The areas we like best to stay in Chicago are the Magnificent Mile, River North, and the Loop. However, they are not the only ones that are a total success. We will explain to you how these areas and others are recommended so that you can choose according to your tastes and travel expectations.
Chicago is one of the great cities of the United States worthy of being visited. It is located on the east coast of Lake Michigan and is known for being a city punished by intense winds, hence its famous nickname: the city of winds.
It is also known as one of the great industrial centers of the United States. It has one of the most important ports, as well as an excellent network of roads and railways.
On a cultural level, Chicago is the center of great universities, libraries, theaters and museums of international fame. It is the place par excellence of jazz and blues. Its neighborhoods are home to different ethnic groups, which makes this city a diverse place.
As if that were not enough, it is the scene of an impressive architecture, and it can boast of having beautiful parks, restaurants for the most sybarite, and shops that attract many visitors.
If you are evaluating which is the best area to stay in Chicago, we will illustrate the most outstanding neighborhoods. This way, you will have a clear idea of the neighborhood that best suits your expectations.
The best areas and neighborhoods to stay in Chicago
Chicago Loop: dynamic center
Thanks to the vitality of young people studying at universities such as DePaul and Columbia, the Loop has become more dynamic in recent years. It used to be an area that would lose its momentum after five o’clock in the afternoon.
But now, with the number of students who live there, it is a centre for cultural activities such as operas, theatres and big concerts. Both Millennium Park and Lollapalooza have made the Loop one of their favorite concert venues.
The nightlife comes alive in its terrace bars and rooftops, as well as its lounges, where you can enjoy excellent cocktails. The area is full of clubs that offer shows until late at night, and where you can listen to the best blues.
Since the Loop is the commercial epicenter, it offers a great deal of culinary offerings: from take-out to refined restaurants. Food stalls such as Revival Food Hall, Forum 55, and Wells St. Market are popular in this neighborhood, and are ideal for savoring a little bit of everything.
The Loop attracts a huge number of visitors throughout the year. There’s a lot to see, as it’s home to skyscrapers, parks, public art, and world-class museums. Explore the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum, the Chicago Theater, and its Cultural Center. As for open spaces, be sure to visit Millennium and Grant Parks.
State Street is famous for its stores of both big names and specialty stores, where you can find any item.
As for communications, all regional public transport comes to the Loop. There you can travel freely by car, bicycle, bus, subway, and even on foot, given the proximity of the tourist sites. If you move by car, you will have no problem parking, since the area has a large number of garages and spaces with regulated parking.
This area is one of the best to stay in Chicago, because the most interesting tourist sites are just a few steps away. There, you will be able to select the type of accommodation in Chicago that best suits you: luxury, hotel-spa, historical, adjusted to your budget, or pet-friendly.
Accommodations in Chicago Loop
West Loop: vibrant area and close to the center
Located in the center of the city, it was once an industrial center, and has become a neighborhood full of the best restaurants, bars and boutique hotels. Its avant-garde atmosphere concentrates galleries, design shops and antiques.
The busiest areas are located on Randolph and Fulton Market streets, districts par excellence for shopping and gastronomic delight.
Entertainment is the order of the day. Many visitors take tours through Union Park, or go into any of the arcades, famous for their classic video games. You can also visit the Punch Bowl Social Chicago, a space dedicated to good food and bowling.
For skateboarders, the House of Vans is the ideal meeting place, and those who love climbing should visit the Brooklyn Boulders facility. If you are not afraid of heights, enjoy the phenomenal view of the city from the Skydeck.
Being part of the city center, this neighborhood offers a variety of accommodations. So staying in Chicago depends on your budget. The neighborhood offers a real city experience, with spectacular views from any of its skyscrapers, as well as good communications, and proximity to places of interest.
The West Loop is a neighborhood that is easy to get around, especially on foot. It offers access to public transportation that reaches any point in the city. If you go by car, you won’t have any problems with traffic or parking. In addition, there is an abundance of taxis, which are easily taken on the streets.
West Loop Hotels
South Loop: attractive community
Just south, near Grant Park and the museums, it has become one of the city’s most dynamic and entertaining residential areas. So much so that the best luxury apartments can be found there.
This is because the area is surrounded by both the lake and fabulous parks. The neighborhood, as well as the West Loop, also has an avant-garde atmosphere, thanks to the talent of its artists.
Because there’s a dedicated entertainment offering full of theaters, museums and parks, it’s a place where open-air concerts and long-running theatrical performances are popular.
During the summer months there is a great musical scene, and places like the Huntington Bank Pavilion and Soldier Field offer events while you take in the panoramic views of the city and lake.
There are an average of twelve restaurants, bars and cafes in the neighborhood for every five minute walk. There are a number of bars and taverns designed for evening entertainment.
Unlike the two neighborhoods mentioned above, South Loop offers a less concentrated shopping district, but you’ll find more than 500 establishments, from shops to markets.
When it comes to big shows, this area often hosts events like the Chicago Auto Show and the Health Expo, both of which are held in the McCormick Place convention rooms.
