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12 Best Neighborhoods in Chicago, IL 2021

By: Davina Ward
July 29, 2021

Chicago is undoubtedly one of the best cities in America, and clearly has a lot to offer. Whether it's the rich cultural scene, stunning skyline or delciious food... renters love Chicago.

The city attracts renters from all over the world. It’s often high on the list of renters looking to relocate.

However, it can be challenging to determine whether Chicago is right for you! It's a large city with many distinct neighborhoods, each offering their own look and feel.

Take advantage of the free self-guided tours offered through the Chicago Greeter program. These tours are designed to guide you through your adventure through the city. They're especially useful for those who want to learn more about a neighborhood before moving there!

That said, if you’re determined to move to Chicago, it’s important to choose a neighborhood that’s right for you. Luckily, the city offers a plethora of unique neighborhoods. You’re certain to find one that’s a good fit for you. If you need a little help, don’t worry!

Here’s a list of the best neighborhoods in Chicago. Let’s dive in!

Bucktown

  • Walk score: 91
  • Transit Score: 73
  • Bike Score: 93

Bucktown is a popular Chicago neighborhood that's perfect for renters that enjoys entertainment and easy access to public transportation. The small but eclectic neighborhood features something for everyone when it comes to entertainment.

A music lover can stop at The Hideout as a spectator. There, you can experience performance art, music, poetry, and plays.

Perhaps you're more of an outdoor person. If that's the case, simply stop by the Bloomington Trail to run or bike on the elevated trail to catch gorgeous views of the city while working up a sweat.

If you're worried about safety, taking simple precautions is enough to keep you safe in Bucktown. Avoid walking alone at night. Stay informed about crime around your neighborhood by joining a block club.

Crime occurs at a higher rate than that of the suburbs in big cities. Being proactive is the best way to protect yourself regardless of where you are!

Logan Square

  • Walk score: 89
  • Transit Score: 68
  • Bike Score: 92

Today, Logan Square boasts a diverse neighborhood within the Chicago Boulevard System. Logan Square is a simply gorgeous neighborhood. Residents enjoy parks, the Logan Plaza, and historic structures.

It retains its past charm with flashes of the future. That includes access to the Bloomingdale Trail, the elevated trail beloved by Chicagoans. However, a simple walk around Logan Square is enough to please the eyes and get a little exercise.

As the home to numerous churches of various denominations, Logan Square is the perfect destination for the history buff or architecture lover. The Hairpin Arts Center and Congress Theater mark the neighborhood as a cultural and arts hub.

In recent years, Logan Square has been undergoing revitalization and restoration efforts to enhance the neighborhood's appeal even more. You'll have no trouble getting around either. Logan Square offers public transportation to O'Hare, Forest Park, North Lawndale, and downtown Chicago.

Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park is far more than a tourist destination. It's a robust neighborhood located around the crown jewel of the city. It's situated west of the famed Lincoln Park.

The Lincoln Park neighborhood residents can take in the luxurious views of the park, the Chicago River, or Lake Michigan from their living rooms.

However, it's not just a beautiful place to live. It’s also a prime location for anyone who enjoys outdoor activities or entertainment of any kind.

The park is home to the Lincoln Park zoo, the oldest free zoo in the country. It also features a host of trails and walkways. They’re perfect for taking in the changing leaves in the fall.

Additionally, the Lily Pond, conservatory, playing fields, and Chicago History Museum are all worth a visit.

Other benefits of living in the Lincoln Park neighborhood include access to public transportation. You’ll find the L Red, Purple, and Blue lines at three different stations. Keep in mind, this is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city!

West Loop

West Loop is the perfect neighborhood for a renter looking for a trendy foodie paradise. The recent revitalization of the neighborhood has transformed many old warehouses and manufacturing buildings into loft apartments and entertainment venues.

Located at the Chicago River's western bank, West Loop boasts views of calm waters and the city. It's also a prime location for a shopping spree that’ll take a hit to your bank account. There are many high-end shops, including Madewell and Maria Pinto (yes, that Maria Pinto!).

