A guide of what to do in the Gold Coast, a Chicago neighborhood along Lake Michigan known for luxurious shopping and dining.
The Gold Coast is one of the best areas for shopping. As you walk north, the Gold Coast becomes more and more residential, with some of the most desirable streets in Chicago being located in the Gold Coast. You can also find a handful of wonderful restaurants here.
Where is the Gold Coast?
The Gold Coast is a small neighborhood on the North Side of Chicago. It’s located along Lake Michigan and borders Streeterville, Old Town, and Lincoln Park. Its boundaries are Chicago Avenue to the south, North Avenue to the north, Clark Street to the west, and Lake Michigan.
What is the “Viagra Triangle”?
Within the Gold Coast you will find an area that locals call the “Viagra Triangle”. This triangular section of the Gold Coast where State Street, Oak Street, and Rush Street form a triangle is where you can find restaurants like Gibsons, Hugo’s, and Tavern on Rush where older gentlemen are known to hang out and look for younger women.
What to do in the Gold Coast
Oak Street Beach
This smaller beach along Lake Michigan is home to the Oak Street Beach Cafe and volleyball courts. The beach is located just beside the city skyline.
The Lakefront Path
This path alongside Lake Michigan runs through several neighborhoods. The southern end of the path is in the Gold Coast – this section of the path offers great views of the Chicago skyline.
An independent research library specializing in the humanities that is free and open to the public. the Newberry Library is housed in a Spanish Romanesque style building and is located on Washington Square.
Museum of Contemporary Art
This museum has a collection that includes painting, photography, sculpture, mixed media, installation, performance, and moving image and sound spanning from 1920 to today. In addition to their permanent collection, MCA hosts a wide range of traveling exhibitions – some of which are hugely popular and require purchasing tickets in advance (such as the Bowie and Warhol exhibitions).
Walk Down Astor Street
This street is a historic district and home to some of the city’s most stunning mansions. I love walking down this street and admiring the homes. The north end of the street will leave you near North Avenue Beach and at the start of Lincoln Park (the park).
The observation deck of the John Hancock Tower has some of the best views of Chicago. As the name suggests, you can see 360 degree views of Chicago including Lake Michigan, the skyline, and the Willis Tower (formerly called the Sears Tower).
This bar and restaurant is also located within the John Hancock Tower. It’s on the 95th floor and stopping for a drink and admiring the view is a fun alternative to going to 360 Chicago or the top of the Willis Tower.
See the Original Playboy Mansion
The first Playboy Mansion was located at 1340 N State Street. You can’t go inside as it is a private residence, but it’s fun to see this beautiful home.
This multi-level Starbucks is the largest in the world. Starbucks Reserves are more experiential and don’t have the same menu as other traditional Starbucks locations. Here you can learn about how coffee is roasted, participate in a coffee tasting, or try different menu items.
Where to Eat in the Gold Coast
3 Arts Club Café
Located in the elegant sunlit courtyard of the massive Restoration Hardware flagship store, this restaurant is open all day serving brunch and dinner. The food is upscale American and delicious.
A seafood focused Italian restaurant with homemade pastas and whole roasted fish.
Blue Door Kitchen & Garden
Helmed by Chef Art Smith who was once Oprah’s personal chef, this restaurant blends a more formal atmosphere with approachable food like chicken and waffles. I love the outdoor garden space too.
Tavern on Rush
The large sidewalk patio of Tavern on Rush is one of the best spots of people watching. The restaurant specializes in steak, seafood, and American cuisine.
One of Chicago’s most iconic steakhouses, Gibsons is the place to go for the classic steakhouse experience. If you happen to dine at Gibsons on a Saturday, save room for a slice of the Meaning of Life Cake, a giant 5 layer chocolate cake.
Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House
A sister restaurant to Gibson’s and located just next door, Hugo’s Frog Bar emphasizes seafood but still has steak on the menu. Generally, I think that the atmosphere at Hugo’s is a little more laid back than Gibsons.
This James Beard Award winning restaurant within the grand Waldorf Astoria, this is a great place for a special occasion meal. We’ve been for brunch and dinner and I can’t say enough good things about this place. The food is traditional French and Charles loves their French Onion Soup.
I adore this restaurant. It’s our go-to for date nights and the service and menu always impress me. We love the ricotta dumplings, the burger, and the roast chicken.
Le Colonial is an elegant Vietnamese-French restaurant that serves lunch and dinner. The cuisine is as sophisticated as the decor and I’ve always had a great meal here.
I love the burger at this bar. When it comes to places to eat in the heart of the Gold Coast, Luxbar is one of the more casual options, but as a sister restaurant to Gibsons and Hugo’s the food the excellent.
Velvet Taco is known for their inventive tacos. I love the buffalo chicken taco, the chicken tikka taco, and the bacon cheeseburger taco. The atmosphere is fast casual, I tend to get delivery.
This food hall is located on the upper floors of the 900 North Michigan Shops. The Bar & Study offers a more formal dining experience while the 5th floor has casual seating and walk up food stalls. The hall has over a dozen food options including Small Cheval, Green Street Smoked Meats, and 3 Greens Market.
Where to Shop in the Gold Coast
900 North Michigan Shops
This is an upscale mall where you will find shops like Bloomingdales, Kate Spade, Gucci, MaxMara, and Michael Kors.
Water Tower Place
A mall with shops like American Girl Place, Abercrombie & Fitch, Free People, Macy’s, and Sephora.
In addition to 900 North Michigan Shops and Water Tower Place many high-end designers have flagship stores in the Gold Coast including Hermes, Ted Baker, St. John, Tom Ford, Dior, and more.
Where to Stay in the Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is a smaller neighborhood so there aren’t many hotels, but luckily the hotel options are luxurious.
This large grand hotel is right in the center of the Gold Coast putting you within walking distance to shopping and restaurants.
Tucked away on a quiet park of State Street, the Ambassador is a boutique hotel that is part of the Hyatt family.
One of Chicago’s most iconic hotels, The Drake is where celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Diana, and Judy Garland. The hotel is just beside the lakefront and many rooms have views of Lake Michigan.
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What to do in Wicker Park
What to do in the Gold Coast
What to do in River North
What to do in Downtown Chicago/The Loop
What to do in Lakeview
What to do in Streeterville
What to do in Lincoln Park
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