Chicago, the most populated city in the state of Illinois and the Midwestern United States and the third most populated city in the US, is nestled along the Great Lakes shoreline. Well-recognized for its vibrant city life, music scene (especially house music scene), shopping avenue, futuristic architecture, miles of sandy beaches, highly-distinguished colleges and universities, and prominent cultural attractions, Chicago has a gorgeous skyline that floats impressively over the banks of Lake Michigan.
A victim of a huge fire in 1871 that almost destroyed the entire city, Chicago is also known as the “Second City” for it literally is the second and improved version of the original metropolitan. Chicago is also known for literature. In fact, there are numerous world-renowned creative representations about this unprecedented city, including Karen Abbott’s Sin in the Second City, Theodore Dreiser’s Sister Carrie, and Carl Sandburg’s Chicago Poems.
Here is a fun fact – Most of us may know Chicago as the “Windy City,” however, in reality, it doesn’t even count in the list of America’s top windy cities.
As a born and raised Chicago local I’m definitely gonna be able to help you navigate some of the hippest neighborhoods in the metropolitan to help you decide where to stay in Chicago during your next visit.
One of the three downtown communities of Chicago, the Loop is often the first stop for visitors traveling to the city. Neighbored by the Chicago River to its north and west and Lake Michigan to the east, the neighborhood is home to the tallest structures that comprise Chicago’s magnificent skyline. Undoubtedly, the most iconic part of the city, the Loop is home to a world-class assortment of public art, major theatres, and of course, the Art Institute of Chicago, one of the finest and the largest museums in the United States. Grant Park, along with its gorgeous centerpiece, Buckingham Fountain, is a popular green space that dates as far back as the entirety of the city’s history.
Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights: Museum of Contemporary Photography, Millennium Park, Vietnam Veterans Museum, Chicago Architecture Foundation, and Cloud Gate.
- Virgin Hotels Chicago – A few minutes’ walk from the famous Millennium Park, this opulent boutique hotel offers beautifully-decorated, lifestyle-focused rooms with ensuite bathroom, flat-screen TV, minibar, coffee machine, and separate dressing area. Guests can enjoy one of the five on-site restaurants, the rooftop bar, the nightclub, a library, and a full-service spa. I would suggest this for solo travelers and couples.
- Hyatt Regency Chicago – A short walk from the beach, Hyatt Regency Chicago features luxurious guestrooms with modern amenities such as air-conditioning, flat-screen TV with cable channels, free Wi-Fi, seating area, iPod dock, and an ensuite bathroom with free toiletries. There are multiple dining options and a 24-hour fitness area for the guests. In my opinion suitable for all kinds of travelers.
- Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront – A gentle stroll away from the beach and the buzzing shopping streets of the Magnificent Mile, Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront features well-appointed guestrooms with extra-large double beds, air-conditioning, iPod dock, mini refrigerator, coffee maker, and a private bathroom. The property also offers on-site dining, free Wi-Fi, in-room spa services, a 24-hour fitness center, and spectacular views of the Chicago River. Great for all kinds of travelers.
Also check out my guide on the 55 best things to do in Chicago.
One of the most prominent neighborhoods in Chicago, Hyde Park is located on the south side of the city, along the south lakefront. A significant historic center, Hyde Park has played host to the likes of President Obama, Clarence Darrow, and Muhammad Ali. The many Victorian mansions and Prairie school houses will definitely keep the architecture-lovers occupied. The biggest attraction in the neighborhood is central Hyde Park, home to the revered University of Chicago. Dotted with interesting bookstores, great museums, budget street food, and tree-lined streets, Hyde Park houses the Museum of Science and Industry, Oriental Institute Museum, and Robie House.
Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights: Drexel Fountain, The National House, Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, Jackson Park, Midway Park, and 57th St Beach.
- Hyatt Place Chicago-South/University Medical Center – 5 minutes’ walk from the University of Chicago, the luxurious property offers fully-furnished guestrooms with air-conditioning, a 42-inch flat-screen TV, refrigerator, ironing facilities, a dining area with a coffee machine, and ensuite bathroom with free toiletries. Additional facilities at the hotel include free shuttle service, a fitness center, an indoor pool, and a 24-hour café. Suitable for all kinds of travelers, including big groups of up to 6 members.
