River North, Chicago IL
The River North district of Chicago is a hub for high-end art, dining and living based on the outskirts of Chicago’s famous downtown. There are more high-end art galleries in River North than anywhere in the United States outside of NYC. Because of this, many have referred to River North as the ‘Gallery District’ of the city.
Aside from the many choices to see and purchase art, River North has also seen a fairly dramatic change in appearance in the last twenty years. A recent explosion of development has seen the neighborhood host to many new high-rise properties as developers seize the opportunities to market to a high-income clientele. In response to the new influx of high priced housing come other high-end options like nightlife, entertainment, and fine dining.
Most agree that the River North area is the space north of the Chicago River and the Merchandise Mart. It is also bordered by Division Street on its northern end and Wabash as the westernmost border of the neighborhood. For those familiar with the geography of Chicago, this is prime real estate and likely some of the most desirable land to live and work in in the Windy City.
Some notable places to eat while in River North include such famous spots as Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak, and Stone Crab. Formerly a Miami based business, Joe’s has carved its place in the heart of Chicago diners. It’s mostly a steakhouse with an impressive array of seafood options to please most meat-loving pallets.
Other restaurants of note include Sunda which is a trendy spot for locals in the area as well as others who are looking see and be seen while eating some genuinely delicious food. The restaurant also has plenty of options for diners of all dietary disciplines. The Asian fusion menu stands out while the chic crowd keeps people coming back for more.
For a more classic and guilty lunch or dinner, you cannot go wrong with Chicago’s iconic Portillo’s. In all honesty, they do what is primarily labeled as ‘junk food’ in the tastiest way possible. The endlessly long lines to get one of their burgers, Italian beefs, hot dogs and every other guilty pleasure imaginable ensure that you’ll leave Portillo’s with a full and happy belly when you leave. Seriously, if you haven’t been, you need to go. It’s required Chicago eating.
With food options established, we must now discuss the other amazing happenings in the River North area.
You cannot miss out of tourist essentials like Navy Pier, which is a hotspot for visitors to the city and houses a wide variety of activities and shopping along with an IMAX theatre to get out of the heat in summer months. Furthermore, many boat tours dock from Navy Pier that are a treat and a must for those who want an exquisite view of one of the world’s most beautiful skylines.
We mentioned it before but one of the most iconic buildings in all of Chicago is so large, it has its own zip code! We are, of course, referring to the Merchandise Mart. Built in the 1920s and still standing out amidst a sea of modern skyscrapers, the Merchandise Mart houses a vast amount of retail shops and offices from some of the country’s biggest brands. The Mart, as it’s also known, is also a LEED-EB certified building which makes it all the sweeter knowing that the carbon footprint of such a massive place is kept in check.
For music lovers, look no further than the legendary House of Blues. Hosting big named acts in an intimate environment has made the HOB one of the favorite places in the city to catch live music acts who come into town. Of note is the fantastic sound system and beautiful decor which sets the stage for the incredible talent that comes in and out of the city regularly. If you love live music, the House of Blues is a destination spot to hear it live.
We can go on and on, but River North is host to some of the best things to do in all of Chicago. If money isn’t a problem, you can have some incredible experiences in Chicago, a city that is chock full of them.
Let’s explore another great Chicago neighborhood, Ukranian Village!
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