Are you curious about where to stay in Chicago? Dive into our handpicked guide to uncover 12 of Chicago’s best areas.
Chicago, often referred to as the Windy City, is a captivating blend of urban sophistication and midwestern charm. With its iconic skyline, rich history, and diverse neighborhoods, it’s no wonder travelers from around the globe are drawn to its allure. As you plan your visit, one question might be at the forefront of your mind: Where to stay in Chicago? The answer isn’t straightforward, given the city’s vastness and the unique charm each neighborhood offers.
From the bustling downtown area of The Loop, known for its architectural marvels and cultural institutions, to the artsy vibes of Wicker Park, Chicago caters to every traveler’s whim and fancy. Whether you’re seeking the best areas in Chicago for nightlife, culture, or family-friendly activities, this guide promises to unveil them all.
But Chicago is more than just its popular tourist spots. It’s a city of neighborhoods, each with its distinct character. The serene parks of Lincoln Park, the historic streets of Hyde Park, or the trendy eateries of West Loop, the choices are endless. This guide aims to delve deep into these neighborhoods, offering insights on where to go in Chicago, the best accommodations, and local secrets that only a seasoned traveler or local would know.
As you gear up for your Chicago adventure, let this guide be your compass, pointing you to experiences that will make your trip truly memorable. Without further ado, here are 12 of the best places to stay in Chicago, IL.
Are you eager to find out where to stay in Chicago? As noted earlier, there’s no shortage of beautiful places in Chicago. From bustling downtown districts to serene lakeside retreats, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding where to stay in Chicago.
Are you looking for vibrant nightlife and trendy boutiques? Or would you prefer peaceful parks and historic landmarks? Whatever you’re planning, our guide is here to help you navigate your options. Here are 12 of the best places to stay in Chicago.
The Loop, often referred to as the epicenter of Chicago, is where the city’s energy is palpable. As you explore its streets, you’re immediately greeted by a skyline that tells tales of architectural marvels, from historic buildings to modern skyscrapers. It’s no wonder that many travelers, especially those wondering where to stay in Chicago for the first time, gravitate towards this dynamic neighborhood.
Walking along the Chicago Riverwalk is like stepping into a postcard, with the city’s iconic buildings reflecting off the water. For those who appreciate art, the Art Institute of Chicago is a treasure waiting to be explored, boasting a collection that spans centuries and continents. But it’s not all about the sights. The Loop is also a hub for shopping and dining, offering everything from upscale boutiques to local eateries that showcase Chicago’s most unique restaurants.
As the sun sets, the streets come alive with the sounds of laughter, music, and chatter. Theaters light up, inviting visitors to experience performances that resonate with Chicago’s rich cultural heritage.
If you’re seeking unique areas in Chicago, Illinois, The Loop offers a blend of the city’s past, present, and future. Without a doubt, it’s a top choice when deciding the best areas to stay in Chicago, IL.
Once an industrial heartland, West Loop has transformed into one of Chicago’s trendiest neighborhoods, drawing both locals and travelers with its vibrant atmosphere. As you meander through its streets, you’ll find a delightful mix of old warehouses converted into chic lofts, art galleries, and some of the city’s most sought-after restaurants.
Food enthusiasts will find themselves in a paradise here. West Loop is often hailed as the best place to eat in Chicago, with eateries that cater to every palate. From gourmet burgers to artisanal coffee shops, the choices are endless. And if you’re wondering where to go in Chicago for a taste of its diverse food scene, this neighborhood should be at the top of your list.
Aside from its gastronomic delights, West Loop is also a hub for art and culture. The neighborhood is dotted with galleries showcasing contemporary art, murals that color its alleyways, and events that celebrate the city’s rich artistic heritage. For those looking for the best places to stay in Chicago, IL, West Loop offers a range of accommodations, from luxury hotels to boutique stays, ensuring a memorable experience.
The neighborhood’s proximity to the city center, combined with its unique blend of history and modernity, makes West Loop a favorite among those seeking an authentic Chicago experience.
