Looking for the best neighborhoods in Chicago? You came to the right place!
I’m a lifelong local that has called the Windy City home for the past 30+ years. In that time, I’ve done my fair share of exploring the various Chicago neighborhoods in search of the most charming.
There’s no better way to make a choice on the best Chicago neighborhoods than chatting up a local Chicagoan who has been around the block. Literally, in this case.
So without further ado, here’s a roundup of the best neighborhoods in Chicago, Illinois. I hope this list is helpful, don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions that come to mind, I’m here to help.
Best Neighborhoods Chicago
10. Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park is named after one of America’s most famous presidents (I’m sure you’ve heard of good old Abe). It’s located on the northeast side of the city and is comprised of 60 acres of grassy wooded land, making it the biggest and most iconic park in the city.
Films such as “The Dark Knight” and “Transformers: Age of Extinction” were both filmed at many iconic architectural buildings from this area, further adding to its street cred as one of the best neighborhoods in Chicago.
This is a popular location for students, young professionals, and new families looking to settle down. The nearby DePaul University adds innovative energy to the location and many teachers and academics live here as well.
Locals love the well-landscaped trails, tranquil ponds, tree-lined streets, and close access to Lake Michigan provide green space in an otherwise industrial city.
The median cost for a home in this neighborhood is $392,840, which is $100,000+ more than the average median cost for the city of Chicago.
But many residents see this as a fair price to pay for the unparalleled access to natural, as well as an opportunity to own in a location that regularly sees an appreciation in value.
Another perk of this Chicago neighborhood is the Lincoln Park Zoo, a free attraction that’s open year-round for families to enjoy. The Lincoln Park Conservatory offers a warm, cozy greenhouse environment for the cold months, and Pequod’s Pizza is famously known for some of the best deep-dish pizzas and beers in town.
As such, this is often viewed as one of the best neighborhoods in Chicago for families.
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Lakeview, as the name suggests, is found at the edge of Lake Michigan in the north end of the city. Located near one of the most popular neighborhoods in Chicago, Lincoln Square, it’s a bit more affordable. The average cost of a home is $356,788, which may seem steep but is quite fair for the quality of life.
Fun is never in short supply in this charming Chicago neighborhood. From the boat-filled harbors on the beach to the historic Wrigellyview baseball stadium.
For entertainment, swing by the Second City comedy club or queer-friendly Boystown strip, there’s truly something for everyone to enjoy in this part of town.
Even with such rapid growth over the past few decades, Lakeview still manages to maintain a small neighborhood vibe, unlike other sprawling areas of the city.
This is one of the best Chicago neighborhoods for public transportation. The city’s most popular CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) Red and Brown line trains run through the neighborhood 24/7.
Lakeview attracts a younger crowd. After finishing college, new graduates often move to this area to keep the good times rolling.
While it was historically a quiet residential neighborhood, it’s now quite lively, which may not be best for those looking for peace and quiet.
I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention the disadvantages of this Chicago neighborhood. Chances are high that weekend evenings will be marked by (some rowdy) folks that drank a bit too much. College towns, yeah?
But if you still enjoy regular nights on the town, parties on the beach, and want access to a smattering of famous sports bars such as Sluggers or The Dugout Bar, then Lakeview is the place for you.
8. Logan Square
The west side of Chicago has seen a lot of development over the past decade, and Logan Square has emerged as one of the best neighborhoods for artists, musicians, bohemians, and young families.
Logan Square is a truly multicultural neighborhood, compromising of Ukrainian, Serbian, Mexican, and Puerto Rican influences that can be seen in the area’s food and culture.
It’s a great place to explore Chicago’s family-owned restaurants, with dishes like authentic tacos, tamales, and pupusas all within walking distance from each other.
New American restaurants have been popping up in the area as well, and they allow for fine dining without having to travel downtown.
It has also become a hub for music venues such as The Empty Bottle and The Logan Square Auditorium, where you can catch indie acts from up-and-coming musicians without spending an arm and a leg.