- La Quinta Inn & Suites Chicago Lake Shore – Located a gentle stroll away from the beach, the hotel features well-appointed rooms with latest amenities such as flat-screen TV with cable channels, free Wi-Fi, ironing facilities, refrigerator, and ensuite bathroom with free toiletries. On-site facilities also include an on-site bar and restaurant, a business center, and a fitness center. Great for all kinds of travelers, including big groups of up to 6 members.
- Chicago Lake Shore Hotel – A stone’s throw away from the beach, Chicago Lake Shore Hotel provides comfortable guestrooms fitted with air-conditioning, extra-large double beds, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TV with cable channels, and ensuite bathroom. The property also offers free shuttle service, free guest parking, a banquet hall, a 24-hour front desk, and an on-site restaurant. Suitable for all kinds of travelers.
Formerly known as Lake Park, this neighborhood is a quaint mix of college students, young families, freshly-graduated lawyers, and the likes. Once a small community of Germans and Polish, the district served as a refuge for those who lost their homes to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Most decided to stay, suddenly transforming the neighborhood into a vibrant and fashionable district. Lincoln Park is home to significant attractions I’d suggest you take a lookt at such as Lincoln Park Zoo, DePaul University, and St Michael’s Church, one of the fewest structures to have survived the fire. The Old Town area wasn’t as lucky as the rest of the neighborhood but was luckily not hit too hard either. The Old Town Triangle Historic District retains the remnants of some of Chicago’s pre-fire history. The Second City Theatre is where a group of expats from Hyde Park reinvented American Comedy.
Good for: All kinds of travelers, especially the young.
Other Highlights: Biograph Theatre, Chicago History Museum, Lincoln Park Conservatory, Astor Street Historic District, North Avenue Beach, and Steppenwolf Theatre.
- Hotel Lincoln, a Joie de Vivre Hotel – A 10 minutes’ walk from the Lincoln Zoo, this stylish hotel offers nicely decorated guestrooms with air-conditioning, flat-screen TV, free Wi-Fi, tea/coffee maker, laptop safe, and an ensuite bathroom with free toiletries. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant, the business center, and the bike rental facility. Suitable for all kinds of travelers.
- Villa D’ Citta – Set in the heart of Lincoln Park, Villa D’ Citta features trendy guestrooms with Italian-style décor, flat-screen TV, kitchenette, refrigerator, microwave, and ensuite bathroom with free toiletries. A complimentary breakfast is served daily. Guests can enjoy the sundeck with a hot tub for relaxation. Perfect for all kinds of travelers, including big groups of up to 6 members.
- Hotel Versey – A short drive from Lincoln Zoo and DePaul University, Hotel Versey offers well-appointed guestrooms equipped with the newest facilities such as laptop safe, tea/coffee maker, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TV with pay-per-view channels, and ensuite bathroom with free toiletries. The hotel also provides special rooms with disability access. Suitable for all kinds of travelers, including big groups of up to 5 members.
The shopping central of Chicago, Magnificent Mile is the city’s elite commercial district. Also known as the Mag Mile, this neighborhood is located next to the bustling Downtown district and serves as the main access between the Loop and Gold Coast. Innumerable mid and high-end stores line the streets of the Mag Mile while several restaurants, bars, and hotels make the neighborhood the eighth most expensive rental place in the United States of America. Some of the notable attractions I’d recommend visiting in the area are the Chicago Water Tower, the John Hancock Center, the Wrigley Building, and One Magnificent Mile building, considered one of the tallest in the world.
Good for: All kinds of travelers, especially shopaholics.
Other Highlights: East Lake Shore Drive District, Michigan Avenue Bridge, London Guarantee Building, 360 Chicago Observation Deck, and Fourth Presbyterian Church.
- LondonHouse Chicago, Curio Collection by Hilton – Nestled in a historic building standing alongside the Chicago River, this luxurious hotel features spacious guestrooms with state-of-the-art amenities, the only tri-level rooftop bar in Chicago, a 24-hour fitness center, a grand ballroom, and an on-site rooftop restaurant overlooking the gorgeous river. I’d definitely recommend this one if you like luxury.