River North, with its pulsating energy and eclectic vibe, stands out as one of Chicago’s coolest neighborhoods. Located between the Chicago River and the Magnificent Mile, this area is a magnet for art enthusiasts, nightlife seekers, and food lovers alike.
The neighborhood boasts the highest concentration of art galleries in the U.S., outside of Manhattan. In River North, you’ll be captivated by a myriad of galleries showcasing contemporary and classic art pieces. Murals and street art add a splash of color to its urban landscape, which makes every corner Instagram-worthy.
When it comes to dining, River North offers a wide variety of options. From upscale restaurants serving gourmet dishes to cozy cafes offering comfort food, there’s something to satiate every craving. You’ll never go hungry here!
If you’re wondering where to stay in Chicago on a budget, River North provides a range of accommodations that won’t break the bank, yet place you right in the heart of the action.
As night falls, the neighborhood transforms into a lively hub with its array of bars, clubs, and entertainment venues. Whether you’re looking to dance the night away or enjoy a quiet evening with a cocktail in hand, River North is one of the best areas to stay in Chicago for nightlife.
Lincoln Park is a breath of fresh air in the bustling city of Chicago. This expansive neighborhood, named after the park it surrounds, offers a serene escape with its lush green spaces, tranquil ponds, and scenic trails. Nature enthusiasts will be delighted to find the Lincoln Park Conservatory, a haven of tropical plants and exotic flowers. Moreover, the Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in the U.S., offers free admission to its visitors.
Beyond its natural beauty, Lincoln Park is a hub for education and culture. The esteemed DePaul University calls this neighborhood home, bringing with it a youthful and vibrant energy. History lovers can delve into the past at the Chicago History Museum, which chronicles the city’s rich heritage.
Families will appreciate the plethora of playgrounds and recreational areas, making it a top choice for those deciding where to stay in Chicago with family. The neighborhood also boasts a lakeside beach. It’s the perfect spot for sunbathing, picnics, and water sports during the warmer months.
With tree-lined streets, charming boutiques, and a relaxed ambiance, Lincoln Park offers a perfect blend of city life and natural beauty. Its diverse range of accommodations, from historic bed and breakfasts to modern apartments, ensures a comfortable stay for all.
Welcome to Gold Coast, where Chicago’s glitzy past meets its vibrant present.Just a hop away from downtown, this neighborhood is a visual treat with its grand old mansions, tree-lined avenues, and swanky boutiques. It’s like stepping into a time machine, but with the added bonus of modern-day luxuries.
But hey, it’s not all about the glitz and glamour. Dive a bit deeper, and you’ll discover architectural gems like the Gothic-inspired Charnel House and the sky-touching John Hancock Center. Trust us, the views from the top are a game-changer!
While the neighborhood is known for its high-end shopping, with designer stores lining the Magnificent Mile, it also offers a rich cultural experience. The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, showcasing avant-garde pieces, is a must-visit for art aficionados.
If you’re seeking the best places to stay in Chicago for couples, Gold Coast provides a romantic backdrop with its intimate cafes, fine dining restaurants, and stunning lakefront views. The evenings here are serene, with the gentle waves of Lake Michigan providing a soothing soundtrack.
Gold Coast seamlessly blends the charm of the past with modern amenities, making it a top choice for travelers seeking a luxurious and culturally rich experience in Chicago.
Wicker Park and Bucktown are where Chicago’s creative spirit truly comes alive. Think of vibrant street art, indie music venues, and eclectic boutiques that defy the mainstream. These neighboring areas are a playground for the city’s artists, musicians, and free spirits.
Kick off your exploration with a visit to The 606, an elevated trail offering a unique neighborhood perspective. It’s a favorite among joggers, cyclists, and anyone looking to escape the city’s hustle for a bit. If you’re a bookworm, you’re in for a treat. Independent bookstores dot the area, each with its own personality and curated collection.
The nightlife in Wicker Park and Bucktown is nothing short of electric. From intimate live music venues where you can catch the next big thing to laid-back bars where craft beers reign supreme, there’s a spot for every kind of night owl.
