Whether you’re looking to be in the heart of all the downtown action or want to explore a more artsy neighborhood, Chicago has many options and the best part is, you can pretty much navigate all of them for $2.25 with our CTA.
We begin our tour with the most famous of neighborhoods, The Loop. The area consists of 1.58 square miles of shopping, dining, hotels, notable skyscrapers, museums and more. The name “Loop” came from our elevated CTA Trains that loop or circle the city, allowing riders to access all parts of this neighborhood within a 5-minute train ride. One of the more famous shopping districts is on State Street, home to the historic Chicago Theatre and their famous marque. By utilizing the State and Lake stop on any one of the city’s loop trains, you’ll find yourself in the heart of the shopping district — that is, for the more financially conservative person who isn’t shopping up a storm in the higher-end retail hub of Michigan Avenue.
This area boasts great, quick dining options as well as retailers such as Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx and the famous Garrett’s Popcorn (don’t forget your handi-wipe, this popcorn is cheesey!). You will also have quick access to Millennium, Grant and Maggie Daley Parks.
Take the Blue Line CTA North (towards O’Hare) and get off at the Damen stop. This area, known as Wicker Park, is best noted for it’s funky second-hand retail shops, array of restaurant options and overall local artist vibes. In other words, it’s pretty much a hipster’s paradise! Join the pool-playing, craft beer-drinking, basement bar-going locals and enjoy an atmosphere where you can just be you. You may even be lucky enough to catch a live painting session with local artists, or time your visit to the three-day Wicker Park Fest, where local bands and great food meet, in the summer.
Chicago may be known for its deep-dish pizza but it also has some of the best thin crust around. One of my favorites is Piece Pizza on Damen in Wicker Park. Not only does this place sling a great pie, but they also brew their own beer. Get there early, and prepare for a wait, but it’ll be worth it when you belly up to their huge bar and sample a great craft brew while enjoying the smells of hot, freshly made za’.
You can either take a 20-minute walk up Milwaukee Avenue or hop back on the Blue Line train to the California stop, where Logan Square awaits you. This area is similar in many ways to Wicker Park, but offers more elbow room to roam.
As you’ll notice, Logan Square is notable for its historic wide streets, particularly the original Boulevard, where massive brick homes featuring beautiful green landscaping line the streets. It’s a great overall representation of what all of Chicago looked like at the turn of the century. You can even take a “House and Garden Walking Tour” in the summer months to delve deeper into the area’s history.
Next, head on up Milwaukee Ave, where some great entertainment and food welcome the hungry. Fan of arcade games and beer will love Emporium Bar and Arcade, where you can unleash your inner child on their large collection of arcade games. Then, head on over to one of the several second-hand stores where you can find the perfect vintage tee.
Still looking for more of what Chicago has to offer? Click here for more information on the city’s various neighborhoods.