Lincoln Park Cultural Hubs

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When Chicagoans seek out some of the most exciting theater, museums, dining and shopping in the city, they know to think outside the Loop — about two miles north, actually — and head to Lincoln Park. This sprawling, energetic neighborhood is not only home to its beautiful namesake park,  it’s also composed of several cultural hubs, each known for unique, only-in-Chicago experiences that are sought after by locals and visitors alike.

LINCOLN — HALSTED HUB

Home to DePaul University, this cultural hub is the heart of theater and music in Lincoln Park.

Originally a Native American trail, the 13-mile Lincoln Avenue is one of Chicago’s famed diagonal streets. Here it features some of the city’s most renowned local theater: Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, founded in 1974 and housed in the former movie theater where John Dillinger was shot; the Greenhouse Theatre Center, home to multiple off-Loop theater companies; and the Apollo Theater, the space where David Mamet’s “Sexual Perversity in Chicago” became a hit. You can also find Lincoln Hall, one of Chicago’s of-the-moment music venues.

Swing on over to Halsted Avenue for authentic Chicago-style blues at Chicago B.L.U.E.S. Bar and Kingston Mines (you can hit them both in the same night — the venues are across the street from one another). Or jam to reggae music at The Wild Hare (official name: The Wild Hare and Singing Armadillo Frog Sanctuary). Hot Caribbean music is especially good on cold Midwestern nights.

Museums abound in Chicago, and the DePaul Art Museum, on the DePaul University campus, is definitely worth a visit. The free museum features contemporary and historical work, including pieces by Salvador Dali, Francisco De Goya and Andy Warhol. While you’re on campus, check out the DePaul School of Music and the DePaul Theatre School — both prestigious programs feature professional-level performances for low ticket prices (so low they’re sometimes free).

Cultural Attractions

APOLLO THEATER
2540 N. Lincoln

chicago b.l.u.e.s. bar
2519 N. Halsted

DEPAUL ART MUSEUM
935 W. Fullerton

DEPAUL SCHOOL OF MUSIC
804 W. Belden

THE THEATRE SCHOOL AT DEPAUL
2350 N. Racine

EMERALD CITY THEATER
Performances at 2540 N. Lincoln

GREENHOUSE THEATER CENTER
2257 N. Lincoln

KINGSTON MINES
2548 N. Halsted

LINCOLN HALL
2424 N. Lincoln

REMY BUMPPO THEATRE COMPANY
Performances at 2257 N. Lincoln

VICTORY GARDENS BIOGRAPH THEATER
2433 N. Lincoln

Transportation
Fullerton CTA Red/Brown/Purple Line, Buses #8 & #74

NORTH — CLYBOURN HUB
The North – Clybourn hub is a great stop for shopping, with all the big, national brand names within walking distance. But keep your eyes peeled for some hidden local gems.

North Avenue, at the intersection of Halsted Street, features destinations worthy of some serious Chicago pride. The multiple Tony award-wining Steppenwolf Theatre counts Gary Sinise, John Malkovich and Laurie Metcalf among its alums. Across the street, the Royal George Theatre’s four stages feature off-Broadway plays, musicals and more. And just north on Halsted Street is the bucket list-worthy Alinea, with its three Michelin stars, modern art-adorned walls and international reputation for highly creative, experimental cuisine.

Clybourn Avenue is all about shopping and entertainment. The NEWCITY complex houses big-name stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Saks Off 5th and Z Gallerie, as well as all-in-one night entertainment from Kings Dining & Entertainment (bowling, dining, drinking) and ArcLight Cinemas (movies, dining, drinking). Walk up Clybourn, North and Halsted for even more serious shopping at stores like Sephora, REI, Crate and Barrel, The Container Store and the Apple Store.

Kingsbury Street offers its own mini entertainment and shopping destination. There you’ll find stores like Anthropologie, DSW, Athleta and Williams-Sonoma, as well as a jaw-droppingly large Whole Foods, complete with a wine bar and food court with riverfront views. And don’t miss iO Theatre — this legendary comedy venue is a mecca for fans and students of improvisation, and features multiple shows every night of the week.