Considering where to stay in Chicago without a car? These neighborhoods are a top pick. With their pedestrian-friendly streets and easy access to public transport, getting around is a breeze. Plus, the blend of historic homes and modern condos offers a range of accommodation options to suit every traveler’s taste.
Hyde Park, with its academic ambiance and storied past, is a neighborhood that sparks intrigue. Anchored by the prestigious University of Chicago, its streets echo with Gothic-style architecture, verdant quads, and the bustling energy of students. But aside from the scholarly pursuits, Hyde Park has much to offer.
Step into a world of discovery at the Museum of Science and Industry, among the world’s most expansive science museums. Here, hands-on exhibits captivate both the young and the young at heart. Not far away stands the Robie House, an architectural gem crafted by the iconic Frank Lloyd Wright.
Seeking a serene escape? The Osaka Garden on Wooded Island provides a peaceful haven amidst the city’s hustle. It’s an ideal spot for reflection, strolls, or simply appreciating nature’s beauty.
For those with a love for good food, Hyde Park doesn’t disappoint. From quaint cafes offering global dishes to time-honored local eateries, there’s a taste for every palate.
On the hunt for the best places to stay in Chicago? Hyde Park’s blend of historic guesthouses and contemporary apartments promises a memorable vacation.
Step into Logan Square, and you’ll instantly grasp why it’s often touted as one of Chicago’s best neighborhoods. This bohemian haven, with streets lined by historic boulevards on one side and colorful murals on the other, is a melting pot of old-world charm and contemporary flair.
At its heart stands the Logan Square Monument, a nod to the area’s storied past. Venture a bit further, and local boutiques that defy the ordinary await, alongside vinyl record shops that take you on a nostalgic trip and coffee houses where every brew tells a tale.
Logan Square offers more than just a trip down memory lane, though. The neighborhood buzzes with events that make you wonder where to go in Chicago next. From farmers’ markets bursting with fresh finds to indie music festivals that get your feet tapping, there’s always something happening. Night owls, you’re in luck! Dive into a nightlife scene brimming with hidden speakeasy bars, craft beer spots, and rooftop lounges that offer views and vibes in equal measure.
If you’re wondering where to stay in Chicago for the first time, Logan Square might just be your answer. With artsy lofts and cozy B&Bs, it’s a top pick. However, its popularity means it can get quite lively, especially on weekends, which might not be everyone’s preference.
Ever wondered where Chicago’s heart truly beats? Look no further than Lakeview. This vibrant neighborhood, nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan, is a delightful blend of beach vibes, bustling streets, and a tight-knit community spirit.
Lakeview is synonymous with Wrigley Field, the iconic baseball stadium that’s home to the Chicago Cubs. On game days, the neighborhood is awash with energy, as fans clad in blue and red cheer for their beloved team. But even if baseball isn’t your thing, the historic stadium is worth a visit for its sheer architectural beauty.
The neighborhood also boasts a lively arts scene. From the Belmont Theater District, offering a plethora of performances, to local art galleries showcasing budding talents, there’s no shortage of cultural experiences.
Food lovers will be spoilt for choice in Lakeview. Whether you’re craving gourmet pizza, international delicacies, or a simple brunch, the myriad of eateries cater to every palate. And if you’re searching for the best places to stay in Chicago, Lakeview’s range of boutique hotels and guesthouses promises a cozy retreat.
However, while Lakeview is bustling with activity, it can get crowded, especially during summer weekends when locals flock to its beaches and parks. Despite this, it’s a neighborhood I recommend everyone to shortlist when deciding where to stay in Chicago, Illinois.
Step into Andersonville, and you’re greeted by a neighborhood that wears its Swedish heritage on its sleeve. With quaint European-style bakeries, antique shops, and the iconic water tower adorned with the Swedish flag, Andersonville is a delightful nod to Chicago’s multicultural roots.