- Hilton Chicago/Magnificent Mile Suites – A few steps away from the beach, the stylish property offers exceptional all-suites accommodation with world-class amenities, personalized services, on-site BBQ restaurant, a rooftop pool, a bar, and a fully-equipped fitness center. Suitable for all kinds of travelers, including big groups of up to 5 members.
- Kinzie Hotel – This classy boutique hotel features upscale rooms with latest facilities such as flat-screen TV with pay-per-view channels, seating area, ironing facilities, laptop safe, minibar, in-room massage service, and ensuite bathroom with free toiletries. The hotel also offers in-room dining, a bar and lounge with one complimentary drink every night, and a 24-hour fitness center. Great for all kinds of travelers.
Near South/South Loop
Home of many Chicago landmarks, Near South is among the oldest settlements in the city and was once considered the most prestigious. After a few decades of inactivity, the area has once again emerged as a tourist hotspot filled with several activities and attractions. The Museum Campus is home to three of the finest natural science museums in the country while McCormick Place serves as a gigantic convention center. Once a celebrated section of Near South, Prairie Avenue was the former residence of 75 of the richest men in the world. Today, nine of the eleven surviving residences here are protected as Chicago landmarks.
Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights: The Clarke House Museum, The Clarke House Museum, Second Presbyterian Church, Dearborn Station, and Marshall Field Jr. Mansion.
- Hyatt Regency McCormick Place – Connected directly to the McCormick Place Convention Center, this luxurious hotel offers stylish guestrooms with modern amenities such as air-conditioning, flat-screen TV, iPod dock, and ensuite bathroom. Extra facilities at the hotel include business facilities, free Wi-Fi, a 24-hour fitness center, an indoor pool, and an optional daily breakfast. Suitable for all kinds of travelers.
- Hilton Chicago – A 5 minutes’ walk from Millennium Park, Hilton Chicago offers stunning views of Lake Michigan along with neatly decorated guestrooms, avant-garde amenities, on-site dining, an indoor pool, room service, hot tub, a seasonal sundeck, a modern fitness center, and a pub with live entertainment. Perfect for all kinds of travelers.
- Marriott Marquis Chicago – A luxury hotel property, Marriott Marquis Chicago feature world-class amenities and technology, a 24-hour fitness center, over 93,000 square feet of meeting space, on-site dining options, plush guestrooms, 24-hour in-room dining service, and valet dry cleaning service. Great for all kinds of travelers.
Set in the North Side of Chicago, River North Gallery District, or as it is simply known, River North is known to house the largest concentration of art galleries in the country, outside of Manhattan. Rapid expansion starting in the 1990s have evolved this neighborhood as one of the top neighborhoods for nightlife in Chicago, especially the area around Hubbard Street. Along with innumerable art galleries, the neighborhood is also home to several fine-dining restaurants, lively bars, interesting entertainment venues, and famous nightclubs. My favorite Italian restaurant in the area is Quartino Ristorante, I’d advise to reserve a table in advance.
Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights: Navy Pier, Tribune Tower, Chicago Children’s Museum, Milton Lee Olive Park, East Bank Club, The Richard H. Driehaus Museum, and DuSable Bridge.
- Godfrey Hotel Chicago – Located in the heart of River North neighborhood, this hip boutique hotel offers comfy guestrooms with facilities such as extra-large double beds, a wet bar, a work desk, a 46-inch flat-screen TV with satellite channels, safety deposit box, iPod dock, and ensuite bathroom with free toiletries. On-site facilities include a 24-hour fitness center, on-site dining options, a rooftop bar and lounge, and much more. Great for all kinds of travelers.
- Hilton Garden Inn Chicago Downtown/Magnificent Mile – 2 blocks away from the thriving neighborhood of Magnificent Mile, this River North hotel offers well-appointed guestrooms with newest facilities, a 24-hour business center, an indoor heated pool and hot tub, a fitness center, a 24-hour snack shop, and an optional daily breakfast. Suitable for all kinds of travelers.
