While the Mag Mile, Millennium Park and Navy Pier never seem to get old, try somewhere new this summer while visiting Chicago and discover the vibrant neighborhoods of Wicker Park and Bucktown.
Right off the Kennedy Expressway, CTA Blue Line or Metra line, these two neighborhoods are easy to find just northwest of the Loop. If traveling by two wheels is more your style, this area is bicycle friendly with many racks to park bikes and bike lanes on the streets crossing through the area.
The Wicker Park District has been part of Chicago since becoming a city in 1837. As time went on and the city's boundaries grew, the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods also began to build and diversify, especially after the flood of commercial and residential buildings coming into the area after the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. The influx of residents created a diverse population both culturally and economically. The district experienced a decline from 1930-75, but now is experiencing a boom in development and growth, as the eclectic mix of residents and entertainment offerings continue to expand.
Upon arriving in the Wicker Park and Bucktown area, visitors can wander looking at beautiful, historic and hip storefronts. Whether there for dinner, brunch, coffee, shopping or a day outside, this area has several ways to make a good day out of the trip.
Known as one of Chicago's most inspiring neighborhoods, this area is also known for its art. There are many galleries and workshops to feed your creative side including the Jackson Junge Gallery on Milwaukee Avenue and the Monique Meloche Gallery on Damen. Stop by The Flat Iron Arts building, which is a haven for local artists and other creative small businesses located at the Six Corners where Milwaukee, North Avenue and Damen intersect. Or, take some coffee with your art and discover the art adorned walls at Janik's Cafe on Division.
While caffeine is on the brain, it's a good time to mention, this area of the Windy City has java cravings covered with not only quality roasts, but also unique atmospheres to enjoy a cup. The Wormhole on Milwaukee is one such place. Enjoy an iced coffee or chai while the movie paraphernalia takes you away to a different time. Or stop by Ready Coffee, which bills itself as "a bar without the booze" to hang out after dinner or meet with friends during the day.
After fueling up on coffee, use that energy to uncover unique finds at the boutiques around the Wicker Park and Bucktown neighborhoods. Penelope's on Division brings sophisticated style with clean lines and classic colors to this corner of town. After finding some new outfits there, pop down the street to Frill where you can top off the look with some eye catching accessories.
When you've finally dropped from all that shop, get some fresh air by visiting Wicker Park proper. Admire the gardens or relax by the fountain. There are also tours given by the Chicago Architecture Foundation and fresh food to be gathered at the farmer's market. And if there's a furry family member in tow, make another stop at Churchill Field Dog Park on North Damen.
To quench thirst and satisfy an appetite, you don't have to wander too far. This area is home to some of the most inventive bars in the city along with some tasty restaurants that are sure to please any foodie. Step into the Blue Line Lounge and Grill on Damen and choose from a lengthy list of martinis or craft brews in a Sinatra-estque setting. For some comfort food, head on over to The Southern on North Avenue for a perfectly spiced Bloody Mary and some savory shrimp and grits. Whether you're a carnivore or vegan, trendy eater or prefer homestyle classics, there's a place for every appetite in these neighborhoods.
For more information on what to visit in Wick Park and Bucktown and to keep up with summer events including the popular Wicker Park Fest, visit wickerparkbucktown.com.