But don’t let its historic charm fool you. Andersonville is as modern as it gets. The neighborhood is a hotspot for LGBTQ+ culture and events, which makes it one of the city’s most inclusive and vibrant areas. Every year, the Andersonville Midsommarfest draws crowds with its live music, dance performances, and delicious street food, celebrating both its Swedish and LGBTQ+ heritage.
Shopping enthusiasts, rejoice! Andersonville’s Clark Street is full of unique boutiques, vintage stores, and artisanal crafts. Whether you’re hunting for a rare vinyl record, handcrafted jewelry, or a piece of vintage furniture, there’s a good chance you’ll find it here.
For those seeking unique places to stay in Chicago, Andersonville offers a range of boutique accommodations that reflect its eclectic character. From charming bed and breakfasts to modern apartments, there’s something for every traveler.
One thing to note: while Andersonville is a hub of activity during the day, it offers a more laid-back vibe in the evenings. This makes it perfect for those looking for a quieter night out.
Pilsen bursts with color and culture at every turn. This neighborhood, adorned with vivid murals, proudly showcases its deep Mexican heritage. Each artwork, each street corner in Pilsen, tells a story, echoing the vibrant spirit of its community.
The National Museum of Mexican Art stands as a highlight in the neighborhood. With a collection of over 10,000 artworks, it offers a journey through the diverse and dynamic facets of Mexican culture, spanning ancient to contemporary times.
Aside from its artistic allure, Pilsen delights the senses. The inviting aroma of tortillas fresh off the griddle, the tantalizing taste of street tacos, and the harmonious tunes of mariachi bands create an atmosphere that’s hard to resist. Local eateries, many with generations of family history, serve up authentic Mexican dishes that are a treat for the palate.
For travelers seeking an authentic cultural experience, Pilsen’s accommodations, from cozy guesthouses to vibrant hostels, provide a warm welcome. Staying here offers a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the neighborhood’s lively ambiance and hospitality. And after a day of exploration, there’s nothing like unwinding in one of Pilsen’s tranquil parks or joining locals for a friendly chat at a neighborhood cafe.
Offering a mix of incredible food and culture, Pilsen is undoubtedly one of Chicago’s best areas to stay for a memorable trip.
Streeterville showcases Chicago’s ability to harmoniously blend urban vibrancy with the tranquility of Lake Michigan. This upscale neighborhood, characterized by its shimmering skyscrapers and well-maintained parks, offers a unique mix of city thrills and lakeside relaxation.
The renowned Navy Pier is undeniably Streeterville’s most celebrated attraction. This entertainment hub buzzes with activities, from its iconic Ferris wheel that provides sweeping city views to boat cruises that embark on picturesque lake voyages.
Architectural enthusiasts will be in awe of the neighborhood’s iconic structures, including the Tribune Tower and the Wrigley Building.
Venture deeper into Streeterville, and you’ll uncover quaint cafes, art galleries, and hidden spots that add to the area’s charm. Food lovers will be delighted by the array of dining options, where international dishes meet Chicago’s signature flavors.
Streeterville’s central location and family-friendly accommodations make it an excellent choice for those curious about where to stay in Chicago as a family. Its close proximity to attractions, combined with parks and kid-friendly activities, ensures a memorable stay for all ages.
In Streeterville, every moment is an opportunity to create lasting memories, be it admiring the cityscape from a high-rise or savoring a peaceful morning by the water’s edge.
Are you looking for more content to help you decide where to stay in Chicago? Here are some common questions (and answers) I get asked a lot about Chicago’s best areas.
A typical visit to Chicago spans 3 to 4 days. This allows travelers enough time to explore the city’s iconic landmarks, indulge in the city’s best restaurants, and soak in the local culture. However, if you’re keen on diving deep into all that Chicago offers, including its lesser-known gems, a week would be ideal. The best part? Chicago is a great departure point to local and international destinations. And with two main airports, it’s easy to find a great deal on flights to anywhere from Chicago.