- Hyatt Place Chicago River North – A gentle stroll away from the buzzing Downtown and Magnificent Mile area, Hyatt Place Chicago River North offers opulent rooms with modern amenities such as extra-large double beds, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TV, seating area, and ensuite bathroom with free toiletries. Additional facilities at the hotel include a 24-hour dining facility, a 24-hour fitness center, and room service. Suitable for all kinds of travelers, including big groups of up to 5 members.
This historic district, located in Chicago’s Near North Side community area, became a popular neighborhood in the wake of the Great Chicago Fire. Potter Palmer, a millionaire from Prairie Avenue, moved here in 1882 and built a 42-room castle-like building known as the Palmer Mansion. Gradually, the likes of him followed and made Gold Coast one of the most high-end neighborhoods in Chicago. The upscale neighborhood boasts several skyscrapers, row-houses, majestic mansions, specialty boutiques, and Michelin-starred restaurants. Oak Street is the area’s designated shopping street while Rush Street is where you head for the best nightlife in the district.
Good for: All kinds of travelers, especially those seeking luxury.
Other Highlights I’d recommend: Astor Street District, James Charnley House, International Museum of Surgical Science, Newberry Library, Charnley-Persky House, and St. James Chapel.
- Ambassador Chicago – A few minutes’ walking distance from the beach, Ambassador Chicago offers well-appointed guestrooms with extra-large double beds, air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TV with cable channels, safety deposit box, and an ensuite bathroom with free toiletries. Extra facilities at the property include a bar, a coffee shop, an on-site restaurant, a 24-hour fitness center, and a movie screening room. Great for all kinds of travelers.
- Hotel Indigo Chicago Downtown – Set in the heart of the historic district of Chicago, the splendid hotel provides comfortable guestrooms with extra-large double beds, safety deposit box, flat-screen TV with pay-per-view channels, and ensuite bathroom with free toiletries. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant, fitness center, pet-friendly amenities, and a complimentary breakfast. Perfect for all kinds of travelers.
- Thompson Chicago – Located within 5 minutes’ walking distance from the beach, Thompson Chicago offers well-appointed guestrooms with modern facilities such as mini bar, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TV with pay-per-view channels and a DVD player, and an ensuite bathroom with free toiletries. The boutique hotel also offers on-site dining, a fitness center, and private parking. Suitable for all kinds of travelers.
West Loop/Near West Side
Home of the basketball legend Michael Jordan’s former stomping ground,, Near West Side is home to a number of Chicago’s well-admired cultural landmarks, including the Blues Brothers, the deep-dish pizza, the blues, and the Chicago-style hot dog. A major port of entry for Chicago throughout the 1800s and the early part of the 1900s, Near West Side was once home to Oprah Winfrey. Now recognized for the two culinary streets, Little Italy and Greektown, the neighborhood also comprises the West Loop, home of many elite restaurants, flourishing gallery scene, and quite a few museums. If you are here for the weekend, I suggest you don’t miss a visit to the New Maxwell Street Market.
Good for: All kinds of travelers, especially food-lovers.
Others Highlights: Jane Addams Hull House Museum, National Hellenic Museum, Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Donald Young Gallery, National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, and Saint Ignatius College Prep.
- Ace Hotel Chicago – Tucked away inside the happening restaurant scene of the Westside, Ace Hotel Chicago offers luxurious guestrooms with extra-large double beds, air-conditioning, flat-screen TV, iPod dock, safety deposit box, ensuite bathroom with free toiletries, and a plethora of other facilities. The hotel also features an on-site restaurant, a rooftop bar with nightly entertainment, a 24-hour fitness center, and a 24-hour front desk. Great for all kinds of travelers.
- Crowne Plaza – Chicago West Loop – Set in the heart of Chicago’s West Loop, this modern hotel offers fully-furnished guestrooms with extra-large double beds, air-conditioning, flat-screen TV with pay-per-view channels, and ensuite bathroom. Additional features at the hotel include a 24-hour fitness center, on-site bar and restaurant, and a delightful optional breakfast. Suitable for solo travelers and couples.