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Neighborhood Guide: Bucktown, Chicago

By: Justin Chaplin
September 30, 2019

As one of the best neighborhoods in the Windy City, people recognize Bucktown, Chicago for its artistic vibe and late-night energy. The neighborhood is consistently drawing locals to its trendy boundaries. Locals gather around Bucktown’s bustling Six Corners where North, Damen Avenue, and Milwaukee intersect. Record stores, pubs, vintage boutiques, eateries, coffee shops, and galleries welcome locals.

Get to Know Bucktown, Chicago

Location

Bucktown is situated on the easternmost edge of the Logan Square community of Chicago. Its boundaries brush up against major transportation corridors and other trendy neighborhoods. 

The North Branch of the Chicago River lies to Bucktown’s east. Western Avenue is to its west and Bloomingdale Avenue to its south. Diversey Parkway is to its north. 

Residents also enjoy access to I-94 from the center of the neighborhood to commute into Chicago. 

Bucktown, Chicago also sits adjacent to trendy neighborhoods like Lincoln Park and Wicker Park. Its proximity to popular and pricey neighborhoods makes it a logical alternative for price-conscious millennials looking to relocate and find more affordable rentals.

Public Transportation in Bucktown

Getting around Bucktown and surrounding Chicago neighborhoods, Downtown, and beyond is easy. Chicago has a wealth of public transportation options. Locals have their pick of bus lines. The 76 Diversey, 73 Armitage, and 74 Fullerton, among others, can connect to the CTA Red Line. 

You can also hop on the bus line at Western to connect to the O'Hare airport or surrounding suburbs. Additionally, you can utilize that line to access downtown Chicago.

Another option for accessing downtown Chicago is the Metra stop at Clybourn Avenue. Some Bucktown locals even skip car ownership altogether. Some opt to walk, bike, or leverage Chicago's wealth of public transportation to get around car-free.

Why is it Called Bucktown?

Bucktown's history dates back nearly 200 years before Chicago became an official city. It's thought that the neighborhood's earliest Polish settlers gave Bucktown its name. “Buck” comes from the male goats the settlers were raising.  

Until the late 1900s, the neighborhood was home to an influx of Polish immigrants. That gave the neighborhood the nickname "Little Poland." Today, the neighborhood retains a creative, eclectic spirit that draws visitors and locals to explore its boundaries. 

Is Bucktown, Chicago Safe?

Bucktown enjoys a reputation as a relatively safe neighborhood. However, its urban proximity means some crime is inevitable. That’s, of course, the case with any big city neighborhood. Residents are active in neighborhood watch programs and block club initiatives to deal with crime quickly.

Bucktown also has a strong CAP (Chicago Alternative Policing) presence to help reduce crime. As with any urban neighborhood, law enforcement encourages residents to stay proactive about their safety. It’s always wise to walk home in a group during evening hours or grab a rideshare.

Fun Things to Do in Bucktown

The Windy City offers plenty of fun, from sports to nightlife and everything in between. But you don’t need to leave the boundaries of Bucktown to fill up every day of the week. From bumper cars to shopping, here’s what to see and do around Bucktown.

Get Your Game On

Get your game on with your neighbors at Whirlyball. There, you’ll find a combination of lacrosse, hockey, basketball, and bumper cars. 

It may just sound like another brightly-lit Dave & Busters. However, Whirlyball is decidedly trendy, and a local favorite haunt. After getting your game on, stay for sliders, flatbreads, sammies and cold brews.

Listen to Some Music

For an evening of music, head to the industrial area between Lincoln Park and Bucktown, Chicago. There, you’ll find the aptly named Hideout

The Hideout opened its doors in 1934. It caters to misfits and anyone looking for a place to kick back and enjoy performance art, plays, poetry, and music. Its history is all about introducing cutting-edge and lesser-known acts while retaining a rebellious streak.

Take your love of music home with you at one of the world's most renowned record stores at Reckless Records. That’s located in the Wicker Park/Bucktown area on Milwaukee. 

