Flowing through Chicago’s Near North Side district, the River North neighbourhood is home to the city’s most famous shopping street, nicknamed the Magnificent Mile. It also harbours a thriving entertainment and ethnic dining enclave, as well as Lincoln Park, Wrigley Field and long stretches of beach along Lake Michigan. It represents the cultural, artistic and fashionista side of the Windy City.
Vintage-style arcade bars are the rage in River North, particularly off the main shopping strip, with huge collections of throwback video games and craft beer, earning the moniker of “beercades.” The arts thrive as well, with the Lookingglass Theatre putting a zany twist on classic literature and mythology, and the House of Blues cranking out real-deal blues, soul and gospel tunes throughout the week. The Museum of Broadcast Communications is for media enthusiasts, hosting the National Radio Hall of Fame, letting visitors get hands-on with interactive TV exhibits and displaying memorabilia from classic shows such as I Love Lucy, Seinfeld and MTV.
River North spreads westward from the Magnificent Mile, formally Michigan Avenue, and is bounded by Chicago Avenue and the Chicago River. It sits north of the Loop, which is Chicago’s downtown district. Visitors can access the River North by the Metra commuter train, Red and Brown CTA bus lines or by car via Lake Shore Drive or Kennedy Expressway. It’s easy to hail a taxi or rent a bike from numerous bike-sharing stations on main roadways and parks.
The chic River North streets and squares have a grittier foundation, once a thriving industrial and warehouse district, and later the subcultural domain of artists and writers living in abandoned warehouse lofts. Its artistic undercurrent is still evident in the high number of independent art galleries, small antique stores and fresh-faced designer boutiques dotting the district.