Where should we stay in Chicago?
January 17, 2024 8:40 AM   Subscribe

Hello, we are looking to spend a week or two in Chicago and are trying to figure out the best place to get an AirBnb. We have been to Chicago a lot, but generally have stayed downtown. Which is what we will do if it makes sense, but we have a car this time. We'd like to be in a walkable part of the city and leave the car parked when we can.

We are mainly planning on exploring, eating at good restaurants, checking up on all the museums and reading in coffeeshops. If you know Portland, we live near NE Alberta Street and N. Mississippi Ave if that helps at all.

What neighborhoods should we stay in? One of my cousins suggested Oak Park, where he lives but that was four years ago. Are there streets we should look for? What other neighborhood would you recommend?
posted by ugf to Travel & Transportation around Chicago, IL (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: i really like lincoln park as a visitor.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 9:18 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If museums are a big focus, maybe check and see if you can get a good deal on an AirBNB apartment stay in the West Loop or in nearby West Town. That area also has good transit, is closer to the museums, and is where many of the city's trendiest and most enjoyable restuarants are located. You'd have semi-decent odds of being able to park there, too.

There are plenty of upscale/comfortable apartments/condos in that area and I would feel as comfortable there as most neighborhoods in Chicago in terms of safety. Although the neighborhoods further west of there are not bad places, the math on safety changes as you move in that direction.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:13 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Agreed, Lincoln Park and Old Town are very walkable. If you find the Loop on a map of Chicago and look across the river to the north, you'll find a number of dense walkable neighborhoods near the lake that become more neighborhood-y as you go north. River North, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park.

There are plenty of other very walkable neighborhoods with a lot to offer in the other cardinal directions (well, except for east mostly), and you'll find great restaurants and art studios and plenty of other good stuff in those neighborhoods too, but walkability and access to the rest of the city might be harder. Oak Park for example has a number of Frank Lloyd Wright homes and a nice walking tour, but it's more of a suburban residential community that's about 10 miles west of downtown Chicago. The near-northern neighborhoods can be touristy and corporate, but at least they're dense with a lot to see and do, and you can walk from one to another or all the way downtown in a reasonable time. From Lincoln Park Zoo to the Art Institute (middle of the Loop and very highly recommended btw) is about three miles.

If it were me I'd look at something around Lincoln Park or Old Town, that puts you in a good density of walkable stuff to both the north and south. North of you there are Lakeview and Wrigley which both have a lot to see and do. Plus you have good access to transit that can take you elsewhere.

On preview: agreed with DirtyOldTown that West Loop has a lot to offer, and if you're a foodie, yeah there's a ton of great restaurants over there, plus you've got pretty good access to downtown. Note that access to the rest of the city, through public transit at least, is going to tend to take you downtown and then either north or south, the Loop is the hub.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 10:21 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Old Town and Lincoln Park are great, but you'll have a devil of a time parking a car. Parking might be somewhat easier around, say, Logan Square, Wrigleyville, or Andersonville (which are also nice). Oak Park is not Chicago, it's a suburb.

You might want to reconsider whether you'll have a car, or balance your desire to have a car against your desire to be in an interesting neighborhood.
posted by adamrice at 12:30 PM on January 17

Best answer: Any given part of the city is walkable, but the whole thing is kinda not. E.g. if you stayed in Lakeview it's six miles to the Loop. Staying in the near north or Lincoln Park is probably best for walking to attractions or restaurants, but if you want to see e.g. Chinatown or the Museum of Science and Industry, that's a car or el trip.

I live in Oak Park; you could certainly stay here, see the Wright stuff, and take the el downtown. It's up to an hour's ride, but a car is basically a liability downtown. On the other hand downtown Evanston is also connected to the el, is on the lake, and has a nice college atmosphere.

If you're staying near downtown, double-check parking arrangements. You're just not going to find parking spaces on the street when and where you need them, and parking lots are expensive.
posted by zompist at 3:05 PM on January 17

Best answer: Many neighborhoods in Chicago require a parking permit to park on the street, so if your rental doesn't include off-street parking you may find it hard to park nearby.
posted by borkencode at 4:00 PM on January 17

Best answer: SpotHero (an app you get discounted parking spots through) is useful/essential for parking downtown and even in neighborhoods if street parking is largely permitted/complicated.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 8:16 PM on January 17

Best answer: If you're renting on AirBNB, there's an option you can get to filter and get only properties with included parking spaces. That part doesn't have to be that complicated.

Driving from a designated space in the Loop/downtown area to the surrounding area and parking will be far cheaper than the reverse.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:44 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you so much everyone, all of this really helps! We have an early morning appointment on E. Ontario & Michigan so staying in Chicago proper is the goal. And eating at all of the restaurants, checking out the new places, and going to all of the museums I miss, also going to happen. Super excited - we will make a separate trip to visit family in Oak Park / other Chicago-areas another time.
posted by ugf at 12:20 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]

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