South Loop is well connected: 32 public transportation lines, four subway stations and one train station, plus taxis and plenty of parking if you’re driving.
Staying in Chicago at South Loop gives you the advantage of being close to the stadium to see the Chicago Bears. Much of the hotel accommodation is within walking distance of the Willis Towers, Grant Park and Soldier Field.
Accommodations in South Loop
River North: pure distinction
Located on the Chicago River, north of the Loop and east of Magnificent Ville, it is a modern area where antique shops, art galleries, production companies, photo studios and design firms abound. Here you won’t find houses, but skyscrapers and apartment complexes.
The area has more restaurants, bars and nightclubs than any other neighborhood in the city, and during the summer it is packed with tourists.
One of its main attractions is the Navy Pier, a very visited place, since it offers shops, entertainment such as movie theaters, the Chicago Children’s Museum, and tours over the lake. The most visited places by adults are usually the Hard Rock Café and the House of Blues.
River North has nothing to envy from other neighborhoods. Here you can shop from quirky boutiques to famous brand names. In total, the area offers about 400 stores.
Although it’s known for being a neighborhood with a vibrant nightlife, during the day it’s possible to stay busy. Shopping at antique stores, visiting museums, or kayaking are some of the most interesting recreational activities.
Public transportation is accessible from this area. There are train routes as well as six bus routes. Taking a taxi is very easy, as they are easily found everywhere.
Regarding accommodation, this area of the city concentrates the largest offer of hotels. An example of this is the enormous number of tourists that can be observed during the summer season. Staying in Chicago in this neighborhood requires planning to get the ideal hotel.
River North Accommodations
Magnificent Mile: extreme luxury
This strip is famous for its exquisite architecture and for housing the city’s most luxurious hotels. The neighborhood attracts many tourists, especially at Christmas time and during the warm months.
It is the ideal place to stay in Chicago for those who enjoy shopping in both boutiques and department stores, often attracted by this space located between North Michigan Avenue and Oak Street.
The architecture of its spaces is iconic. It’s worth taking a look at buildings such as Tribune Tower, the Wrigley and London Guarantee buildings, and walking the riverfront. The district has an abundance of public art that pays tribute to the city and its history.
Take advantage of sightseeing boat trips from the bridge over Michigan Avenue. Don’t miss a visit to the John Hancock Center for an unbeatable panoramic view from its observatory.
The star entertainment consists of enjoying the best theatrical productions the city has to offer. On the Magnificent Mile you get the best seats to appreciate Shakespeare’s theater, or any of the acclaimed plays that have triumphed on Broadway.
The area is famous for being a mecca for upscale shopping, offering more than 460 stores, many of which are spread across three fabulous vertical malls.
Boarding a taxi is easy. Just raise your hand when you see one. During the summer months, opt for the “water taxi”, which is ideal for taking a trip down the river. Buses and subway trains are an excellent option at a low price.
As for sleeping in Chicago, the Magnificent Mile is home to about 70 hotels, mostly high-end. There’s something for every taste and style: from boutique hotels to five-star hotels, as well as renowned international chains.
Hotels in Magnificent Mile
Old Town: small and friendly
Located in the north of the city and close to downtown, Old Town is one of the most historic residential neighborhoods. Its atmosphere is welcoming, thanks to its street festivals. Its neighbors are usually very close, and therefore it is normal to observe picnics or celebrations along its streets.
The architecture of the whole area reflects the typical Victorian style. It is possible to admire picturesque houses, as well as narrow streets and cozy little shops. It is also the ideal area to enjoy a good artisan coffee, charming restaurants and extravagant boutiques.
One of the most representative places of the neighborhood is the Catholic Church of San Miguel, of baroque style.
The neighborhood is the cradle of art. The multifaceted artist Edgar Miller contributed to Chicago’s Renaissance art. The annual Art Fair, held every June, makes this neighborhood a place rich in culture.
In contrast, Old Town is the site of America’s comedy theaters. Among the most popular are The Second City and Zanies.
The neighborhood can be explored on foot. It offers a variety of restaurants (about 160). Wells Street is home to ethnic restaurants and a number of bars. Stop at the popular Ale House bar, and House of Glunz for a few drinks.
Due to its proximity to downtown and Lincoln Park, Old Town is very close to tourist attractions. It offers easy access to public transport, taxis and car hire. It is a good place to stay in Chicago, since the hotel offer is very varied.
Accommodations in Old Town Chicago
West Town: peaceful and close
Located northwest of the Loop, West Town is a large area that includes sub-areas such as Wicker Park, Noble Square, East Village and Ukrainian Village. It is characterized by numerous and varied events throughout the year: fairs, festivals, art exhibitions, concerts and markets. Many of the community events take place in Commercial Park.
A must see is Eckhart Park, which is fantastically located and offers a panoramic view of the city. It is the typical place where the inhabitants relax and drink a cup of coffee. West Town is also known for the murals that are displayed on West Hubbard Street for eleven blocks.
