Chicago, located on Lake Michigan in Illinois, is the third most populous city in the United States. Chicago is famed for its bold architecture; its skyline bristles with skyscrapers such as the iconic John Hancock Center, sleek Willis Tower and neo-Gothic Tribune Tower. The city is also renowned for its museums, including the Art Institute and its expansive collections, including noted Impressionist works.
Living in Chicago offers excellent family life. Below are a few highlights of living in Chicago. We’re also happy to introduce you to other families who will share their experiences with you.
Choosing Your Neighborhood
South Loop: Such a dynamic mix of attractions and histories that the neighborhood tends to be seen as many different things to many different people. Much of the eastern edge is encompassed by the Museum Campus, an impressive collection of cultural treasures, and Northerly Island, a peninsula sought out by nature lovers. History buffs point out the Motor Row District along South Michigan Avenue and nearby Prairie Avenue District. In the adjacent Printer’s Row neighborhood, urban loft condos now fill the commercial spaces in what was formerly the center of the Midwest’s publishing industry.
Lincoln Park: Motto urbs in horto — or “City in a Garden” — truly comes to life. Historic churches and handsome brick row houses nestled within landmark districts sit next to peaceful parks, while quiet, tree-lined residential areas give way to bustling business corridors.
Lakeview: Anchored by a beautiful stretch of shoreline to the east and dotted with train stops from two ‘L' lines, Lakeview is one of Chicago's liveliest and most accessible neighborhoods. Several distinct areas — East Lakeview, Central Lakeview, Boystown and Wrigleyville — meld together to form a lakefront community that boasts something for everyone, from nature to nightlife, cafés to comedy.
Gold Coast: With streets that are lined with historic mansions and specialty boutiques, the Gold Coast is an intensely popular area for residents and visitors. A day of shopping on Oak Street becomes a night of revelry on the neighborhood’s fabled Rush Street. Amongst the prestigious hotels and celebrated eateries, you will find a trove of booming nightlife hot spots and high-energy events. Treat yourself to the Gold Coast, you deserve it.
River North: A stylish urban neighborhood that borders the Magnificent Mile and is just across the bridge from the Loop, River North is the go-to district for those who appreciate fine art and design. And for those who appreciate fine dining and drinks, the momentum behind the latest trendsetting openings continues to build and the late night energy swells.
The Loop: is one of the most important central business districts on the globe. In addition to its dynamic architecture and buzzing atmosphere, the area has an incredible concentration of cultural institutions and public art — from Millennium Park to the Picasso — as well as Michelin-rated restaurants and a shopper’s paradise along State Street.
Streeterville: A play land filled with amusement rides, gift shops and eateries, Streeterville's main attraction Navy Pier is lined with sightseeing boats and bicycles. In addition to sweeping lakefront views, Navy Pier is home to its own beer garden and evening fireworks in the summer, as well as year-round favorites, Chicago Children’s Museum and Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Beyond the Pier, there's much to do in Streeterville. The neighborhood boasts a range of dining options, from four-star French cuisine to pub fare. Entertainment can be had in the form of outdoor recreation at Ohio Street Beach or arts appreciation at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Old Town: From artsy to affluent, this historic neighborhood has been home to immigrant families, gays, hippies and young professionals alike over the years. Victorian-era buildings, brick alleyways and narrow, tree-lined streets are charming backdrops to a busy main strip that runs along Wells Street between North Avenue and Division Street.
West Loop: One of Chicago’s fastest growing neighborhoods, the West Loop has seen a slew of new sleek restaurant openings join the chic retail boutiques, galleries, design stores and antique sources that give the area its creative-edginess. And for more culture, Greektown has a wealth of it.
Chinatown: With more than 65,000 Chinese residents, Chicago’s Chinatown is one of the largest neighborhoods of its kind in the United States. Located on the city’s near South Side, the vibrant and energetic culture is reflected in the area’s many specialty shops, authentic cultural cuisine and signature landmarks, like Ping Tom Memorial Park and a Buddhist Temple.
Bronzeville: Is responsible for tremendous cultural and social advances. Pulitzer Prize recipient Gwendolyn Brooks, civil rights activist Ida B. Wells, and legendary musician Louis Armstrong were profoundly responsible for the area’s development and subsequent cultural crusade, which included advances in civil rights, jazz, blues and gospel music.
Hyde Park: In 1893 Hyde Park hosted the Chicago’s World Fair (known as the Columbian Exposition) which, among other things, introduced the United States to electricity and the Ferris wheel. The event was so grand that it required more than 600 acres of space, the construction of 200 buildings and welcomed close to 30 million people. More than 120 years later, the area is still a profound hinge point of historical and social importance in Chicago.
It’s easy to travel around Chicago and its surrounding suburbs.
- Airports: Chicago has two international airports, O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport.
- Commuter Trains and Buses: The Chicago Transit Authority runs commuter buses and trains across the city. You can also take Metra trains into the suburbs.
- Bike Shares: Divvy operates a bike share, with 476 stations around Chicago.
Things to Do
From walking or biking the lakefront path to shopping and exploring cultural heritage sites, you’ll enjoy a wide range of activities year round in Chicago. Below are the top-10 things to do, based on TripAdvisor.com.
- Art Institute of Chicago
- Millennium Park
- City Tours
- Cloud Gate (“The Bean”)
- Museum of Science and Industry
- Wrigley Field (the home of Cubs baseball)
- Food Tours
- Michigan Avenue
- Symphony Center
- Richard H. Driehaus Museum
For more ideas, check with your neighborhood association.