Cultural Attractions

ARCLIGHT CINEMAS
1500 N. Clybourn

CHICAGO ART GALLERY
1871 N. Clybourn

IO THEATER
1501 N. Kingsbury

KINGS dining & entertainment
1500 N. Clybourn

ROYAL GEORGE THEATER
1641 N. Halsted

STEPPENWOLF THEATRE
1650 N. Halsted

Transportation
North/Clybourn CTA Red Line, Bus #8 & #72

LAKEFRONT — CLARK HUB

A lush, green park on the lake, museums, theater, dining — you can spend an entire weekend in the Lakefront – Clark hub and still want more.

The Lincoln Park Cultural Center, housed in a 1927 Georgian Revival-style building, offers everything from a ceramics studio to kids’ activities. The Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the nation’s oldest, is free and open year-round (Chicago is so hardy even the zoo animals go to work in the winter). Watch productions from local theater companies at Theater on the Lake, with Lake Michigan and the city skyline as your backdrop.

Two museums are a short walk from the park. The Chicago History Museum presents an interactive narrative of the city’s history. Kids flock to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, but grown-ups love it, too, for its science and nature exhibits (the butterfly haven is a must-see). In the cooler months, it also hosts the Green City Market, Chicago’s largest sustainable farmers market. When it’s warm, you can find the open-air market inside Lincoln Park.

The North and Wells intersection is home to nationally recognized Chicago theater and comedy. Most every name you know in comedy got their start at the Second City, an improv and sketch theater founded in 1959. Its sister theater, UP Comedy Club, is housed in the same complex, and offers sketch, improv and stand-up. For more stand-up from local and national comedians, head to the intimate, old-school Zanies. Not craving comedy? Check out A Red Orchid Theatre, whose mission is theater “for a modern world.”

Cultural Attractions

CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM
1601 N. Clark

GREEN CITY MARKET
South end of Lincoln Park, between 1750 N. Clark and Stockton

LINCOLN PARK CONSERVATORY
2391 N. Stockton

LINCOLN PARK CULTURAL CENTER
2045 N. Lincoln Park West

LINCOLN PARK ZOO
2001 N. Clark

PEGGY NOTEBAERT NATURE MUSEUM
2430 N. Cannon

THE SECOND CITY
1616 N. Wells

THEATER ON THE LAKE
2401 N. Lake Shore

UP COMEDY CLUB
230 W. North

ZANIES
1548 N. Wells

Transportation
CTA Buses #151, #156, #22, #36

ARMITAGE — HALSTED HUB
Unique, local shopping and dining thrive in the Armitage – Halsted hub.

Lincoln Park’s unofficial wine district is anchored by Summer House Santa Monica, a large, airy restaurant that feels and tastes like the West Coast, complete with a carefully curated selection of California and Pacific North coast wines. J9 Wine Bar is a warm neighborhood spot with an impressive wine list and cocktail menu, and Chez Moi offers French classics (including wines) in a casual, modern space.

Have a meal to write home about in the neighborhood’s most eclectic spots, like the Athenian Room, a favorite for traditional Greek since the 1970s, or Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba, where the tapas, sangria and ambiance burst with flavor and energy. The homey Blue Door Farm Stand focuses on seasonal farm-to-table food, and Oyster Bah (not a typo) delivers authentic New England seafood. For Italian in a casual, laid-back setting, locals love Tarantino’s (especially the outdoor patio when it’s warm).

Find a gift for someone (or, realistically, for yourself) at Art Effect, whose unique jewelry, clothes, and home items make it impossible to walk by without going in. Foodies and the people who shop for them love Read It & Eat, a cookbook bookstore. Check out Bedside Manor for luxury linens and Lori’s Shoes for basically every shoe you can imagine. For treats you can eat, Foxtrot is a specialty convenience store that carries local and hard-to-find brands, and Vosges Haut-Chocolat is a Chicago-born brand whose creative, exotic confections have fans worldwide. Complete your visit with a trip to Old School of Music and treat yourself to a class at this legendary location.

Cultural Attractions

LINCOLN PARK FARMERS MARKET
Armitage and Orchard

OLD TOWN SCHOOL OF FOLK MUSIC
909 W. Armitage

READ IT & EAT
2142 N. Halsted

Transportation
Armitage Brown/Purple Line, CTA Buses #8, #73