On the shore of Lake Michigan, ten minutes from downtown, and famed for its bookstores, Hyde Park is a pretty sweet place to call home. There’s an intellectual energy here that’s hard to explain, from the 18-year-old college student to the Bronzeville jazz musician, from the astrophysics researcher to the Woodlawn blogger, from the bookshop tourist to the senior playing chess in the park. Take a tour here.
- 57th St Books — On 57th St, sister to the Seminary Co-op, you’ll find some of the most wonderful books in here. Wander over to Medici’s afterwards for a milkshake.
- The Museum of Science and Industry — Once home to the Columbian Exposition, this huge and beautiful museum is the kind of place kids dream about. They have things like full sized trains and airplanes. FULL SIZED.
- Valois — Obama loves this place so much they’ve named a special after him. The cafeteria is packed with Hyde Parkers on weekend mornings, and you can smell the bacon frying all the way from Lake Michigan.
Just Southwest of the Loop is Pilsen. Named after the Czech city Plzeň, it’s now the hub of the city’s Latin community. Pilsen is super-duper full of wall-art and there are murals everywhere (Like this one at the CTA stop). It was made a National Historic Register District in 2006. To get there from Hyde Park, it’s best to go to the Loop via the Red Line or the #6 Bus, and then take the #60 or transfer to the Pink Line, and get off at Pilsen.
- Nuevo Léon — The best Mexican food we’ve ever had in Chicago. And it’s cheap. 10 dollars per person will probably mean leftovers. Un caveat, it’s cash only. Bonus-they have those table mats that you can color in with crayons.
- National Museum of Mexican Art — It’s free. Yay for free things! It has the largest collection of Mexican Art in the country and yet somehow you can do justice to it in a couple of hours. It’s awesome so don’t miss it.
- Second Fridays — THE BEST THING EVER. Every second friday of the month over 30 art galleries and stores open their doors to the public and serve free food and beverages (sometimes you get really fancy cheese). You see all the new exhibitions of Chicago’s upcoming artists. The crowd is always super artsy and young. It’s like one big block party.
- Knee Deep Vintage — In a city with great vintage shops, this may be the best vintage shop. It’s inventory feels like the Requirement Room in Hogwarts and if you go on Second Fridays then you can hit their Midnight Sale where everything is 25%-50% off from 6pm to midnight.
(Photo Credit-Señor Codo)
Located right by the lake, LP is named after the large and beautiful park that surrounds it (and has completely outgrown it). You’ll find that Second City, good restaurants and the Chicago History museum are all within walking distance of the Fullerton Red Line stop - an easy way to get there from UChicago.
- Molly’s Cupcakes — the best cupcakes on the North Side. Try the Cookie Monster (real cookie dough!) or the Peach Cobbler.
- Lincoln Park Zoo — free, which makes it the best zoo ever in our book. Of all of the 1200 animals, make sure to watch the Polar Bear swim laps in his pool.
- Bourgeois Pig — a Chicago cafe unlike any other, the BP is in two halves of an old house with an 18th Century feel and sandwiches named after literary masterpieces and historical figures. Try the banana nutella milkshake or the “Great Gatsby” while you do your Hume readings.
You know we’ll always love Hyde Park (because hey, that’s home) - but the best thing about living in Chicago is that you have the chance to explore it. This city is made up of many distinct neighborhoods, all easily accessible by public transport and bursting with different restaurants, shops and cultures. Over the next few weeks, we’ll post about them.
P.s. If you’re excited about O-Week, Class of 2016, get excited about this day: buses will take you to each neighborhood in the city, and then you’ll all meet up at the end of the day to share adventures on the top of the John Hancock Tower while you eat good food and watch the sun set.