Despite the laid-back non-flashy atmosphere of this area, it’s one of the fastest-growing spots when it comes to renting and investing in a property. The current median cost of a home in this location is $405,149 and has reached even higher numbers in the past 5 years.
This is the best neighborhood for entry-level creatives and professionals who want to live near like-minded Chicagoans who are interested in art, music, and culture.
This is also one of the best neighborhoods in Chicago for nightlife. But if you’re into the calmer side of things, fret not.
Simply enjoying a walk along the 606 path or having a picnic near the square’s weekly farmer’s market are just a popular activity as the vibrant nightlife.
Pilsen is the perfect southside neighborhood for newcomers that provides easy access to downtown while maintaining a low-key residential vibe.
Like some of the other places mentioned on this list of the best neighborhoods in Chicago, this area attracts artists, young adults, and families.
The biggest draw to the area is the community feel and diversity. It’s a relatively affordable neighborhood with an average home price of $361,129.
However, housing prices has almost doubled in the past decade and aren’t showing signs of slowing anytime soon. It’s definitely a place to set down roots before the secret gets out any further.
Pilsen is one of the best neighborhoods in Chicago for regularly enjoying authentic Mexican food. Cantón Regio boasts some of the tastiest grilled meats and is a local favorite.
Art literally pours into the streets in Pilsen during the monthly art walk, where businesses and independent artists come together to create installations as well as sell their wares to the local creative community.
The Museum of Mexican Art lives in the heart of this innovative neighborhood, and the institution provides plenty of community events and initiatives alongside dazzling art exhibits from Central American and Latino American creatives. Pilsen is also a hop and a skip from Chicago’s museum campus, so there are endless opportunities to explore world-class art, science, and history collections.
Andersonville is historically a Swedish-centric neighborhood, lined with European-inspired homes, adorable historic flats, and boutique shops and restaurants that give it a unique old-time charm.
Brunch is considered sport in this popular Chicago neighborhood, with restaurants like Anne Sather’s and Svea hosting hour-long lines on the weekends.
Working professionals, couples, and families prefer this area for its calmer energy and and the slower-paced suburban feel. The average home costs $420,701, which makes this one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Chicago to purchase a home.
You’ll find cherished community-supported small businesses in this area, such as the Women & Children First independent book store and The Wooden Toy. Those who enjoy supporting local small shops will find plenty of interesting options without ever leaving the neighborhood.
This patch of town also has a handful of charming and cozy bars, such as Simon’s Tavern and Hopleaf Bar, for those looking to find a good time without having to travel far. This is one of the best neighborhoods in Chicago for those who likes a slower-paced life while enjoying local cuisine and cute shops.
5. Hyde Park
Hyde Park provided the grounds for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, is home to former president Barack Obama, and houses the prestigious University of Chicago.
Yet despite this (impressive) track record, it’s still one of the most affordable options on this list of the best neighborhoods in Chicago, with homes averaging $231,270.
This is largly due to the fact that it takes quite a bit of time to commute from this southside Chicago neighborhood up to the popular northside destinations, approximately 20 minutes.
Likewise, some of the surrounding neighborhoods may not feel safe enough for families, although Hyde Park itself is very well maintained.
However, there’s plenty to do in this area, including visiting the Museum of Science and Industry or enjoying Jackson Park, where cherry blossoms regularly bloom each spring. Beach lovers enjoy the less crowded shore scene at 63rd St. Beach as well as a scenic lakeshore trail.
Many Hyde Park residents are college students. And since U of C is one of the best Universities in the city, it regularly attracts academics, thought leaders, and other remarkable people that present and work at the university.
There’s no shortage of lectures and activities on the University campus that are open to the public, making it an ideal location for teachers, lifelong learners, or those wanting to expose their children to a stimulating academic environment.
4. Wicker Park
Wicker Park is the perfect Chicago neighborhood for those who want a little bit of everything. This former artist haven has exploded into one of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods and is filled with boutiques, vintage stores, craft cocktail bars, and excellent restaurants.