It’s of the few places that will let you listen to music before you buy. That way, you can discover all your new favorites before committing. Reckless Records also pays cash for old records, CDs, and DVDs, so you can discover new favorite artists.

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Follow the scent of freshly-made treats to the nearly 100-year-old Margie's Candies. This shop serves up old school ice cream and soda along with homemade candy. 

They have welcomed locals since 1921 in the same location and business is still booming. The line you might see out the door is worth the wait. 

Go on a Bike Ride

Bucktown, Chicago is the perfect place to hop on the elevated trail at the nearby 606. It’s otherwise known as the Bloomington Trail. 

Take a spin and soak up city views, outdoor art installations, and greenspace. The 2.7 miles of multi-use recreational trails and park offers a reprieve from the bustle of Chicago. Just prepare to slow down and dodge strollers and walkers taking advantage of a sunny day.

And if you need a bike for the 606, head over to the full-service BFF Bikes. A knowledgeable, friendly staff offers expert insights on what to buy. They even organize bike rides and bike clinics. 

The shop gears its products towards women. However, guys can get some great insights and bike gear too.

Take a Dip

Holstein Park may look short on amenities. However, it boasts a fantastic public swimming pool to cool off in the summer heat. 

When the weather turns cold, check the schedule for the baseball fields and basketball courts. You can also take the kids to the playground for year-round fun. 

Bucktown families also look to Holstein Park for community programming and day camps for toddlers as well as older kids.

Great Spots for Shopping

The area of Six Corners in Bucktown, Chicago is the perfect place to stroll, shop, and pop into a coffee shop. It’s also a great place to grab a beer with your neighbors. 

Reconnect with your creative side at Bucktown Gallery. There, you can take in an art opening or purchase works of art from local artists. 

You can also find artisan ceramics, wood, textiles, and other handmade items at the unique boutique Virtu to outfit your apartment’s decor.

Best Restaurants and Bars in Bucktown, Chicago

Bucktown is a neighborhood worthy of its food scene reputation. It expertly mixes laid-back fare and upscale culinary cuisine for an unforgettable experience. 

Savor a laid-back meal over old-fashioned burgers or wings at Floyd's Pub. Pair it with draft beers and cold ciders. 

Locals looking for a cozy, intimate experience dine at the Bento Box for a succinct, ever-changing menu. Look for rice noodles, curries, and Jidori chicken. Don’t miss the barbecue-pork steamed buns that sell out on the spot.

For something more upscale on a date night, satisfy your cravings for classic French Bistro food at Le Bouchon. The experience is reminiscent of Paris with frog legs, steak frites, duck and bouillabaisse. 

Dinner at the Chicago staple The Bristol is a must. They offer handmade pasta and farm-fresh produce. They take a decidedly nose-to-tail approach to every dish they make.

Great Places to Grab a Drink

Wherever you dine, end your night sipping on craft cocktails from the rooftop at The Robey for sparkling city skyline views. There’s also Danny’s Tavern for a night of imbibing, dancing, and DJs spinning vinyl nightly. Although unassuming on the outside, Danny’s is a favorite gem among locals looking to have all-night fun. 

Beer lovers flock to the Map Room, a neighborhood institution for nearly 30 years. Knowledgeable bartenders serve up a selection of 26 brews and over 100 bottles with a rotating selection. 

If you want to expand your beer knowledge, the Map Room’s Beer School delivers deep insights on all things beer for 20 years running. By day, the Map Room offers a morning menu of coffee drinks to perk you up after a late night. 

There’s also a hot spot for wine lovers in Bucktown at Red & White. They are one of the first natural wine retailers in the country. 

Red & White represents winemakers who decline the use of herbicides, pesticides, or chemicals on their vineyards. Instead, they harvest every grape by hand and use native yeasts. The end result resembles grape farming at is best that locals delight in savoring. 

There’s plenty to see, do, and eat within Bucktown’s bustling boundaries. Ready to make Bucktown, Chicago your new home? Find your new apartment in the trendy Bucktown neighborhood here.

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