Chicago may be affectionately called The Second City but it easily slides into first place when you consider its vast number of neighborhoods and the distinct vibe each one possesses.
Lincoln Park and its score of enclaves epitomize this. With a lush and historic 1,200-acre park at its center, this district is famous for its verdant beauty, immense public zoo, and a slew of beaches, harbors, and trails. Toss in a smattering of world-class music venues, museums, restaurants, and theaters, and you can see why Lincoln Park is considered one of the most desirable places to live in Chicago.1
Whether you’re scouting out luxury apartments in River North or planning a weekend trip to The Windy City, take a stroll through this guide for an inside look at what makes Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood extraordinary.
The not-so-basic basics about Chicago Lincoln Park
Electrifying. Thriving. Intriguing. Gorgeous. There are a dozen ways to describe this hip hamlet. But just as you wouldn’t date someone based entirely on their profile pic, it’s vital to glean a bit more insight into this Chicago neighborhood and its characteristics before arriving for a visit or moving to it.
- Location – Lincoln Park is just minutes away from North Avenue Beach and is ideally situated on the shores of Lake Michigan—a massive freshwater beauty that spans 22,300 square miles—north of downtown and near Chicago’s legendary Loop. This makes it an optimal spot for commuters who want to be close to Chicago’s hottest action but far enough away to savor serenity on a daily basis. The lake and Loop (Downtown Chicago) aren’t the only attractions nearby, either—just south, you’ll find a selection of super-fun dive bars in Old Town and posh boutiques, art galleries, and eateries in River North.
- Population – The most recent statistics show that Lincoln Park has slightly over 70,000 residents, rendering it rather small and tight-knit when you take into account that the greater Chicago area is home to 2.7 million people.2
- History – Lincoln Park’s regal mood isn’t mere happenstance. Formerly known as Cemetery Park and Lake Park, it was rechristened in 1865 to pay homage to President Abraham Lincoln. The former burial grounds for those who perished from cholera now house some of the most striking pieces of architecture in the country, including Cafe Brauer, a 1908 structure designed by Dwight Perkins.3
- Neighborhoods – The boundaries of Lincoln Park, Chicago are a bit vague but one fact remains: It’s composed of three square miles and boasts a bevy of micro-neighborhoods. College students and young entrepreneurs, and professionals tend to surround DePaul University, while bustling families and the well-heeled set can be found in the well-preserved brownstones and townhomes around Armitage Avenue.
- Schools – School-aged children in Lincoln Park are served under the City of Chicago School District 299. Several of the top-rated public and private institutions include Payton College Preparatory High School, Jones College Prep High School, Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, and Northside College Preparatory High School.4
What you’ll find in Lincoln Park
Compile a list of the traits you’d like to find in your neighborhood, and Lincoln Park may just meet—if not surpass—your expectations.
Chi-Town is frequently deemed one of the most titillating cities—not just in the country but also in the world. From an opulent opera house and the famed Wrigley Field to award-winning restaurants and homes that date back to the 1800s, the city practically seeps history, beauty, and culture from its pores.5 The Lincoln Park neighborhood is a microcosm of this.
Lincoln Park Zoo
Lincoln Park Zoo may be praised as one of the only zoos in the U.S. that offers complimentary admission, but this popular place is about so much more than the free entrance.6
Founded in 1868 with four swans, the 35-acre expanse features everything from Japanese macaques—commonly known as Snow Monkeys—to a lion cub named Pilipili. No matter how many times you visit this zoo, you’re bound to discover something riveting and new.
Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool
Chicagoans keen on catching their breath and relishing some tranquility often head to Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, a National Historic Landmark complete with a waterfall and stunning stonework.7 Bring a book or nothing at all; this is the perfect place to escape Chicago’s hustle and bustle.
Lincoln Park Conservatory
Chicago is notorious for its winter chill but the glacial temps will be but a memory the moment you step inside the 150-plus-year-old Lincoln Park Conservatory. Here, you’ll find an impressive collection of exquisite tropical plants, including:8
- Cacao trees
- Papaya trees
- Dwarf sugar palms
Open to the public, and with free admission, this is another go-to spot for a healthy dose of peace and quiet.
Chicago History Museum
As the oldest city in the Prairie State, Chicago has a rich, storied history. This museum in Lincoln Park is the place to get acquainted with it. Showcasing photographs by the acclaimed Vivian Maier—a nanny-turned-street photographer who has been praised for capturing authentic America—it allows visitors to step back in time and witness the most significant moments in Chicago’s past.9
Lincoln Park’s culinary scene
Chicago may be synonymous with deep-dish pizzas and, while the pies in Lincoln Park are certainly unforgettable (check out the iconic Pequod’s Pizza for evidence), this trendy ‘hood offers eateries with cuisine from all around the globe, as well as cafes boasting dishes that evoke your grandmother’s kitchen. A few of the best restaurants in Lincoln Park, Chicago include:
- Batter & Berries – With its cheerful, bright yellow awning and friendly service, Batter & Berries is many a Lincoln Park resident’s favorite haunt. The fashionable brunch spot is famous for its French toast flights( think: lemon zest with sumac and candied walnuts, dulce de leche, and strawberry) but their waffles and omelets are just as delectable.
