Located just outside the Loop, Chicago’s Gold Coast is the city’s “it” neighborhood. From the very beginning, Gold Coast was only inhabited by the most powerful and affluent individuals. Big names like Potter Palmer, Archbishop Patrick Feehan and Hugh Hefner (yes, that Hugh Hefner) have all resided in this lavish neighborhood at one point or another.
Gold Coast residents need never dream of island paradises (at least not in the summer), given the neighborhood’s expansive beaches and jaw-dropping lakefront views. Oak Street Beach is a getaway in itself with bike trails, jogging paths and green plots for picnics. If you’re not up for packing your own lunch, the beachside Oak Street Beachstro serves up a classic American food menu at its palm tree-covered cabana-style café.
Off-beach dining options are endless in the Gold Coast, ranging from upscale steakhouses to understated Italian burger joints. The only downside to many of these well-known spots is the tourists that often flock to them on weekends. But seasoned locals know the best times to dine and have become experts at avoiding out-of-towner chaos.
Aside from great outdoor recreation and first-rate restaurants, Gold Coast offers, hands-down, the best shopping in the city. The world-famous Magnificent Mile begins in the Gold Coast and runs south down Michigan Avenue. This strip of big name department stores and upscale boutiques attract locals and tourists alike. The crush of weekend shoppers can make this area more than a little chaotic, especially during holidays, but there’s no better place in Chicago for retail, fashion and couture style. The Mag Mile is where Chicagoans get their fix of high-end boutiques and elite chains as well as mid-priced mall clothiers and name brand products. Some designer favorites among Gold Coast fashionistas include Prada, Barneys New York and Kate Spade.
You wouldn’t expect Chicago’s richest neighborhood to have anything less than the most expensive homes. Just take a look at Gold Coast’s nineteenth century mansions, luxury high-rise condos and renovated grey and brownstones. A simple stroll around the neighborhood and you’ll be itching to join the ranks of Chicago’s local elite. And for a couple million, you can live among the best. Most detached residential real estate in the Gold Coast starts above $1 million, but private single-family properties can easily reach the multimillions. However, if you’re living the single life, you just might find a steal. Gold Coast has a few studios and one-bedrooms that can cost anywhere from $170,000 to $600,000.