A guide of what to do in Lincoln Park. This residential neighborhood in Chicago is known for its namesake park, wonderful restaurants, and locally owned boutiques.
The main hub of activity in Lincoln Park is the area where Armitage and Halsted intersect. That section of Armitage between the el stop and Halsted is filled with shops and restaurants, as are the blocks of Halstead both north and south of Armitage.
Lincoln Park (the park) occupies a large section of the neighborhood along the lakefront and is a area for recreational activity and home to the zoo.
Getting to Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park is a larger neighborhood and it has multiple el (train) stops. You can take the Brown Line to Armitage, Fullerton, or Diversey. Or you can take the Red Line to North/Clybourn.
Or you can take the metra to the Clybourn Station which is just across the river from Lincoln Park. (Note: this station is different from the Red Line Clybourn stop).
What to Do in Lincoln Park
The largest park in Chicago runs the entire length of Lincoln Park from North Avenue to Diversey Parkway and along the shore of Lake Michigan. The Lincoln Park Zoo, Lincoln Park Conservatory, and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum are all located within the park. Additionally, the park has many walking and biking trails, athletic fields, gardens, and ponds.
Green City Market
A large farmer’s market that takes place outside in Lincoln Park from May to October. The market is held on both Wednesdays and Saturdays from 7 am to 1 pm during these months. It can be very busy on weekends, so I recommend either going on Wednesday or going early on Sunday. The market has dozens of vendors selling fruits, vegetables, meat, fresh flowers, and ready to eat meals. They often have entertainment for children too.
During the colder months (November-April) the market is held inside at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum on Saturdays.
This large park gets its name from the Wizard of Oz themed sculptures throughout the park. The park has biking and walking trails, basketball courts, tennis courts, and playgrounds.
Lincoln Park Zoo
The Lincoln Park Zoo is free and open 365 days a year. It’s fun for people of all ages, and Chicago parents bring their children here for a fun and free activity. The zoo is home to animal species from around the globe including monkeys, camels, giraffes, zebras, polar bears, hippos, flamingos, and penguins. There is even a Farm-in-the-Zoo that has a dairy barn with goats and cows. This is a place where children can learn about taking care of farm animals.
The zoo hosts a variety of annual events including major happenings like Zoo Lights, Easter Egg hunts, craft beer tastings, food truck socials, and a wine festival. Plus there are weekly events for children such as sing alongs and
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
A natural history museum with a live butterfly house with 200 species of native and exotic butterflies. Visitors will also discover a collection of taxidermy animals, nature walks, and a reptile exhibit. This museum is geared towards children of all ages with lots of hands on activities.
Lincoln Park Conservatory
A botanical garden within Lincoln Park. The conservatory has four houses which display exotic plants, orchids, and plants needed for the gardens within Lincoln Park. Admission is free.
Theater on the Lake
A historic theater with views of Lake Michigan, Theater on the Lake is a summertime theater venue with a restaurant that is open all year.
A smaller concert venue where I have seen acts like Trombone Shorty and Ingrid Michaelson. I love this venue because it’s smaller size and tendency to book acts that appeal to a slightly older audience makes for a more grown up concert going experience.
One of the best blues bars in Chicago. Like at all blues bars in Chicago, expect to pay a cover. Live music usually starts at 8 pm and goes as late as 2:30 am.
A concert venue with an in-house bar and restaurant. The building has been around since 1912 and the theater is known for showcasing emerging talent.
An ensemble theater that puts on up to 16 plays and up to 700 performances on their three stages each year. The theater company was founded in 1974 and has produced several plays that have gone on to win Tony Awards including August: Osage County. The theater’s commitment to working with playwrights sets this theater apart as a place to see new plays.
Where to Eat in Lincoln Park
Many of these restaurants (Summer House Santa Monica, Stella Barra, Cafe Ba Ba Reeba, and Mon Ami Gabi) are all owned by Lettuce Entertain You, which means that they have gluten-free menus available.
Summer House Santa Monica
A big bright beautiful restaurant where it feels like summer all year long. They are known for their rosé cart, their homemade sweet treats, and their California inspired menu. Lunch and dinner is served on weekdays and on weekends they are open all day serving brunch and dinner. The menu has a mix of soups, salads, pasta, and meaty mains.