Choosing the right place to stay in Chicago depends on your interests and preferences. Here’s a quick rundown to help you decide:
1. Downtown Chicago: Perfect for first-timers, it’s close to major attractions and offers a range of accommodations.
2. Lincoln Park: Ideal for nature lovers and families, with its expansive park and proximity to the zoo.
3. Wicker Park: A hipster haven, it’s great for those seeking vibrant nightlife and unique shopping experiences.
4. Streeterville: Situated near Navy Pier, it’s fantastic for families and those looking for lakeside views.
5. Logan Square: A blend of historic charm and modern vibes, it’s a top pick for culture enthusiasts and foodies.
September to October is considered the best time to visit Chicago. During these months, the weather is pleasant, and the city hosts a variety of festivals and events. Spring, from April to May, is another good time, though it can be a bit unpredictable weather-wise.
Which Chicago neighborhood is best for you?
Choosing the best neighborhood in Chicago depends on your preferences, lifestyle, and needs. Here’s a breakdown of some popular Chicago neighborhoods to help you decide which might be the best fit for you:
- The Loop:
- Best for: Business professionals, lovers of architecture and urban living.
- Highlights: Chicago’s business district, iconic skyscrapers, Millennium Park, Art Institute of Chicago.
- River North:
- Best for: Young professionals, art enthusiasts, nightlife lovers.
- Highlights: Trendy bars, art galleries, upscale dining, Merchandise Mart.
- Best for: Those seeking luxury living, proximity to the lake.
- Highlights: Navy Pier, upscale high-rises, Ohio Street Beach.
- Lincoln Park:
- Best for: Families, young professionals, nature lovers.
- Highlights: Lincoln Park Zoo, DePaul University, theaters, green spaces.
- Best for: Young professionals, LGBTQ+ community, sports fans.
- Highlights: Wrigley Field, Boystown, diverse dining and nightlife.
- Wicker Park & Bucktown:
- Best for: Artists, hipsters, boutique shoppers.
- Highlights: Vintage shops, music venues, trendy bars, and restaurants.
- Logan Square:
- Best for: Hipsters, foodies, young families.
- Highlights: Farmer’s markets, craft breweries, indie coffee shops.
- West Loop:
- Best for: Foodies, urban professionals.
- Highlights: “Restaurant Row” on Randolph Street, chic lofts, Google’s Chicago HQ.
- Hyde Park:
- Best for: Academics, history buffs, families.
- Highlights: University of Chicago, Museum of Science and Industry, historic architecture.
- Gold Coast:
- Best for: Luxury seekers, history enthusiasts.
- Highlights: Historic mansions, upscale shopping on Oak Street, proximity to the lake.
- Best for: Artists, cultural enthusiasts.
- Highlights: National Museum of Mexican Art, vibrant murals, art galleries.
- Best for: LGBTQ+ community, vintage shoppers, families.
- Highlights: Swedish American Museum, local boutiques, diverse dining.
Is there a lot to do in Chicago?
Absolutely! Chicago is a vibrant city with a rich history, diverse culture, and a plethora of attractions and activities to suit all interests. Here are some of the many things you can do in Chicago:
- Cultural Attractions:
- Art Institute of Chicago: One of the oldest and largest art museums in the U.S.
- Museum of Science and Industry: A vast museum with interactive exhibits.
- Field Museum: A renowned natural history museum.
- Chicago Cultural Center: Known for its stunning architecture and free cultural events.
- Architectural Wonders:
- Chicago Architecture Center: Offers tours showcasing the city’s architectural heritage.
- Architectural Boat Tours: Explore Chicago’s architecture from the Chicago River.
- Willis Tower Skydeck: Offers panoramic views of the city.
- Parks & Nature:
- Millennium Park: Home to the iconic “Bean” (Cloud Gate) sculpture.
- Chicago Riverwalk: A scenic pedestrian trail along the Chicago River.
- Lincoln Park Zoo: A free zoo located in the heart of Lincoln Park.
- Chicago Botanic Garden: A vast garden with various plant collections.
- Entertainment & Nightlife:
- The Second City: Legendary comedy club known for its improv shows.
- Navy Pier: A popular attraction with entertainment, dining, and rides.