- Alinea – Awarded not one but three coveted Michelin stars, Alinea is your answer when you’re searching for a restaurant suitable for celebrating a special occasion. The multiple-award-winning eatery is all about nuance, texture, and inventive flavors; lobster with Earl gray and grapefruit, lily bulbs with Rambatan and distilled caviar lime, and Dungeness crab with cardamom and saffron are just three of the masterpieces you might sample on their dazzling, avant-garde tasting menu.
- Chicago’s Dog House – Chicago and hot dogs go hand-in-hand—or, rather, the sights of Chicago take on a new brilliance when you have a hot dog in hand. This particular stand in Lincoln Park perpetuates The Windy City’s rep as one of the best places to grab a Polish sausage smothered in onions, relish, and yellow mustard. With gluten-free and vegan options available, even the most discerning eater in your crew will be delighted.
A huge part of Chicago’s allure? The city’s fantastic nightlife. Whether you’re in the mood to sip on a whiskey at a speakeasy or dance to Nu-Disco in a turn-of-the-century building, Lincoln Park and its nearby nabes boom with excitement.
J. Parker Rooftop
Situated in the Hotel Lincoln, the J. Parker Rooftop provides spellbinding, panoramic views of the city and a cocktail menu packed with potent libations, such as the:
- 86 Temperance with “Blood Shiraz” gin, Lambrusco, Mile High gin, grapefruit, lime, and pine cone sap (you heard that right)
- Two on a Raft with banana liqueur, chestnut orgeat, tequila, Luxardo maraschino, and an Absinthe rinse
Kingston Mines’ M.O. is to hear blues, drink booze, talk loud—you’re among friends!10 This motto encapsulates its whole ambiance. As the oldest jazz and blues club in Chicago, it has showcased some of the greatest musicians since its inception in 1968. Kingston Mines continues the tradition today with live music until 4 AM every night of the week.
There are so many things to do in Lincoln Park, including a wealth of first-rate shopping opportunities. Locals frequently flock to the luxe boutiques that surround Armitage and Halsted, where you can pick up craft beer, a pint of housemade ice cream, and a fresh salad at Foxtrot market, custom design your own leather bag at Laudi Vidni, stock up on high-quality stationery at Elizabeth Grace, or discover a fabulous new coat or the perfect gift at any of the small shops located in the region’s historic row houses. The area is also home to several well-known brands, like:
- New Balance
Besides the bougie Foxtrot, there are several markets located in Lincoln Park, including Trader Joe’s, Aldi, Target Grocery, and Whole Foods. Translation? You won’t have to go far to fetch your eats and supplies.
Discover the sweet life in Lincoln Park with Common
Chicago has a host of stellar neighborhoods—one hundred, to be exact—and Lincoln Park is one of its most beautiful and enticing.11 Striking an ideal balance between chic and historic and casual and refined, it abounds with splendid housing and equally splendid restaurants, shops, and attractions.
Common can transform your visions of living in Lincoln Park into a reality—complete with fully-furnished coliving homes, regular cleaning, and even a community app. Our Chicago coliving homes are equipped with the amenities and necessities you need so that you can turn your attention to discovering all that the enclave has to offer.
- Time Out. Lincoln Park, Chicago neighborhood guide. https://www.timeout.com/chicago/lincoln-park
- Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. Lincoln Park. https://www.cmap.illinois.gov/documents/10180/126764/Lincoln+Park.pdf
- Chicago Architecture Center. Lincoln park. https://www.architecture.org/learn/resources/buildings-of-chicago/building/lincoln-park/
- Niche. 2023 best schools in Lincoln Park. https://www.niche.com/k12/search/best-schools/n/lincoln-park-chicago-il/
- Chicago. Cultural affairs and special events. https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/clarke_house_museum.html
- Lincoln Park Zoo. Lincoln park zoo. https://www.lpzoo.org/
- Choose Chicago. Alfred Caldwell Lily Pond. https://www.choosechicago.com/listing/alfred-caldwell-lily-pool/
- Chicago Park District. Lincoln park conservatory. https://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks-facilities/lincoln-park-conservatory/
- BBC. Vivian maier: the elusive genius who hid herself away. https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20200902-vivian-maier-the-elusive-genius-who-hid-herself-away
- Choose Chicago. Kingston Mines. https://www.choosechicago.com/listing/kingston-mines/
- Chicago. Facts & statistics. https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/about/facts.html