Blue Door Farm Stand
What started out as a small cafe focused on serving salads and sandwiches has grown into a two-level restaurant on Halsted Street. The salad are still exceptional; I love both the cobb and the kale and brussels. It’s also one of the best places for brunch and they do take brunch reservations.
Mon Ami Gabi
A French restaurant on the edge of Lincoln Park. Somehow when you are there you don’t feel like you are in Chicago anymore. The menu features classic French cuisine including a large selection of steak frites, beef bourguignon, and onions soup topped with gruyere. This is a great place for a romantic meal.
An Italian restaurant beside Summer House Santa Monica (they share an entrance) that specializes in pizzas and pastas. The thin crust Italian style pizzas are some of my favorite in Chicago.
Go here. Order the Kalamata Chicken and thank me later. This meal is legendary in Chicago. The chicken is moist on the inside and crispy on the outside and it’s served on a bed of thick crunchy fries drowned in a vinegary sauce. If you don’t want to try the chicken, the menu has many Greek specialties including gyros, greek salads, taramasalata, and spanakopita. They don’t take reservations so you might have to wait for a table.
Our go to brunch restaurant has a location in Lincoln Park as well. This diner has a large menu with something for everyone.
Café Ba Ba Reeba
A Spanish restaurant known for serving tapas, paella, and sangria. I’ve been dozens of times and it remains one of my favorite restaurants. We love the bacon wrapped dates, the Spanish omelet, the patatas bravas, and the beef tenderloin topped with blue cheese.
If you want to try Chicago style pizza, this is the place. Their pizza stands apart from all the rest because of their caramelized parmesan crust. Pequod’s is known for their pan pizza (Chicago style) but they also serve thin crust pizza, sandwiches, and pasta.
This three star Michelin restaurant is considered to be the best restaurant in the country. Dining at Alinea is an experience, Chef Grant Achatz is known for wildly creative cuisine that takes advantage of molecular gastronomy. Tickets to Alinea must be purchased in advance and the meals are multi course (about 15-17 course) productions that will keep you on your toes all night.
A casual pizza joint with a patio in the back. The menu features bar food classics and plenty of slices. Definitely a fun place to go with a group of friends.
Parson’s Chicken & Fish
This restaurant is known for their negroni slushies and their fried chicken sandwiches. The Lincoln Park location is a short walk from the DePaul campus.
The restaurant got its start as a food truck and now they have a couple of brick and mortar locations. My go to order is the Buffalo Chicken sandwich (hold the bun) and an order of the insanely delicious truffle fries. Definitely one of the best lunches you can get in Chicago.
Sweet Mandy B’s
A bakery known for making old fashioned desserts. They serve a wide variety of cupcakes and cakes, plus brownies, bars, cookies, pies, and morning pastries.
Where to Shop in Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park has a variety of shopping options. Armitage and Halsted have a mix of locally owned boutiques and national retailers. The section of Lincoln Park by the Clyborn red line stop (which probably needs to be declared its own neighborhood) is home to many major furniture stores and some chain clothing stores like JCrew and Anthropologie. I’m focusing more on the locally owed shops that are unique to Chicago.
A boutique with a mix of gifts, jewelry, clothing, and home goods. It’s the type of store where you find things you won’t see anywhere else.
Monica and Andy
A locally owned store that specializes in clothing for babies and children. They also offer a series of parenting classes and weekly music events for children.
This shop specializes in men’s accessories and shirts. It’s an affordable place to buy ties, pocket squares, cufflinks, and more.
Buy luxurious and unique chocolates at this shop. The caramels, truffles, and toffee are all exceptional. This is a great place to buy gifts.
You can create your own perfume at this store on Hasted Street. Custom scents range in price from $30-$60.
Read It & Eat
A bookstore that specializes in cookbooks! They also host cooking demos and other events.
All She Wrote
This shop sells gifts, invitations, and stationery. It’s a great place to shop for wedding and shower gifts.
The sneaker brand known for their cosy washable sneakers has a flagship store on Armitage Street.
A furniture store that sells one-of-a-kind vintage finds, custom furniture, lighting, home accessories, plants, and more. I like that they include both more modern and traditional styles in their inventory.
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