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6 Must-See Chicago Neighborhoods and How to Visit


6 Must-See Chicago Neighborhoods and How to Visit
Hi, I'm Zoë!

Zoë Smith is a British travel writer, editor, and digital content creator who has lived, worked, and traveled over six continents, and is currently based near Nantes, France. She has written for Rough Guides, CNN, and Culture Trip, and is digital editor at FrenchEntrée.

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A melting pot of midwestern life, Chicago is home to 200 neighborhoods, each with its own unique culture and history. For a comprehensive introduction to the Windy City, here’s our pick of Chicago’s most interesting districts.


The Loop

Skyscrapers, sculptures, and more.

A sightseeing tour of Chicago has to start in Chicago Loop, one of the largest business districts in the US. Chicago’s downtown is replete with photo opportunities, including the famous Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower); the Cloud Gate sculpture by Anish Kapoor in Millennium Park; and the views from Chicago Riverwalk. Additional highlights include the theater district, Grand Park, and museums such as the Art Institute of Chicago and the Field Museum.

Chinatown

Food, markets, and lively festivals.

Populated by Chinese immigrants in the late 19th century, Chinatown remains one of the most vibrant districts in Chicago. The small quarter is crammed with Chinese restaurants, shops, and karaoke bars, making it an atmospheric spot for a walking tour, especially during the evening. For an unforgettable experience, visit during annual festivals such as Chinese New Year, Temple Street Market Festival, or the Autumn Moon Festival.

"The Bean" is one of Chicago's must-see landmarks, located in the Loop. Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small / Viator

Magnificent Mile

Shopping, sites, and top attractions.

The aptly named Magnificent Mile is Chicago’s most upmarket shopping district, stretching north of the river from The Loop. Whether you opt to explore on foot, by bike, or on a Segway, you’re guaranteed to see some of the Windy City’s most recognizable sights. Look out for the Water Tower, John Hancock Center, and Tribune Tower; enjoy 360-degree views from Chicago Observatory; visit the Chicago Sports Museum or the Museum of Contemporary Art; or shop at the city’s premier boutiques. 

Hyde Park

Parks, well-known museums, and more.

The South Side neighbourhood of Hyde Park is home to the University of Chicago, the lakeside Jackson Park, and a cluster of renowned museums—most notably the Museum of Science and Industry. Along with its distinguished architecture and cultural institutions, it also has another claim to fame—its the former home of Barack Obama. 

Visit the University of Chicago campus in Hyde Park, the former home of Barack Obama. Photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock

River North

Great dining, galleries, and kid-friendly appeal.

On the north bank of the Chicago River, River North is also known as the Gallery District, as its home to America’s largest concentration of art galleries outside of Manhattan. The former warehouse district boasts landmarks such as Marina City; museums such as Chicago Children’s Museum and the Richard H. Driehaus Museum; and a thriving nightlife scene—the area around Hubbard Street is lined with elegant wine bars, VIP nightclubs, and fine dining restaurants.  

Lincoln Park

Affluent, attractive, and on the shores of Lake Michigan.

North of The Loop, along the shores of Lake Michigan, Lincoln Park is one of Chicago’s most affluent residential neighborhoods. Stroll or cycle through Lincoln Park, visit Lincoln Park Zoo and the Chicago History Museum, or rent a paddleboat for a cruise around the South Pond.

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Hi, I'm Zoë!

Zoë Smith is a British travel writer, editor, and digital content creator who has lived, worked, and traveled over six continents, and is currently based near Nantes, France. She has written for Rough Guides, CNN, and Culture Trip, and is digital editor at FrenchEntrée.

Keep exploring
See all Chicago tours
333 tours & tickets
Things to do in Chicago
See all things to do in Chicago
Know Before You Go: Visiting Chicago in Winter
Know Before You Go: Visiting Chicago in Winter