If you don't fancy yourself a fashionista, the neighborhood is ripe with gourmet dining opportunities. Famed restaurateurs, including Rick Bayless and Stephanie Izard, have set their restaurants in West Loop.

Residents and visitors frequently flock to West Loop's restaurants in droves. Foodie adventures abound in West Loop. However, there's a lot more to love about this neighborhood!

Hyde Park

  • Walk score: 86
  • Transit Score: 66
  • Bike Score: 91

Hyde Park is a famous Chicago neighborhood that is home to historic structures. The neighborhood has housed many of the most famous residents in American history, from Amelia Earhart to Chaka Khan.

It's no wonder these famous individuals made Hyde Park their home. You'll find the University of Chicago at the west end of the neighborhood.

You’ll also find the Museum of Science and Industry to the east. The massive museum is one of the largest in the world. It’s located within the last remaining building from Chicago's World Fair in 1893. The historic Fair marked the founding of Hyde Park.

The University of Chicago attracts great minds and tends to produce individuals who go far in the field of Law, including presidents and Supreme Court Justices.

Those who are fascinated by history can visit the DuSable Museum of African American history within Washington Park. It's a neighborhood that's as rich in history as it is in culture.

Of course, there are also entertainment opportunities. Those include restaurants, butterfly gardens, and bars.

Wicker Park

  • Walk score: 95
  • Transit Score: 75
  • Bike Score: 95

Wicker Park is known for its view of the area where Milwaukee Avenue and North Avenue meet. It's reminiscent of the Flatiron Building in New York City. However, instead of the NYC skyline, Chicagoans can admire the Chicago skyline and the city's hustle and bustle.

While the neighborhood was previously in a state of upheaval after the Kennedy Expressway was completed in 1960, it has since stabilized through affordable housing and restoration efforts.

Today, it's known as a hipster haven. However, it’s really home to a diverse group of residents.

Wicker Park is bordered by the Bloomingdale Trail. However, people know it for its reputation as an arts and retail hub. You'll find a wide range of shops, from vintage record stores to thrift stores.

Even if shopping isn't your cup of tea, you still have a lot of options. To start, you can grab a cup of coffee from one of the eclectic coffee shops. From there, you can enjoy live music or head to one of the neighborhood's late-night bars or clubs.

The best part? You can easily reach all of these activities via public transportation, which can take you all the way to Chicago’s North Side.

River North

River North is a newly revitalized area that's perfect for those who love urban living. It's located within the Near North Side District, also home to the Cold Coast and Navy Pier communities.

If you're angling for a warehouse or manufacturing plant loft, then look no further than River North. These older buildings maintain their historic architecture. However, they add a hint of the present day from their recent renovations.

For those looking for a top-notch dining experience, River North is the perfect destination. You’ll find many good eats in this neighborhood, from authentic ethnic food to American steakhouses. Whatever your tastes, there's something for you!

However, it's the art scene that makes River North famous. The neighborhood is home to the densest collection of art galleries in the country. In fact, the full name of the neighborhood is River North Gallery District.

Artists flock to this neighborhood in the Windy City and add their unique flair. So, it's constantly evolving! At night, River North transforms into a thriving nightlife scene with entertainment that goes into the early hours of the morning.

Lakeview

  • Walk score: 91
  • Transit Score: 79
  • Bike Score: 88

Lakeview is the largest community in the Second City, with a population almost exceeding 100,000. This neighborhood's residents enjoy proximity to Wrigley Field and can catch the Chicago Cubs at their home games.

It’s also another art scene in the city. Lakeview is home to many theaters and live performance venues.

The L train is accessible through this neighborhood. Residents can travel throughout the city via this line.

True to its name, Lakeview boasts a great view of the Lake Michigan shoreline in the east. You'll find tons of shops and restaurants to keep you busy during the day.

Additionally, this is another Chicago neighborhood with a great night scene. Bars, clubs, and performances make for endless entertainment.

Lakeview is also notably LGBTQ-friendly, specifically the sub-neighborhood of Northalsted (formerly known as Boystown). It's known for hosting the annual Chicago Pride Parade. It's a great neighborhood for those who are determined to never have a dull moment!

