Chicago is a big city made up of many smaller neighborhoods. One of the best ways to get to know each of these areas is through the free guided tours offered by Chicago Greeters. These local guides can give you the history, cultural traditions and insider tips on where to eat and shop. No matter if it’s Hyde Park, Chinatown, or Pilsen—there are plenty of areas to explore within Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods.
Home to former President Barack Obama and the site of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, Hyde park is rich in history. This neighborhood is bordered by the University of Chicago to the west and the Museum of Science and Industry to the east. Boasting more than 2,000 exhibits, the Museum of Science and Industry is one of the largest science museums in the Western Hemisphere. For travelers interested in architecture, head to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an iconic masterpieces in American architectural design.
Another highlight in Hyde Park, is the DuSable Museum—the country’s first institution dedicated to African American history and culture. It resides within Washington Park, home to a bird and butterfly sanctuary and the much-photographed Fountain of Time. And the Hyde Park Art Center has been a powerhouse on the art scene for more than 70 years, claiming the title of oldest alternative exhibition space in Chicago. Insider tip: Check out the new Sophy Hotel and explore the virtue restaurant from chef Erick Williams.
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Chicago’s Chinatown is a historic neighborhood filled with traditional specialty shops, storefronts packed with colorful wares and souvenirs, and family-owned restaurants. In fact, cuisine is one of the biggest draws to this neighborhood—from steaming bowls of noodles, to Cantonese specialties to classic dim sum there’s plenty of dishes to explore. For sights, be sure to stop into The ART Gallery to view works by Asian artists. The outdoor Chinatown Square mall has cafes and boutiques and you can even spot your sign among the 12 Chinese zodiac statues located in the middle of the mall. Don’t skip a stop at Ping Tom Memorial Park which has great views of the city and the Chicago River.
Rich in Latino culture, Pilsen is a neighborhood that overflows with music, art, culinary tradition, and nightlife. It’s home to award-winning restaurants, iconic music venues, and sensational murals. The buildings are covered in massive paintings and mosaics that pay homage to the neighborhood’s Hispanic roots. Take a stroll around the neighborhood to soak it all in, particularly the 16th Street Murals. The neighborhood’s thriving arts scene has become known as the Chicago Arts District. This seven-block stretch is filled with artists lofts, studios, retail spaces, galleries, and more. Another must for art lovers is Pilsen Arts and Community House, a local gallery focused on community and accessibility. Pilsen is also a haven for offbeat boutiques, hip eateries, and cool music venues standing alongside bodegas, panaderias, and family-owned restaurants serving authentic Mexican cuisine. Don’t miss the National Museum of Mexican Art while you’re there. This free museum immerses visitors in Mexican culture through a collection of textiles, folk art, prints, photos, and more. Pilsen is also home to a diverse dining scene, known for everything from authentic taquerias to acclaimed fine dining. Dig into modern versions of Vietnamese family recipes at HaiSous, feast on classic Mexican staples at 5 Rabanitos, and try elevated takes on globally inspired flavors at S.K.Y.
This colorful enclave is overflowing with vibrant culture and cuisine—from traditional bakeries, family-owned restaurants to unique local shops. In fact, there are almost 500 business in this two-mile stretch. Shop for artisan crafts at Artesanías Elena, or stock up at Dulcelandia del Sol, a warehouse filled with rainbow-hued sweets. Enjoy some of the best chilaquiles (a traditional Mexican breakfast dish) in town at La Catedral Café & Restaurant, or walk on the wild side and snack on fried rattlesnake at La Casa de Samuel. Admire murals and mosaics at the tiny but evocative Manuel Perez Memorial Plaza, which hosts local events and a marketplace.
Pullman was built as the county’s first planned industrial town. Designed by luxury railcar tycoon George Pullman for his employees, the community included more than 1,500 company-owned houses, a church, a school, and a building that housed offices, stores, a library and a bank. The historic Pullman neighborhood is an intricately preserved time capsule, transporting visitors to 1880s in Chicago. Be sure to visit the A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum, which honors the significant contributions that Black railroad workers made in the U.S. labor movement; stop at the Visitors Center, housed inside the restored clock tower building. For Chicago-style ribs, eat at the Lexington Betty Smokehouse.
Bronzeville is an art-filled community, where you’ll find a diverse array of galleries and historic landmarks. Highlights include the monthly Bronzeville Art District Tour, which covers the area’s vibrant gallery scene and showcases Black artists at spots like Gallery Guichard, Faie African Art Gallery and the the Bronzeville Artist Lofts. There are many restaurants in the area including Pearl’s Place; Norman’s Bistro; Truth Italian and Bronzeville Winery (which has a menu of comfort food like shrimp and grits.
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