- Chicago’s Music Scene: From blues clubs to major music festivals like Lollapalooza.
- Catch a game of the city’s beloved sports teams: Chicago Cubs (baseball), Chicago Bulls (basketball), Chicago Bears (football), and Chicago Blackhawks (hockey).
- Neighborhood Exploration:
- Dive into the unique vibes of neighborhoods like Wicker Park, Logan Square, Andersonville, and Pilsen.
- Food & Dining:
- Taste Chicago’s famous deep-dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dogs, and Italian beef sandwiches.
- Explore the diverse culinary scene, from Michelin-starred restaurants to local eateries.
- Festivals & Events:
- Chicago hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, including the Chicago Air & Water Show, Taste of Chicago, and the Chicago Blues Festival.
Is 3 nights in Chicago enough?
Three nights in Chicago can give you a good taste of the city, but it will be a whirlwind tour. You’ll be able to see some of the major attractions but may not have time to fully immerse yourself in all the city has to offer. Here’s a suggested itinerary for a 3-night stay:
Day 1: Downtown & The Loop
- Morning: Start with Millennium Park. See the iconic “Bean” (Cloud Gate), Crown Fountain, and Lurie Garden.
- Afternoon: Visit the Art Institute of Chicago. Later, walk along the Chicago Riverwalk or take an architectural boat tour.
- Evening: Dine in one of the city’s renowned restaurants. Consider catching a show at the Chicago Theatre or another downtown venue.
Day 2: Museums & Navy Pier
- Morning: Head to Museum Campus. Choose between the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, or Adler Planetarium.
- Afternoon: Explore Navy Pier. Enjoy the views, gardens, and attractions.
- Evening: Consider a visit to Willis Tower’s Skydeck for sunset views of the city. Dine in the West Loop, known for its vibrant restaurant scene.
Neighborhood Exploration (Day 3)
- Morning: Visit Lincoln Park. Explore the Lincoln Park Zoo (it’s free!) and the Conservatory.
- Afternoon: Choose a neighborhood to explore further, such as Wicker Park, Logan Square, or Andersonville. Each has its unique vibe, shops, and eateries.
- Evening: Head to a comedy show at The Second City or see a live music performance at one of Chicago’s many venues.
- Utilize the “L” train (Chicago’s subway system) to get around efficiently.
- If you’re interested in architecture, don’t miss the chance to take an architectural boat tour.
- Chicago’s neighborhoods are diverse and vibrant, so if you have specific interests (like food, art, or history), you might want to tailor your itinerary accordingly.
Chicago can be pricier than some U.S. cities, but it offers a range of options to fit various budgets. While dining and accommodations in upscale areas might be on the higher side, there are plenty of budget-friendly attractions, eateries, and places to stay in Chicago on a budget.
Absolutely! Chicago boasts a well-laid-out grid system, which makes it easy to navigate on foot. Many of its top attractions, especially in the downtown area, are within walking distance of each other. Plus, the city’s scenic lakefront and riverwalk offer beautiful pathways for pedestrians.
Michigan Avenue, often referred to as “The Magnificent Mile,” is Chicago’s primary tourist street. It’s lined with a plethora of shops, restaurants, and iconic buildings. It’s a must-visit for anyone exploring the city.
Chicago truly offers something for everyone. From the upscale allure of Streeterville to the bohemian vibes of Logan Square, each area presents its unique charm and character.
Downtown Chicago beckons with its iconic landmarks, while Lincoln Park promises serene green spaces amidst urban hustle. Wicker Park stands out with its eclectic nightlife, and Pilsen thrills with its vibrant arts scene. And let’s not forget the lakeside tranquility that neighborhoods like Lakeview bring to the table.
The beauty of Chicago lies in its diversity. Whether you’re a solo traveler seeking adventure, a family on vacation, or a couple on a romantic getaway, the city has a neighborhood that feels just right. And the best part? There’s an array of accommodations to match every preference and pocket.
Get ready pack your bags and set out to discover the many facets of the Windy City!