. And, the CTA Red Line runs right outside The Sinclair with the Clark/Division station literally steps outside its doors. 

You’re learning all about what the Gold Coast offers, but what about Old Town? While Gold Coast was built by Chicago’s wealthy elite, Old Town was built by hippie, musicians and a whole lotta love. Curious? Read all about it in our Ultimate Guide to Old Town

Elm Street Plaza

I’ve got a Gold Coast secret to share. Elm Street Plaza, a 33-story high-rise in the center of Gold Coast was just remodeled and is ready to welcome you home. The building was constructed in 1976, but don’t worry – there’s not a hint of shag carpet or avocado-colored countertops to be seen. These units are fresh, modern and functional.  

An interior view of a living space at Elm Street Plaza in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood
Elm Street Plaza was built in 1976 and renovated in 2020.

The biggest bonus of all: there’s a renovated pool deck that I’m sure is every resident’s happy spot during those extra hot summer days. 

Live at Elm Street Plaza and you’re right around the corner from Gold Coast’s most delicious restaurants and very best shopping. Better yet, all those things that make everyday life easier are super close too. Walgreens and CVS are a quick walk down the block. Need your morning coffee fix? Cruise down to Starbucks – at a swift “get me my morning coffee” pace, you’ll be there in 47 seconds. 

State and Chestnut

Move into State and Chestnut and you might stay put for a while. Renters at this upscale apartment building in Gold Coast gush about the beautiful units and feel spoiled by the amenities. But, it’s the incredible staff that places this building in another league. From the front desk staff to concierge to maintenance crew, you’ll feel like you have a built-in extended family at State and Chestnut. 

The location, on the corner of State and Chestnut (makes sense, right?), puts you a couple-minute walk from just about anything you need, including food, transit, Washington Park and shopping. This building is on the newer side – built in 2015 – and is a high-rise with 35 floors of views, including a peek of Lake Michigan from the east-facing units and rooftop deck. 

The State and Chestnut developers did good when they decided to dedicate the top floor to amenities. A pool, gas fire pit, and lots of room for lounging in the sun welcome you on the outside. Inside, you’ve got lounge space with floor-to-ceiling windows that flood the space with light during the day and give you posh nighttime views of the lit-up city at night. 

And finally, if you want to spoil your pup, this is the place to be. Finding dog-friendly apartments in Gold Coast isn’t too hard, but you don’t always find an apartment that actually caters to your favorite furry friend. State and Chestnut has an outdoor dog run and dog spa on the 7th floor. Your pup is going to love its new high-brow digs. 

One East Delaware

High-rise living in the Gold Coast never looked soooooo goooood! One East Delaware is another throwback that’s been remodeled and this one’s gonna blow you away. Built in 1989, and remodeled in 2008 this beauty is 37 floors of luxury apartment living at its finest. Located in the south part of Gold Coast, it’s close to everything, including the CTA Chicago station. 

The units are sleek and modern with charcoal gray finishes throughout, which I love. Plank flooring and the dark charcoal kitchen cabinets are my favorite design features, but the in-unit washer and dryer and walk-in closets will have you saying “yes!” to this building.

A downtown view from One East Delaware in Gold Coast
Sneak a peek at that downtown view from One East Delaware in Gold Coast.

One East Delaware’s crazy-awesome amenities are all about fun. An outdoor terrace not only has a pool but a theater wall too. Yes, you can watch Sunday football from your unicorn floatie. What more could you want? 

61 Banks Street

If you’re looking for an apartment in Gold Coast, 61 Banks Street is a must-see. The location, on Lake Shore Drive and Banks Street, is in the historic Astor Street District, my very favorite spot in the whole neighborhood. 

This building is anything but historic though. In fact, it was built in 2019, making it one of the newest apartments in the Gold Coast. It stands at just 8 floors (remember those zoning ordinances?), and only has 58 units. 

61 Banks Street has captured the sense of tranquility that this part of Gold Coast is so known for. The building just feels so…peaceful. The design of the shared spaces, as well as the units, has a minimalist vibe, but also feels warm and inviting. Think marble, woodgrain, velvet and leather and tied together with an air of sophistication that’s just so Gold Coast. 

New construction means big, bright windows, both in the apartments and amenity spaces. Head to the outdoor terrace and you’ll

feel like you’re on vacation at an ocean-side resort. It’s perfectly landscaped and has unobstructed views of the lake that are so pretty, you’ll be glad you’re working from home now! 

Looking for a bite to eat in the Gold Coast? You might think a neighborhood this wealthy only offers up fine dining but nope. The restaurants in Gold Coast will surprise you and keep you coming back from more. 

