Near North Side – Chicago, IL

Known for its affluent population, high-end shopping and high concentration of skyscrapers, the Near North Side gives residents the good life. Many residents choose the Near North Side for its walking-distance proximity to offices in Chicago's main commercial area, while others enjoy its lively nightlife and high-energy atmosphere. Some of the newest and most exciting restaurants in the city perch in the Near North Side, making the neighborhood a foodie's dream. Situated in Chicago's downtown, the Chicago River borders the Near North Side on the southern and western sides, and Lake Michigan lies to the east. North Avenue forms the northern boundary. Residents have easy access to the theaters in the Loop to the south and the many bars and restaurants in Lincoln Park to the north.

Schools in Near North Side

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Restaurants & Nightlife

From Michelin-starred restaurants to dive bars, the Near North Side houses a staggering array of places to eat, drink, and dance until the wee hours. Though the bulk of restaurants are priced at the higher end of the scale, but the neighborhood also offers ample chain outlets and fast food locations. Restaurants exist on almost every street, with a higher concentration on the streets that run east and west from Michigan Avenue. Sip a glass of Argyros Atlantis wine at the Purple Pig while you dive into a gourmet twist on the BLT made with crispy pork jowl instead of bacon. Known for its charcuterie and expansive cheese selection, this packed restaurant has stunning views of the Chicago River and excellent late-night plates. Esquire magazine recommends that diners opt for the banquette seating and try the Sicilian Iris dessert. Take a date to Bavette's Bar & Boeuf and enjoy the candlelit atmosphere while you sample a Lilet Rose martini. Try the baked goat cheese appetizer and bring your appetite for the prime bone-in filet with bearnaise sauce. On weekend mornings, Near North Side residents flock to Farmhouse to partake of its legendary brunch menu. Wash down a porchetta croissant sandwich with a cheese curd-garnished Bloody Mary or one of the restaurant's many craft beers. The menu changes regularly to include seasonally available ingredients and the homey brick interior buzzes with conversation at all hours. When the sun goes down, the Near North Side comes alive with music. Dance and drink until 4 a.m. at the Wonder Under Bar, which features live bands and performances by owner Lonie Walker. The cavernous venue hides behind an unassuming facade on North Clark Street. Head to Cuvee for some celebrity spotting, or join the locals for a casual evening at the Near North Side's many sports bars.

History & Culture

In 1871, a significant portion of the Near North Side burned in the Great Chicago Fire. The Chicago Water Tower on Michigan Avenue was one of the only buildings left standing after the fire. The city rebuilt over the next two decades, making the Near North Side into a major hub for commerce and culture. At one point, Olympic medalist and World War II hero Robert Halperin called the neighborhood home. Famous buildings include the Gothic revival Chicago Tribune Tower and the 1960s-era Marina City towers. Visitors and residents bring families to enjoy the interactive exhibits at the Chicago Children's Museum provides interactive exhibits for kids, while adults head for the quieter Museum of Contemporary Art. On the Navy Pier, the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre provides year-round plays and musicals. The Near North Side hosts a variety of festivals and city events, including the Chicago Toy and Game Fair and the PNC Bank Winter WonderFest. In the fall, bring a handmade sign and your best shouting voice to cheer on runners in the Chicago Marathon.


As one of Chicago's four downtown neighborhoods, the Near North Side links to all types of transportation. The Red, Brown and Purple train lines run north and south, connecting residents to the Loop and the northern suburbs. Numerous bus lines run throughout the area. You can catch taxis easily on the street during the day; call in advance on weekend evenings and holidays. Alternatively, use Uber to schedule a ride from any point in the Near North Side. Traffic can be heavy during major city events such as the Chicago Marathon, so opt for public transportation. The easily accessible path along Lake Michigan draws residents on the east side, which makes bike commuting a breeze. Bikers take advantage of multiple bike paths and clearly marked bike lines. The Near North Side's pedestrian-friendliness means that many residents choose to walk to work. Many residents of the Near North Side own cars and rent private parking spaces. Public parking structures lie at the south end of the neighborhood, near the tourist-oriented Magnificent Mile. Overnight rates generally hover around $50 for a 24-hour period. Interstates 90/94 lurk less than 3 miles from most points in the Near North Side, making it easy to get out of the city.


With its luxurious high-rise apartment buildings and glamorous atmosphere, the Near North Side doesn't have much in the way of bargains. Most apartments are studios, one-bedrooms or two-bedrooms; very few units have three or more bedrooms. The number of owners nearly equals the number of renters, but renters occupy the majority of units in the Near North Side. An average one-bedroom apartment rents for between $1,800 and $1,900, higher than the city average. The neighborhood's high-end dining, shopping and entertainment make the Near North Side one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city.


The Near North Side's shopping options range from Old Navy to Prada. Most retail outlets sprout up along the East Walton Street and the Magnificent Mile, the stretch of North Michigan Avenue that runs from the Chicago River to Oak Street. Head to the 900 North Michigan Shops for high-end retailers including Gucci and Max Mara. Give your wallet a break at Water Tower Place, with shopping mall standards such as Banana Republic and Abercrombie. Major national and worldwide brands occupy the bulk of the stores in the Near North Side. When it comes to groceries and household staples, the Near North Side has you covered. Head to East Ontario Street to find Trader Joe's, a local favorite for inexpensive produce and packaged goods. For quality meats and organic fare, choose Whole Foods Market on West Huron Street. In the summer, leash up your dog and head to the Near North Farmers Market, where you can eat a homemade egg-and-waffle sandwich while chatting with local farmers about their produce.


Several parks spread throughout the Near North Side area, giving residents easy access to green space. If you're feeling athletic, head to Stanton Park and use the outdoor basketball courts, indoor pool and gym. Families in the Near North Side enjoy the kid-friendly Seward Park, which houses a dance studio, a playground and organized sporting events throughout the year. Walk your dogs at the dog-friendly area in the A. Montgomery Ward Park on North Kingsbury Street. The bottom edge of Lincoln Park extends into the neighborhood, providing a long stretch of lakefront trail for running and biking. Locals flock to Oak Street Beach in the summer for sand volleyball, swimming and excellent views of the Chicago skyline. The beach hosts professional volleyball tournaments and makes an ideal place to watch the annual Chicago Air Show. Leave your dogs and beer at home; neither can come to the beach. Oak Street Beach, along with all other public parks in the Near North Side, cost nothing to enter.
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