Among the activities offered by the district are events held by very active theaters such as Chopin and Redmoon, where films, musicals and literary works are shown.
One of the most interesting activities is renting a kayak in Noble Square and taking a guided tour across the river. On the other hand, West Town is a mecca for vintage shopping and homemade cakes. It is the reference area for buying classic cowboy boots from all over the Midwest.
It is also worth visiting the Polish Museum of America, where you can see the art, folk clothing and artifacts of the Polish community of the early nineteenth century. In the area you will find numerous restaurants and bistros with a varied gastronomic offer.
The public transportation in the area consists of four bus stops that provide direct access to O’Hare International Airport, and arrive to the Loop in a few minutes.
It is easy to find accommodation in Chicago in this area, as the offer is varied and you can get excellent prices.
Accommodations in West Town
Lincoln Park: nature nearby
This neighborhood is located north of Chicago. It is a green area that is crowded with highly decorated houses, and it is a place full of history. Lincoln Park is home to the first Ferris wheel. It is also home to great rock concerts and numerous nightclubs that offer live blues music.
Activities include visits to the zoo. It is located inside Lincoln Park, in addition to its greenhouse with forty thousand plants, the Alfred Caldwell Pond – an oasis full of peace in the heart of Chicago – and a cultural center. The Chicago History Museum is a must see, as is Oz Park, dedicated to the famous wizard of the film.
Lincoln Park is a place where you can make unique purchases, from luxury pieces to trinkets, because it is an eclectic area, where you can find sales of vinyl or elegant baby clothes in many small independent establishments.
At lunchtime, choose restaurants like Alinea, one of the best in the world. It is a good place to taste fusion dishes and drink in a sophisticated way in the best bars of the city.
One of the best ways to get to and around this neighbourhood is by using the public transport offered by CTA. Both bus and train services are vital for tourists and residents in this residential area.
To sleep in Chicago you don’t need to find accommodation right in the middle of the city to enjoy a real city experience. By staying in this area, you will also experience the lifestyle of its inhabitants.
Lincoln Park Hotels
Theatre District: lively area
In the heart of the city is the district dedicated to plays in establishments that still preserve the architecture of the golden age.
This tourist area has impressive buildings and is home to renowned theatre companies. If you’ve chosen to stay in the district because you’ve managed to get tickets to the best Broadway attractions, enjoy the surroundings. Great theaters like Chicago, Oriental, Goodman and Cadillac Palace are just a few of the more popular ones.
However, the Theatre District is not only known for its world-famous stages, but also for its wide range of cuisine. Whether it is French, Italian or American, you can choose the cuisine of your choice in the area.
Take advantage of the proximity to the Art Institute of Chicago – one of the best in the world – to admire photographs, artifacts, paintings and sculptures of different styles and periods.
Transportation options are quite convenient throughout the neighborhood, since you can find everything from taxis, buses, trains, trams, to bicycles. The area concentrates an offer of high and medium category hotels, so you have to consider prices according to the season, since it is a tourist district.
Hotels in Theatre District
Lakeview: far from the centre, but with unique attractions
Lakeview is a large and eclectic residential area where the famous Wrigley Stadium, home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team, is located. This neighborhood is located north of the city and away from the main tourist attractions. Lakeview has a sparkling atmosphere.
The area is ideal for dining out late at night without spending too much, and also for shopping, although there are fewer establishments than in the other neighborhoods mentioned above. However, Lakeview offers dozens of options for all budgets.
Lakeview is another area of Chicago where you can find comedy clubs. In fact, this is where they are most concentrated. Its nights are vibrant, since it offers a lot of bars with live music.
Once you tour this neighborhood you will notice historic buildings such as the Athenaeum Theatre and Lake View High School. Among the curiosities of this neighborhood is Boystown, the most vibrant LGBT community in the United States.
In Lakeview it is not easy to find public transportation in some places, given its large size and distance from downtown. As for hotels, accommodation is scarce and tends to be concentrated near the stadium and Boystown.
Accommodations in Lakeview
Airport area: new magnet for tourists
Not far from the city center, 26 kilometers away, is the airport area: O’Hare. Whether you are waiting there for a stopover, a change of plane, or because you have decided to spend the night nearby, this shopping area has several things to offer.
One of the attractions is the Fashion Outlets of Chicago, a large shopping area for enjoying the big fashion brands.
In Rosemont, the area next to O’Hare, which until a few years ago was dedicated to business and conventions, is now a great entertainment center. There, you can find restaurants, bars, shops, movie theaters and theaters.
Other entertainment complexes, such as Allstate Stadium and Parkway Bank, are packed with events. In Des Plaines you will have the opportunity to play in their casino. Completing the entertainment and leisure activities are the Elk Grove Park and Schaumburg Park nature reserves.
There are several forms of transportation to the area, as well as to and from the area: CTA and METRA train lines, as well as buses. The airport area offers regional buses, shuttle services, car rental and taxis.
To stay in Chicago, very close to O’Hare, is not difficult, since the area has a varied accommodation offer.
Accommodations near O’Hare Airport