The Best Restaurants in Gold Coast

Best Upscale: Maple and Ash 

Never been to Maple and Ash? Go! Located on State and Maple, this modern and chic restaurant touts itself as a steakhouse and yes, the steak is fabulous. But, it’s so much more. First and foremost, the service cannot be beaten. This place feels a little fancy, but the staff is so welcoming that you immediately feel right at home. Reserve a table at Maple and Ash for a special occasion and go all out with cocktails, one of the butcher’s reserve steaks and of course, a big old slice of chocolate cake. 

Maple and Ash restaurant located in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood
Maple and Ash gives you an authentic dining experience and to-die-for-bites, plate after plate.

Best Fusion: Velvet Taco

Three words: yum, yum, yummmmm. Velvet Taco, located at 1110 State Street, touts itself as “tacos without borders”, which means they put almost anything inside a tortilla and call it a taco. And, it is SO GOOD. Super hipster and incredibly delicious, work up an appetite and go grab a few of my faves: chicken and waffles, the Nashville hot tofu and shrimp and grits. They also have a weekly “WTF” (weekly taco feature) that’ll keep you coming back to see what they’ve dreamed up next. 

Velvet Taco in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood
Hungry at 2 a.m.? Velvet Taco has super late-night hours for those middle of the night cravings. 

Best Italian: Carmine’s 

Carmine’s is one of those old school Italian joints that is big, bustling and lick-your-fingers good. Located in Gold Coast’s restaurant triangle off Rush Street (a.k.a the Viagra Triangle…an unfortunate nickname keeps um, popping up), the location can only be beat by the huge menu and even larger portions. Grab a group of friends, snag a seat on the patio on a balmy summer evening and crack a bottle of wine. Then, order family style. My go-to dishes: meatballs (they’re as big as your head), veal parm and bolognese. The homemade pasta is melt-in-your-mouth delish. 

Carmine's Italian located in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood
Carmine’s on Rush Street serves up traditional Italian favorites in a classic setting.

Best Steak: Gibsons

Have a hankering for a steak dinner that’ll knock your socks off? Head to Gibsons. This classic Chicago favorite is also located in the triangle, and it’s the kind of place folks go to over and over again because it’s just that good! Knowledgeable staff, great atmosphere (live music if you’re lucky) and consistently delicious food. Ya gotta get a steak, and splurge for a few sides to share as well; I swear the twice baked potato can feed a family of 4 for days. Cheers! 

Best Bar Food: Hopsmith Tavern 

So, Gold Coast is, well, kinda fancy, but sometimes you just want bar food. Pop into Hopsmith Tavern, on Division between Dearborn and State, and get ready for a pleasant surprise – they are so much more than nachos and wings. Okay, yes, there are nachos (and dang, they are good!), but you’ve got to try their out-of-the-bar-food-box dishes. Order up one of their ten different kinds of tacos and you will not be disappointed. Hit up their weekend brunch too, and nosh on fresh donuts right out of the fryer. 

Best Brunch: Margeaux Brasserie

I’m going to get fancy on you again. For an absolutely delightful brunch experience, walk yourself to the Waldorf Astoria on Walton Street and head to the third floor to Margeaux Brasserie. The restaurant is as upscale and luxurious as the Waldorf itself, so be sure to wear your Sunday best and be prepared to drop some dough (although brunch is way more affordable than dinner). You haven’t had French toast until you’ve tried their brioche version. No one will bat an eye if you lick your plate…it’s that good. 

A view of the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Chicago's Gold Coast
The Waldorf Astoria on Walton Street, home to Margeaux Brasserie and Petit Margeaux Cafe. 

Gold Coast Bars and Nightlife

Best Craft Cocktails: LuxBar

LuxBar is located right across from Gibsons, in the triangle, making it a great spot to grab a nightcap post-dinner. The interior is totally Gold Coast – all art-deco’d out with black and white marble, herringbone wood flooring and gold details galore. The outdoor seating is awesome too, but it’s the cocktails that keep luring me back. They know how to do the classics right, and even have a “build your own Manhattan” option. But the seasonal cocktails are where it gets fun. LuxBar, if you’re reading this, please add the Honeydew Highball to your classic menu, thank you very much! 

LuxBar on a summer day in Chicago's Gold Coast
Two-story LuxBar, on Rush Street, is a terrific spot for summer cocktails.