There are also plenty of laid-back yet late-night bars and dance parties along the strip of Milwaukee Ave, also known as “hipster highway”. While this area can be quite rowdy with shoppers or partiers, once you deviate onto the sidestreets, the neighborhood takes on a much calmer residential feeling.
Homes are cute and bright in this area of town, and the 3-flat brownstone is the most common dwelling in the neighborhood, many of which date back 100 years. This Ukranian-settled region eventually gave away to a younger creative crowd in the 1990s, but this community has been largely priced out by a wave of professionals in recent years.
For those who can afford to buy a place here, the average home costs $549,037. This provides you with instant access to the 24/7 Blue Line train, grocery stores, restaurants, and just about anything else you’d need within walking distance.
This is one of the best neighborhoods in Chicago for taking your car onto the city’s main highway, I-90, which can take you into the heart of the city in about 20 minutes with many interesting stops along the way.
Bridgeport is nestled directly under the Pilsen and Chinatown neighborhoods and has had a healthy influx of new residents in recent years. Most Chicagoans know this area as the best neighborhood for catching a White Sox game, and diehard fans grew up in the area’s modest homes.
With homes averaging $364,100, it can be a reasonable choice for those who want to be fairly close to the Loop without paying top dollar. Its crime rate has been high in the past, but new infrastructure has shifted a lot of the worrisome activity west into the neighboring McKinney community.
You can expect to see a diversity of people in Bridgeport, as the area has plenty of lineage from Irish, Chinese, African American, and Mexican communities. Many people were born and raised in this neighborhood, but there has been a consistent stream of transplants over the past decade.
This is one of the best neighborhoods in Chicago for getting a classic Chicago-style hotdog or indulging in some brisket barbecue. And heading to Chinatown for Dim Sum breakfast or a festive evening out is only a short trip away.
Don’t overlook the food scene in Bridgeport. It’s a great place to enjoy up-and-coming culinary hotspots along with tried-and-true traditions like the legendary Maxwell Street Polish without the northside crowds.
2. Rogers Park
Rogers Park is a far-north Chicago gem that is nestled along a calmer stretch of Lake Michigan. This area is known for its Pakistani, Indian, and Caribbean communities, which make for lively food options and worldly boutiques that feature wares that can’t be found elsewhere in Chicago.
More than 60 languages are reportedly spoken in this neighborhood alone! Which makes this location shine as the most successful multicultural area in town.
This is one of the best neighborhoods in Chicago for architecture buffs. The beautifully sculpted facades of the buildings paired with original vintage Otis elevators can transplant you 100 years back, and many of the local bars and restaurants reflect the same aesthetic.
The average home costs $209,864 in Rogers Park, so it’s a very accessible price point for young adults, families, and retirees.
Rogers Park is pretty far north, at the city’s boundary, where it meets with the popular suburb Evanston. While this means it can take quite a bit of time to make it into the city center, the beautiful Lakeshore Drive highway and ever-running Red Line train make it easy to zip up and down the coast and enjoy other parts of Chicago with ease.
1. The Gold Coast
No list of the best neighborhoods in Chicago is complete without mentioning this gem. The Gold Coast is the more posh side of Chicago and has the expensive real estate to prove it.
You’ll be privy to high-end shopping and a smattering of top-notch restaurants. There are plenty of historic mansions (including the Playboy Mansion) that line the neighborhood, peppered alongside phenomenal sections of landscaping and parks.
Executives, well-off retirees, and foreign investors have long considered this one of the best areas to live in Chicago. As such, the average home clocks in at $344,054 but many homes retail in the multi-millions due to its close proximity to the lake as well as downtown.
Those who relocate with a well-paying job could easily consider this one of the best places to live in Chicago, and it’d be hard to disagree.
The access to green spaces, amenities, and the nearby beach is definitely a perk, putting you at the center of the action in Chicago while providing a well-maintained and quiet residence.
List of the Best Neighborhoods in Chicago
In sum, here’s a quick list of the best neighborhoods in Chicago.
- The Gold Coast
- Rogers Park
- Wicker Park
- Hyde Park
- Logan Square
- Lincoln Park
Map of the best places to live in Chicago