Rainbow pillars line Halsted street in East Lakeview, while businesses and residences proudly display their flags, Human Rights Campaign stickers, and Equality Illinois support. Chicago's Boystown was the first officially recognized gay neighborhood in the United States and from this rich history comes a vibrant, prosperous, and proud community that offers some of the city's best shopping, entertainment, dining, and nightlife. If you haven't explored Boystown yet, not is the perfect time. It's Pride month (yes, we have a whole month of Pride), so it's the perfect time to get going!
For real, you won't get much better shopping than in this gorgeous neighborhood. Pick your montage music and decide whether you want to start: vintage or boutique. The neighborhood has some top notch shopping, especially along Belmont and between Sheffield and Halsted. In that tiny stretch, you will discover Ragstock and Hollywood Mirror for some amazing vintage and Fashion Tomato, and Belmont Army Surplus for boutique fashion. Head north on Halsted to Beatnix to stock up on wigs and platform heels and to Brown Elephant for some of the best thrift shopping in the city. When you start to feel a little naughty, check out one of Boystown's adult shops like Taboo Tabou or Cupid's Treasure.
Chicago is truly a diner's paradise, and Boystown is certainly no different. Check out classic favorites like Mia Francesca, Yoshi's Café, and Socca for delicious variety, or hit up the legendary vegan paradise, The Chicago Diner. The Chicago Diner has been vegan since 1983 (you can get real cheese there, if you choose) and specializes in American classics gone vegan. Save room for one of the amazing vegan desserts on your trip. Hearty Boys is another legendary Chicago company and their main restaurant is located on Halsted in Boystown.
Boystown is a nightlife mecca with dozens of bars and clubs lining its streets. Personal favorites of mine are North End, Bobby Love's, and Roscoe's, while places like MiniBar, Halsted's, Taverna 750, and Buck's offer delicious food along with their cocktails. Not ready to go home at closing time? Don't worry. Many Boystown bars are open until 4 A.M. like Hydrate and (my personal paradise) Berlin.
If all this wasn't compelling enough to get you to Boystown this weekend, let me tip the scales a touch more. This weekend is the second weekend of Chicago's Northalsted Pride Festival. The neighborhood is guaranteed to be packed all weekend, while the month-long city-wide celebration culminates in the Pride Parade on June 30. Grab your feather boas, sunglasses, and rainbow flags, friends, and start lining those streets with your Pride!
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