Best Blind Date: Sparrow 

Did you swipe right? Take a deep breath and prepare to meet your future spouse (hey, you never know!) at Sparrow. This place is perfect for a quick cocktail, or several slow sippers if the night goes well. Located on the corner of State and Elm, it’s adorably ideal for a date night. Sparrow is small, but not too small. Dim, but not dark. Always busy but not too loud. There aren’t any televisions playing ESPN (am I the only one that finds that so annoying?!) and they don’t serve food so there’s no pressure of eating a whole meal with a stranger. 

The exterior of Sparrow on Elm Street in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood
Don’t be fooled by Sparrow’s unassuming exterior – this place is a hidden treasure! 

Best Dive Bar: The Lodge Tavern 

You’ll walk into The Lodge Tavern and wonder if you’ve walked into a different neighborhood. The Lodge is a good ol’ beer and peanuts-in-the-shell kind of bar that feels like it belongs more in Old Town than in Gold Coast. And, I am so here for it! Locals and visitors alike love this place. Belly up to the bar, order a cold beer and admire the decor that definitely has not changed since the Lodge opened in 1957. You just might become a regular! 

Gold Coast Parks and Green Space

Oak Street Beach 

If you’re new to Chicago, you’re probably in awe over the city’s urban beaches that pepper downtown. Only in this city can you have your feet in the sand one minute and firmly on concrete in the heart of downtown the next. 

Having a beach within walking distance of home is something that very few midwesterners can say is theirs. But no matter where you live in the Gold Coast, Oak Street Beach is a quick walk from home. 

Sunny blue skies welcome you to a day of fun at Oak Street Beach in the Gold Coast
Sunny blue skies welcome you to a day of fun at Oak Street Beach in the Gold Coast.

Oak Street Beach has all the makings of a perfect summer day, plus a skyline view of downtown that’s absolutely instagramable. Cool off with a dip in Lake Michigan (safety first – there are lifeguards on duty), gather a group for a game of beach volleyball or just spend hours soaking up the sun. 

Parks and Play Space 

Goudy Square Playlot

As I’ve mentioned, the Gold Coast is dense, but luckily, there are some designated parks in the neighborhood. If you have little ones, you’ll love this: off Astor Street, you’ll find a hidden treasure named Goudy Square Playlot. This gated playground is as charming as the neighborhood that surrounds it. Your children will love the modern play equipment and whimsical limestone drinking fountain with a child-sized turtle taking a sip.

Washington Park 

Washington Park is on the southern part of Gold Coast, just a block south of Oak Street between Clark and Dearborn. It’s nearly three acres of simple green lawn, shady trees and a bubbling fountain. Nicely landscaped with flowers from spring till fall, it’s an ideal spot for a quick reconnection with nature in the middle of the city. 

Sunny and green Washington Park in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood
Grab a book and blanket and head to Washington Park to squander away the afternoon in the best way.

Lakefront Trail 

Of course, the shoreline also has the Lakefront Trail that runs along Oak Street Beach, and beyond. With four lanes for walkers, runners, bikers and more, it’s the best spot to complete your morning run with a view. 

Don’t forget about our neighboring neighborhood of Lincoln Park either. Endless green space is yours along Gold Coast’s north border, along with the Lincoln Park Zoo and North Avenue Beach

Arts & Entertainment 

If you’re all shopped out and looking for a bit of culture, the Gold Coast has a couple of treasures you’ll want to check out. 

Newberry Library 

This place is so much more than an ordinary library. Located on the northside of Washington Park, the library first opened in 1887, and has been a community fixture ever since. 

The Newberry is a research library, with niche collections, manuscripts on Chicago history and access to databases brimming with information. If you’re an academic, the Newberry Library just may be your Gold Coast happy place. 

If you’re a non-scholar (raises hand), visit the Newberry to take in the history. Their rare books collection can be appreciated, even by non-readers, and marveling at the architecture is a treat too. They also have ever-changing exhibits with fascinating subjects like “Hamilton: The History Behind the Musical”. The best part? It’s all free! 

Gold Coast's Newberry Library next to Washington Park in Chicago
Open and free to the public, the Newberry Library also hosts weddings and other private events.

Chicago History Museum

Okay, technically, Lincoln Park claims the Chicago History Museum as its own, but since it borders the two neighborhoods, it’s on my must-do list in Gold Coast too. Museums feel like they’re just for tourists, but if you’re a Chicagoan and haven’t been to this museum, you’ve got to go. 

Located at the northwest corner of Clark and North Avenue, the museum first opened in 1932, after occupying another site that fell to the Chicago Fire. Several permanent exhibitions focus on the history of the city and cover everything from the Civil Rights movement to the Cubs finally breaking the World Series curse. 