Pilsen

  • Walk score: 88
  • Transit Score: 66
  • Bike Score: 85

Pilsen may have evolved as a neighborhood. However, it holds its character as a historically working-class neighborhood.

Nowadays, Pilsen is another community that adds to the rich art scene that dominates the city. You’ll see breathtaking murals all around the neighborhood. They add a pop of color as far as the eye can see.

Every second Friday in Pilsen is a dedicated Gallery Night. Neighborhood galleries collectively admit visitors for free! It's a great way to enjoy art frugally and meet new artists and people.

Beyond the exciting art of Pilsen, the neighborhood offers the perfect backdrop for lively nightlife and entertainment. Thalia Hall features artists spanning a range of mediums, from musicians to comedians.

As a bonus, those interested in learning about Mexican culture and art can stop by the free National Museum of Mexican Art.

If you happen to be a foodie, you'll have a ton of opportunity to enjoy foods from different cultures represented in this diverse community. From Mexican to Vietnamese foods, you can get a taste of ethnic cuisines.

Fulton River

  • Walk score: 94
  • Transit Score: 96
  • Bike Score: 86

Situated directly at the border of Downtown Chicago, the Fulton River District neighborhood is one of the city's historic communities. Today, it's a residential and business neighborhood with newly converted loft apartments that overlook the city. Mid- and high-rises have also sprung up in recent years.

It's an economic hub that now houses corporate headquarters of giants. Those include McDonald’s, Herman Miller, and Google.

Fulton River is home to the Fulton Market District, a designated Landmark District. It was once a massive meat-packing and manufacturing area. However, it has since become home to various businesses.

This revitalization has inspired an influx of residents. Fulton River is in a prime location. That’s because there’s a major commuter rail that runs through the neighborhood.

A unique quirk of the neighborhood is the smell of chocolate from the Blommer Chocolate Company. It manufactures chocolate and related products in the area.

Greektown

Greektown is difficult to get into! Its streets are dominated by restaurants and businesses that make it a high-traffic neighborhood.

It's located in the Near West Side community area of Chicago. It’s known as a popular spot for local nightlife and entertainment.

After the decimation of The Great Chicago Fire, Greek immigrants came to the neighborhood and helped in the area’s revitalization and restoration. The neighborhood retained its name from the very first settlers of the area.

Now, the neighborhood pays homage to its roots with a number of Greek restaurants and other ethnic dining options.

You'll also find the National Hellenic Museum located prominently on the corner of Halsted Street. It's the perfect destination for a history lover. It showcases the history, art, and culture of Greek people and Greek Americans.

It also highlights the Greek immigrant experience in America. Despite its size, Greektown is a great place to live, if you can find an available apartment in the area!

Uptown

  • Walk score: 91
  • Transit Score: 79
  • Bike Score: 91

Chicago's Uptown neighborhood not only has a singularly cool name, but it's also known as one of the coolest places in the city. The early 1900s brought jazz into the city, and it was centrally located in the Uptown neighborhood. In the 1920s, the jazz scene was spurred by the Prohibition Era.

Bootleggers and jazz musicians flocked to the area. Food, drink, and music attracted large audiences. Today, the neighborhood faces rising housing costs. There’s an array of condos and high-rise apartments available.

Final Thoughts

Chicago is one of the largest cities in the country. However, its size is only one of the benefits of living in the city. The various neighborhoods of the city have their own personalities and history that make them unique. You can explore cities near Chicago to also learn about their quirks.

All it takes is a little research, and you’ll be sure to find a neighborhood that fits your interests and needs. However, Chicago has 77 distinct communities, each with their own smaller neighborhoods within it. You’d have to spend hours finding the right one.

Let Apartment List take on the challenge.

All you have to do is submit your preferences. Are you a young professional looking for a short commute? Looking for a neighborhood that’s going to help you get the most bang for your buck? Our platform curates customized lists of apartments for rent that match preferences, whether you want to live in West Loop or Uptown.

Start our quiz to begin your apartment search today!

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AUTHOR
Davina Ward is a contributing author at Apartment List and freelance writer specializing in real estate and digital marketing. She received her B. Read More
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