South Loop – Chicago, IL

With its close proximity to both downtown and the waterfront, South Loop provides an extremely attractive landscape for residency. Located just south of central downtown Chicago, South Loop encapsulates most of the area of Grant Park and borders the coast of Lake Michigan. In South Loop, residents never suffer from boredom; the neighborhood acts as home to some of the city's finest museums, parks, annual events and restaurants. As a community of musicians, businessmen, politicians and artists, the diverse demographics of the area provide an infectious energy to all who live there. The typical South Loop resident represents a young, ambitious professional who loves to stay active and participate in a buzzing urban lifestyle.

Schools in South Loop

School data provided by GreatSchools

Restaurants & Nightlife

Cafecito is a Cuban cafe that serves coffee, tea and pressed sandwiches, such as the ropa vieja and jerk chicken sandwich, alongside delicious desserts, including the tres leches cake. Due to the low prices and high-quality food, lines are often long during the lunch rush, so plan accordingly from late-morning to mid-afternoon. As a hot spot for jazz musicians, South Loop contains multiple opportunities to see some incredible musicians play live. Buddy Guy's Legends has hosted some of the biggest names in music over the years, such as Eric Clapton and David Bowie. Expect to hear quality soul music when visiting this long-time local favorite that specializes in jazz and blues. Stop by on a weekday for a break from the office, and grab the 12 noon to 2 p.m. lunch special while you listen to a live acoustic musician. For a good place to grab a beer and watch the White Sox game, head to Kasey's Tavern and join other locals in rooting for the home team. Kasey's keeps the sports drinker in mind and specializes in two things: a selection of beer on tap and an extensive menu of frozen pizzas. The food combines with multiple big-screen TVs on the interior to produce a lively sports bar. The M Lounge serves as the neighborhood's trendiest place to sip a cocktail after work. The interior boasts plush couches and dimly lit candles, setting the mood for a classy night on the town. Visitors with a sweet tooth enjoy the creative mixed drink options, such as the chocolate-covered banana or lemon meringue martini. Stop by on a Wednesday night to listen to a live Jazz set. Although it requires a decent walk from the center of South Loop, Brando's Speakeasy proves to be the place to go to let loose on the dance floor. Perfect for hosting small parties for a bachelor or bachelorette, the bar offers $5 martini options with a karaoke stage.

History & Culture

The South Loop's residential area thrived for years until the Great Fire of 1871 destroyed many of the homes. Railroad construction aided in the reconstruction and invigoration of the neighborhood following the damage, and it brought new residents and businesses to the area. The year 1901 marked the grand opening of Grant Park. This park would soon become the heart and livelihood of the neighborhood. South Loop has since acted as home to many great Chicago residents. Some noteworthy names include Former Mayor of Chicago Richard M. Daley and NBA player Juwan Howard. Museums represent South Loop's biggest legacies and strengths. The Museum Campus grounds allow access to the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium. If you plan to visit the Field Museum, keep in mind that temporary exhibits coming through the museum draw big crowds, and purchase tickets well in advance. When it comes to providing a thriving arts scene, South Loop doesn't disappoint. Arie Crown Theatre at McCormick Place and the Auditorium Theater act as the two main play venues. For cheaper rates, catch a performance at The Music Center, the performance venue for Columbia College's music and theater students. The annual events that occur in South Loop have built a reputation over time. Huge festivals draw crowds for live music and local cuisine. Music festivals represent the neighborhood's biggest strength. However, the neighborhood hosts other festivals worth seeing. Manifest Urban Arts Festival serves as a showcase for Columbia College's students. This festival in particular displays new, cutting-edge sounds with four music stages and an extended art walk.


South Loop sits in a prime location for train travel in the city. Receiving service from three CTA lines, the neighborhood contains two train stations, one on Harrison Street and the other on Roosevelt Road. If given the option, go through the Roosevelt station, as this provides free and easy transfer between the Orange and Green lines to the Red Line subway. If you are headed for a plane, the Orange line takes 30 minutes with only six stops separating South Loop and Midway Airport. Multiple bus lines service the neighborhood. With so many public transportation options, owning a car might seem unnecessary. Be this as it may, car owners hold the daily benefit of enjoying the scenic views of Lake Shore Drive, which runs along the coast of Lake Michigan. The I-90/94 highway borders the western edge of the neighborhood and gives easy access to drivers who need to commute further distances. The neighborhood's close proximity to the lakefront and parks results in an abundance of bike paths for commuting. The trails in Grant Park turn walking to work into a peaceful commute. If work happens to be further west, the sidewalks through the neighborhood and into the city still provide ample walking spaces for pedestrians. Unsurprisingly, parking prices remain high in this city neighborhood. Unless you have dedicated spaces at work and your home, the lack of parking may be reason enough to sell a motor vehicle in exchange for taking public transport. Cabs frequent the area looking for passengers, and Uber also services the neighborhood.


Median rent for a one-bedroom in South Loop rests around $1,800, an amount higher than the city average at $1,620 per month. While rent can be expensive, the biggest expenses for South Loop pertain to cost of living. With its close proximity to both the waterfront and downtown Chicago, prices for entertainment and food can run a little steep.


South Loop contains stores and boutiques for shopping spread throughout the area rather than confining the shops to a central area of commerce. Florodora displays local designs with a vintage theme. While this boutique sells pricey items, the designer pieces fit into a category of their own with no two items alike. For tighter budgets, find bargains at DSW Shoe Warehouse on trendy brands of shoes and accessories. Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Urban Market all serve the area as local grocery stores. For a bit more variety, check out South Loop Market, where you can find everything from aged cheeses to Boar's Head meat. Known to be more expensive than the average grocery, South Loop Market excels at providing innovative options such as craft beers and local cupcakes. Every Saturday during summertime, Printer's Row Park Farmers Market offers fresh, local produce. Despite the market's small size, the prices for fruits and vegetables beat most large grocery stores.


Affectionately named Chicago's "front yard," Grant Park is the primary destination for outdoor activities in the neighborhood. Stretching a total of 319 acres, the park hosts many annual events and festivals for the city of Chicago. Other notable parks include Northerly Island and Burnham Park, with the latter bordering Soldier Field stadium. Locals and visitors alike visit these parks for their scenic views of Lake Michigan and wide open spaces. Grant Park provides the greatest number of options when it comes to outdoor sports, with plenty of baseball fields, tennis courts and walking trails. Many people visit Northerly Island for its open-air amphitheater called Charter One Pavilion, which hosts large performances and concerts during summer months. All of South Loop's parks cost nothing to enter, and most services besides food and beverage purchases are also free. Burnham Park holds sway as the most dog-friendly park of the area, with a multitude of bike paths, walking paths and open fields for frisbee or fetch. Grant Park also represents a prime location for dogs due to its large size and freedom of space. All parks remain kid-friendly, but Burnham Park may top the others due to its man-made sledding hill. South Loop buzzes with activity throughout the year but especially in summertime. Grant Park welcomes numerous festivals throughout these warmer months, including Taste of Chicago, The Grant Park Music Festival, Lollapalooza and the Chicago Marathon. Every year, these events attract thousands of visitors to the neighborhood. At the northeast corner of Grant Park lies Daley Bicentennial Plaza, which contains some of the best exercise equipment and facilities in the area. Daley Bicentennial Plaza offers a full fitness center with everything you might need for your workout.
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