A Neighborhood Guide to Chicago's Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park is among Chicago’s most bucolic neighborhoods, thanks to its seemingly endless natural resources. The Chicago River carves out its western border, and the sands of North Avenue Beach mark the southeast corner. To the east, of course, is Lincoln Park’s crown jewel: the 1,200-acre namesake park that’s the largest in the city. It’s home to attractions such as the Lincoln Park Zoo and the Chicago History Museum, and gives way to the placid waters of Lake Michigan.
To celebrate the spirit of this iconic Chicago neighborhood, Groupon has partnered with the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce to curate a special deal collection with some of its most remarkable businesses. From candlelit dinners at Geja’s to chasing butterflies at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, these are some of the city’s most essential destinations. And to help you prepare for exploring Lincoln Park's lakefront and beyond, the The Guide's editors have put together a handy neighborhood guide with photos, facts, and tips to make the most of your trip.
Did You Know?
Lincoln Park Zoo was founded in 1868, making it the nation’s oldest public zoo still in operation. Its first exhibit was a pair of rebel swans captured by General Grant at Appomattox.
A southward look through the park’s South Pond Pavilion perfectly frames the Hancock Building, a defining element of the downtown skyline. Perhaps the most iconic buildings on Lincoln Park’s own horizon, though, are its church towers. The neighborhood is home to several of the city’s most historic churches, including St. Clement and St. Josaphat’s, as well as DePaul University, the largest Catholic university in the country.
DePaul has always prioritized education for underserved communities, from early 20th-century women to first-generation Americans. This latter group in particular speaks to the cultural history of the neighborhood. In the late 1800s, the area was a haven for Polish and Kashubian immigrants; in the mid-20th century, it became Chicago’s first Puerto Rican community.
Today, the neighborhood is known for the beautiful brownstones that line lush, picturesque streets. (In fact, Forbes once named a Lincoln Park block the most expensive in the city.) On some streets, the loudest sound you’ll hear is the soft crunch of pavement under stroller wheels. On others, the roar of victory spills out of sports bars brimming with college students.
Despite its idyllic setting and all-American feel, Lincoln Park has its share of weird, whimsical treasures. Playful statues mark the grounds of neighborhood parks—Oz Park is, of course, home to bronze-cast likenesses of characters of The Wizard of Oz. Grittier sights include Neo, the city’s oldest nightclub, and the site of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, where six mobsters were killed on February 14, 1929.
Did You Know?
Oz Park's statues depict each major character from the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz, including Karl, the Alderman of Munchkinland.
As one of the city’s largest, most popular neighborhoods, Lincoln Park boasts some of the city’s best restaurants. Chez Moi is certainly a standout, thanks to elegant french food crafted by native Alsatian Dominique Tougne. Comfort food has its place as well—countless couples have gotten engaged over fondue pots at Geja’s, and many couples have tried and failed to eat an entire deep-dish pie at Bacino’s.
The arts are a large part of Lincoln Park culture as well. Steppenwolf Theatre Company is a Tony Award–winning group that ranks among the country's finest, housed in one of the few marquis playhouses outside of downtown's Theater District. Music venues also abound. At B.L.U.E.S. and Kingston Mines, resident musicians enthrall spectators with nightly shows blending jazz, blues, rock, and pop. Artists such as The Walkmen, HAIM, and Charli XCX have all played Lincoln Hall, which Rolling Stone named one of the nation's best venues in 2013.
Did You Know?
Steppenwolf Theatre helped launch the careers of dozens of notable actors, including Gary Sinise, Laurie Metcalfe, and all of the world's John Malkoviches.
Photos by Grant Walsh, Groupon.