As one of Chicago’s more affluent and architecturally rich neighborhoods, Lincoln Park is a treasured part of the city that enjoys both urban conveniences and scenic lakefront recreation. It is situated on Chicago’s Near North Side about two miles from downtown. Lincoln Park is the site of several city attractions, including the zoo, conservatory, historic theaters, and Chicago’s most popular beach – North Avenue Beach. The namesake park, which occupies the eastern edge of the neighborhood, stretches 1,200+ acres and provides city dwellers with a place to enjoy picnics, athletics, water sports and more. The 20-mile lakefront trial that connects almost the entire Chicago shoreline passes through Lincoln Park along the beach and provides a favorite bike and pedestrian path to the city’s cyclists, runners, walkers and sightseers.
During the summer months, Lincoln Park’s expansive beach area is packed with sunbathers, swimmers, vacationers, joggers and other outdoor enthusiasts looking to soak up some rays. There are beachside concessions and restrooms, as well as an open-air bar and grill at Castaways, a public restaurant that looks like a stranded boat. Bike racks, outdoor showers, limited paid parking, and umbrella and chair rentals are available here and lifeguards are on-duty regularly between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Weekends are the busiest time at North Avenue Beach and it’s suggested that visitors come early to get a good spot near the lake.
The Lincoln Park Zoo is a big plus for families because admission is always free. Bring the kids to see lions and tigers and bears up close and get face-to-face with gorillas and chimpanzees in the new Primate House. The pond next to the zoo has Swan Paddleboat rentals, which are a huge hit with everyone, from couples to siblings. The rest of the park, which surrounds the zoo grounds, is open to relaxing pick-up games, BBQs and strolling. Landmark monuments and statues are scattered about the walkways and tall leaf-covered trees provided welcome shade in the hot Chicago summer.
While Lincoln Park is a great neighborhood to spend time outside, its diverse dining and nightlife give visitors plenty of reasons to stay on past nightfall. The main streets are lined with popular bars, restaurants and cafés. And tucked back in the residential blocks are corner neighborhood taps that have been around for decades. Many of the establishments have patio or sidewalk seating, which is a coveted commodity in Lincoln Park in the summer. Tiny party lights cast a magical glow over the tables and the lively murmur of happy diners carries from one local haunt to the next.
Taxis are a common transportation option in Lincoln Park, but to save a few bucks many people use the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority). The neighborhood is serviced by three trains and a number of bus routes. The Brown Line “L” is an elevated train that shares tracks with the Purple Line (which operates only during rush hours). Both lines do a loop around the Loop (downtown) and then head back north again. The Red Line “L” train runs underground through Lincoln Park with stops at Fullerton Avenue and North/Clybourn.