The artifacts in their collection could make the Smithsonian jealous – a Norman Rockwell, original L train car and even the bed that president Lincoln died in, just to name a few. The museum is family-friendly as well; be sure to get a photo of your kids squishing themselves inside the life-size Chicago hot dog (yes, I’m serious!). 

A view of the Chicago History Museum
The Chicago History Museum should be a required outing for every Chicagoan – make the trip!

Gold Coast Demographics

Gold Coast’s demographics tell the story of this small community by the numbers: 

  • Population: 7,565 
  • Median Age of Population: 36
  • Total Households: 4,643
  • Average people per Household: 2
  • Households with children: 8.9% 
  • Owner-Occupied: 42.6%
  • Renter-Occupied: 57.4% 
  • Average Household Income: $149,088 annually
  • Median Household Income: $95,162 annually

Gold Coast Neighbors Association

You can’t put a price on an active neighborhood association; it’s such a gift to have neighbors who love their neighborhood so much, they dedicate their time to making it the best possible place to live. And, it’s no surprise that the Gold Coast has an active group of passionate residents. 

The Gold Coast Neighbors Association’s mission is to “build a sense of community and enhance the quality of life for all Gold Coast residents”. They serve as “a forum for community issues and historical education, promote safety, preservation and beautification and foster neighborhood friendship”. 

The association gets credit for keeping the magic alive in the Gold Coast. Without a strong voice from residents, who knows what the neighborhood would look like today. They keep it beautiful, preserve its history and are the neighborhood’s biggest and strongest advocates. 

They do have a little fun too. Each year, they hold a Halloween event in Ghouly Park (makes sense, right?!) that looks like a scene right out of a movie. Magician and puppeteers entertain the kids while live music fills the neighborhood. Come dressed to impress in your Halloween costume! 

The best association fundraiser of the year is the “Evening on Astor”, also dubbed the world’s most elegant block party. So Gold Coast, right?! Over 1,000 neighbors attend this annual event, which gathers folks together on Astor Street for food, drinks, music and community.

Schools in Gold Coast (K-12)

  • Latin School of Chicago – a JK-12 private school, located near North Avenue and Clark. With an enrollment of about 1,200 students, this school has a liberal arts focus and boasts a student to teacher ratio of 9:1.    
  • The Ogden International School of Chicago – the K-4 east campus of this school sits on Walton Street in the center of Gold Coast. Enrollment is open to anyone, but residents within its boundaries, including all of Gold Coast, have priority. 
  • Salazar – A Pre-K-8 public school with a focus on dual-language learning. Located just outside Gold Coast on Wendell Street, it has just over 300 students and no neighborhood boundaries for enrollment. 

Parking

If you need to park your car in the Gold Coast, come prepared. On-street parking is metered and this site makes it easy to find spaces. 

But, you may want to save yourself a headache, and endless loops around the block waiting for a spot to open, by pre-booking your parking at a public lot or ramp. ParkWiz is my go-to and has saved me endless hours hunting for open parking at a decent rate.  

Public Transit

Like most of Chicago’s downtown neighborhoods, Gold Coast is transit-friendly. No, there isn’t a CTA station smack in the middle of the historic district (that wouldn’t be so charming, right?), but here are options to get you where you need to be, car-free. 

If you work downtown, the CTA Red Line will get you from Gold Coast, south to the Loop in less than 15 minutes. 

The Red Line skirts through Gold Coast up State Street, then heads west on Division. You can catch the train at the Chicago Station, on Chicago and State, or at the Clark/Division Station. Both are a quick walk for Gold Coast residents, but if the winter wind is howling, buses run throughout the neighborhood as well. 

A map of Chicago's CTA Red Line, running through the Gold Coast

Highway Access

Gold Coast’s location, tucked away from it all, also means it’s also tucked away from major highway access. 

One great convenience though, is that you can get on Lakeshore Drive (Highway 41) within minutes no matter where you are in Gold Coast, making it easy to buzz up north and south along the edge of the city. 

If you’re wanting to really get out of the city, find a good audiobook and weave your way through River North and River West to I-90. I’m being dramatic…it’s less than 1.5 – 2.5 miles to the on-ramp and an easy peasy drive. 

A map of highway access around Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood

Well – are you ready to call the Gold Coast home? This high-brow but oh-so-approachable neighborhood is calling and our team of Chicago’s best leasing agents is ready to find you your dream apartment in Gold Coast. 

Give us a buzz and start packing! 

Blog Author Signature: Dorothy
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