Discover some of the top neighborhood attractions in Chicago, Illinois, from niche museums to local hangouts.
Chicago is, at a glance, a cosmopolitan city brimming with history, world-class culture and stand-out dining – not to mention fiercely loyal sports fanatics. Illinois’ largest city is situated on scenic Lake Michigan and consistently draws in visitors from around the world. While you can certainly fill your itinerary with any number of major attractions in the heart of the city, you can also find tons of under-the-radar things to do and see in the city’s diverse neighborhoods. Discover great food, local culture and hidden hangouts in these three nearby neighborhoods.
A World of Museums in Hyde Park
Centered around the picturesque University of Chicago campus, Hyde Park is brimming with arts and culture including the DuSable Museum of African American History, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, Oriental Institute Museum and the Smart Museum of Art. One of the neighborhood’s most popular attractions is the Museum of Science and Industry, boasting waterfront views in the heart of lovely Jackson Park. Stoke your curiosity through state-of-the-art, hands-on exhibits that explore everything from natural sciences to technology and history. Tour a real World War II-era submarine, see a tornado up close in the Science Storms exhibit, and catch an exclusive documentary at the museum’s Giant Dome Theater, a magnificent curved movie screen towering five stories high.
Aerial view of the Museum of Science and Industry alongside the Lake Michigan shoreline
Mexican Heritage Meets Cool Nightlife in Pilsen
Situated between Chinatown and Little Italy, Pilsen’s Mexican American history is the heart of this culturally rich locale. Here, you’ll find the National Museum of Mexican Art’s 10,000-piece permanent collection spanning 3,000 years of Mexican art. Peruse folk art, photography, paintings and textiles by historic, famous and lesser-known Mexican artists – all for free. Explore Pilsen’s acclaimed dining and nightlife scene at local favorites such as Dusek’s Board & Beer, a 2019 Michelin-rated restaurant featuring an all-day menu from brunch to late night. Looking for live entertainment? Head upstairs to Thalia Hall where stand-up comedy and musical acts perform in a circa-1892 venue. Thalia Hall has a fantastic hidden bar in the basement called the Punch House. Order its liquor-filled signature punch and check out the themed DJ nights featuring everything from Japanese funk music to 1970s classic rock.
Examining the incredible work on display at the National Museum of Mexican Art
From Historic to Modern in Logan Square
Logan Square, a hip neighborhood on the city’s northwest side, is known for its bike-friendly streets and diverse bars and restaurants. Logan, Kedzie and Humboldt Boulevards make up the Logan Boulevard National Historic District. Take a stroll along picturesque streets lined with greystone homes dating to the turn of the 20th century. Then, stop at Lost Lake, one of the area’s most popular bars – the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation named it 2018’s Best Cocktail Bar in America. The tropical-themed watering hole features a menu of tiki cocktails and Asian-inspired food. Order a plate of pork dumplings and wash it down with a drink served in a real pineapple. The Mango Mu Mu or Tic-Tac-Taxi rum drink are tasty choices.
A festive evening at the colorful Lost Lake cocktail bar
Getting to Chicago is easy. Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and Chicago Midway (MDW) both offer plenty of flights from destinations around the world. Rental cars are available, but you may find it easier to use Chicago’s network of convenient public transit options.