Gold Coast Chicago: Hot Chicago Neighborhoods You Should Visit

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gold coast chicago

In 1882, Potter Palmer, owner of the Palmer House Hotel and Marshall Fields, decided to move from the South Loop to a swampy area just north of the Streeterville neighborhood.

He had a house (Palmer Mansion) built in what is now known as the Gold Coast.  And thereby began the migration of Chicago’s rich and influential from the South Loop to the Gold Coast neighborhood.

No history of skid rows, inebriated bums urinating on sidewalks or peep show businesses ever graced the boundaries of the Gold Coast…no siree bob.

No down-on-your-luck community rags-to-riches tale by way of urban renewal and gentrification ever touched this area of downtown Chicago.

The Gold Coast has always been gen-tri-fied (said in my fake southern accent).

Honey…the Gold Coast has always been HOT.

Where is the Gold Coast Chicago neighborhood?

The Gold Coast is located just north of the Streeterville neighborhood.  The boundaries are North Avenue to the north, Oak Street, or Chicago Avenue (depending on whom you ask) to the south; Lake Michigan to the east and Clark Street to the West.

But like most neighborhood boundaries in Chicago, it is hotly debated and dependent upon whom you speak to.

Exploring the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Chicago (hence, the name) and is the 7th most affluent urban neighborhood in America.  You will notice when exploring this area of downtown Chicago that a lot of the street names are upper-crust stately-sounding such as Astor, Oak, and Goethe.

The Gold Coast was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1978.  And you will understand why this neighborhood was added when you stroll down its quiet residential streets.

Expect to see lovely old mansions, gorgeous British-style rowhouses mixed in with high-rise apartment/condo buildings.

Hot spot: Rush Street

At night,  the area surrounding Mariano Park (bordered by Rush, Bellevue, and State Street) is like a very miniature Central Park with its own Tavern (on Rush).

Gold Coast is a cool area to stroll at night, especially during warm weather.  And you will have plenty of company – no matter what time of night.

The nightlife is very contained and compact around Mariano Park; dotted here and there with several bars, eateries, and restaurants. You can choose to have cocktails at Blue Agave Tequila Bar, cross the street for steaks at Gibson’s then wrap it up across the road with a nightcap at Dublin’s Bar and Grill.

Then, back to your hotel room at the 4-star Thompson Chicago  (21 East Bellevue Place) …all without breaking a sweat.

 

6 Cool Things to do in Gold Coast Chicago

1. Take a tour of the Gold Coast with Free Tours by Foot– this walking tour explores the residential architecture of the Gold Coast. There is no upfront cost for the tour.  You pay your tour guide what you like once the tour is over.  For more information and to reserve you a spot, click here.

2.  Go to the beach – definitely make Oak Street Beach one of your stops if you’re in Chicago during the warm weather.  Located at 1000 North Lakeshore Drive, this popular beach has spectacular views of the Chicago skyline, volleyball courts, and a cute cafe.  For more information on Oak Street Beach, click here.

3.  Go shopping on Oak Street – if you’re into high-end shopping or window-shopping is your thing, then check out the boutiques along Oak Street shopping district.  Bring your AMEX Black card and shop til you drop at Harry Winston, Jimmy Choo and many more!  Click here for a list of shops.

4.  Go to the Museum – The International Museum of Surgical Science is located in the Gold Coast neighborhood at 1524 North Lakeshore Drive.  The museum is housed in a beautiful mansion.  So if surgical science isn’t your thing, then go for the fantastic architecture.  For more information on the museum, click here.

 

5. Go to the Library – Have you ever heard of the Newberry Library?  Well, it’s located in Gold Coast Chicago!  This famous independent research library, located at 60 West Walton Street, has been around since 1887.  Here’s your chance to touch some of the most important manuscripts and maps of the world – don’t miss out.  For more information, click here.

6. Wine tasting at House of Glunz – Okay, so the House of Glunz isn’t quite in the Gold Coast neighborhood, but if you’re into wines (like I am), you will want to make a stop here.  I went to my very first winetasting here about ten years ago, and it blew my mind.

It opened up a whole new wine journey for me, a former Boones Farm Strawberry wine drinker.

Winetastings are hosted every Friday (5:30 pm – 7:30 pm) and Saturday (2:00 PM – 6:00 PM). The House of Glunz‘s shop is located at 1206 North Wells Street.

Click here for more information.

Where to stay in the Gold Coast

Whether it be either hotel or Airbnb, there are fantastic choices for accommodations in the Gold Coast neighborhood. Hotels are going to be pricey in this area.  If you’re looking to score amazing digs at amazing prices, then I recommend checking out Airbnb.

Click here to check out Airbnb Gold Coast Chicago. 

There are amazing Gold Coast Chicago hotels to choose from:

For information on hotel deals, click here to be taken to Booking.com.

Is it safe for tourist

Absolutely!

The Gold Coast neighborhood is very safe.  No matter what time of day or night.  If I had to choose the safest Chicago neighborhood to take a nightly stroll as a woman traveling solo – the Gold Coast would be it.

However.

You still need to do your part by not making yourself a target for crime. Stick to well-lit streets when going out at night and no taking short cuts through alleys.

The Gold Coast is patroled by the Chicago Police Department (and probably a few private security firms) and is excellent at keeping the downtown area safe.

Gold Coast Chicago Restaurants you should eat at

The list of great restaurants in this area is endless.  Check out Yelp for recommendations and reviews.  But here are a few of my favorites:

  • Gibsons Steakhouse (1028 North Rush Street)
  • Hugo Frog bar and Fish house (1024 North Rush Street)
  • Original Pancake House (22 East Bellevue – breakfast)
  • Tempo Cafe (6 East Chestnut – breakfast)
  • Mr. J’s (822 North State Street – counter-style lunch)

Conclusion

The Gold Coast neighborhood is the wealthiest neighborhood in Chicago and the 7th most affluent urban neighborhood in the United States.  But there’s so much more to this quiet (and rich) neighborhood – architecture, amazing views of the lake, upscale restaurants, and shopping – to name a few.

Be prepared to be wowed by this beautiful and hot neighborhood – the Gold Coast!

 

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