This summer, Chicago’s vibrant neighborhoods are the place to discover something new — like a fascinating piece of history, a one-of-a-kind cultural celebration, or a locally loved restaurant. These unique communities are filled with hidden gems and under-the-radar eats, events, and beyond.
Chicago neighborhoods to explore
The Englewood population began to see a boom in population after the Great Chicago Fire. A long-time haven for immigrants, Englewood has been home to waves of German, Irish, Scottish, Korean, Pakistani, and African American residents. In the 1920s, the community’s shopping district was the second-most popular in the entire city.
Top things to do
- Kusanya Cafe is a nonprofit coffee shop and gathering place serving all-day breakfast and lunch.
- A tradition for more than 20 years, Englewood Jazz Festival brings four days of live music to Hamilton Park.
- The Yale Apartments, considered a historic gem, is known for its detailed limestone facade and soaring glass atrium.
- Growing Home Farm Stand is an urban farm that offers cooking demos, free samples, healthy recipes, and free farm tours.
Getting there: The Red Line stops in the neighborhood at 63rd Street. The Green Line also stops in Englewood at Halsted and Ashland/63rd.
Back of the Yards
Back of the Yards got its name when it was settled by workers in the nearby Union Stock Yard between the 1860s and 1880s. Once the heart of Chicago’s meatpacking industry, Back of the Yards has a long history of political activism and championing labor causes.
Top things to do
- A local favorite, Fiesta Back of the Yards celebrates the neighborhood’s diversity and history with food vendors, carnival rides, and live entertainment.
- Sherman Park hosts popular movie nights, live jazz concerts, and holiday events.
- Sputnik Coffee Company is a cozy coffee shop serving their own approachable, down-to-earth blends.
- Union Stock Yard Gate, a Chicago landmark, is one of the only surviving remnants of Chicago’s meatpacking heyday.
- The taproom at Whiner Beer Co. serves barrel-aged beers inside The Plant, a sustainable food business incubator.
Getting there: The Red Line makes a stop nearby at 47th Street. The closest Orange Line stop is Western.
North Lawndale has been shaped by a fascinatingly diverse history — the one-time home of Dr. Martin Luther King, a historic Jewish enclave, and the location of the original Sears Tower.
Top things to do
- The SoulFood Lounge serves hearty renditions of classic dishes with international influences.
- The MLK Exhibit Center honors Dr. King’s fight for housing equality, located on the street where he and his family once lived.
- Douglass Park features all sorts of outdoor amenities, including an outdoor pool, gardens, and a picturesque lake.
- Lagunitas Brewing Co. operates a popular taproom where you can sample their range of brews.
- Take a youth-led tour of Lawndale to learn more about the history of the neighborhood.
Getting there: The Pink Line makes stops in North Lawndale at Kedzie, Central Park, Pulaski, and Kostner.
Originally settled by Dutch immigrants, Roseland got its name from the residents’ tidy flower gardens. The neighborhood began to flourish with the development of the nearby Pullman Factory and was once considered one of the most important commercial areas outside the Loop.
- Old Fashioned Donuts has been serving made-by-hand donuts for more than 40 years.
- Just east of Roseland, Harborside International Golf Center features two scenic 18-hole courses.
- Enjoy steakhouse favorites at The Ware Ranch, a family-owned and operated establishment.
- Also nearby, Big Marsh Park is a large natural area with a mountain bike park and nature trails.
Getting there: The Red Line stops near Roseland at 95th/Dan Ryan. The Metra Electric line stops at 95th Street, 103rd St., and 107th.
Situated along Lake Michigan and the Calumet River, this diverse neighborhood was once an industrial hub and the location of a prosperous steel mill. Commercial Avenue is the main retail corridor, home to cafes, bakeries, and shops.
- Opened in 1948, Calumet Fisheries still smokes their seafood the old-fashioned way — and it’s earned them a James Beard America’s Classic award.
- Steelworkers Park, set on the site of a former steel manufacturing plant, features waterfront trails and a community climbing wall built into the historic wall.
- The New Regal Theater is a lavishly decorated landmark, instantly recognizable for its colorful Middle Eastern-inspired facade.
- Nearby, Rainbow Beach features a sandy shoreline and awe-inspiring views of the city skyline.
Getting there: The Metra Electric line stops at 83rd St., 87th St., and South Chicago (93rd.).
Like many neighborhoods in the area, the Auburn Gresham community grew rapidly after the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. The historic neighborhood is full of quintessential Chicago architecture, including many classic bungalow homes.
Top things to do
- Nearby, Auburn Park features a meandering lagoon, a waterfall, and lots of open green space.
- Built 90 years ago, St. Sabina Church is a striking Cathedral with large stained glass windows and African Catholic motifs.
- The annual 79th Street Renaissance Festival features live gospel music, hip-hop performances, carnival rides, a petting zoo, local food, and more.
- During the holidays, 79th Street is filled with festive cheer, including a Winter Wonderland with a tree lighting ceremony.
- Get a taste of home with some Thanksgiving-worthy comfort food at Dan’s Soul Food and Café.
Getting there: The Red Line stops near Auburn Gresham at 79th and 87th streets. You can also take the Metra Rock Island line to the Gresham stop.
Discover MORE Chicago NEIGHBORHOODS
Chicago is made up of a diversity tapestry of neighborhoods, each with its own unique history, culture, and vibe.