Lakeview is a busy section of Chicago that never seems to miss a beat. The area is a blend of shops, restaurants, bars, theaters and lakefront parks. Independent businesses and a flourishing theater district give Lakeview an artsy vibe, reinforced by an annual Fine Arts Festival that draws thousands every summer. But all year round, people flock to Lakeview for its wide selection of places to eat and boutique storefronts that sell the latest trends.
Originally a campsite for the Miami, Ottawa, and Winnebago Native American tribes, the area’s first European settler was Conrad Sulzer of Switzerland in 1837. Many other settlers followed in Sulzer’s footsteps and in 1853 the Hotel Lake View was built by James Rees and Elisha Hundley, offering postcard worthy views of Lake Michigan.
Nothing hurts a neighborhood like a cholera outbreak such as the one that hit Chicago in 1854. With many Chicagoans heading north to avoid the infection, they couldn’t help but notice the quaint atmosphere and scenic views the Lakeview area offered, prompting the incorporation of the Lakeview civil township in 1857. A commercial district emerged during the early 1900s with Clark Street and Diversey Parkway becoming a hot spot marketplace helping establish the area as a popular Chicago neighborhood.
Today, Lakeview is a mixture of brownstones, condos, and tree lined streets juxtaposed with the happening bar scene, assortment of shops on Lincoln Avenue and the neighborhood’s entertainment district.
Lakeview is approximately bordered by Irving Park Road to the north, Michigan Lake to the east, Diversey Parkway to the south and Ravenswood Avenue to the west.
Things to Do
There is plenty to do in Lakeview on any given night. If like a good comedy show, this neighborhood will take care of you with The ComedySportz Theater (929 W. Belmont Ave, 773-549-8080), Chemically Imbalanced Theater (1422 W Irving Park Rd, 773-865-7731) and iO Theater (3541 N Clark St, 773-880-0199) delivering constant laughs to audiences every night. It’s like having skilled surgeons work on your funny bone. And who can resist strange blue men having fun with marshmallows at the Briar Street Theater (3133 N. Halsted St, 773-348-4000) where Blue Man Group performs. Stage 773 (1225 W Belmont Ave, 773-327-5252), Timeline Theater (615 W Wellington Ave, 773-281-8463) and The Mercury Theater (3745 N Southport Ave, 773-325-1700) showcase high quality productions of both classics and contemporary material for those looking for a night out at the theater. And, of course, Lakeview is home to the legendary Music Box Theater (3745 N Southport Ave, 773-325-1700) where independent and foreign films are shown as well as classics across all genres.
Lakeview is home to many festivities, where the streets are shut down so bands, vendors, and huge crowds can drink and party. The Chicago festival season officially kicks off in the neighborhood with Mayfest (3100 N Ashland Ave, 773-665-4682) in – you guessed it – May. The Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival (Belmont & Sheffield, 773-584-6615), beginning the first weekend in June, continues the party with live music and vendors showcasing their delicious culinary delights. About a month later in July, the Taste of Lakeview (3200 N. Lincoln Ave, 773-665-4682) arrives along Lincoln and Belmont Avenue featuring more live music, arts and crafts, family activities and, of course, food. Add in the Chicago Pride Parade (starts at Broadway & Montrose), Northalsted Market Days (Halsted & Belmont), and the Rock Around the Block (3200 N. Lincoln Ave, 773-665-4682) fest and its plain to see that in the summer Lakeview is the place to be.
Dining & Nightlife
Dining in Lakeview is too good. Given the wide range of great spots to chow down at, it’s hard to decide sometimes. Gluten-free fans and those who don’t even know what gluten is delight in the delectable dishes served up at Senza (2873 N Broadway, 773-770-3527). This Lakeview favorite combines classic American staples served up with avant- garde flair.
Cozy Noodles and Rice (3456 N Sheffield Ave, 773-327-0100) gives every other Thai spot in the city a run for its money and the assortment of classic toys that align the walls are so much cooler than boring old pictures of the old country. The New England Seafood Company Fish Market (3341 N Lincoln Ave, 773-871-3474) on Lincoln takes care of your seafood cravings while Kuma’s Too (666 W. Diversey Pkwy, 773-472-2666) makes sure that the good ol’ fashioned hamburger gets its due in this trendy neighborhood.
Live music surrounds Lakeview with Metro (3730 N Clark St, 773-549-4140), Elbo Room (2871 N Lincoln Ave, 773-549-5549), Schubas (3159 N Southport Ave, 773-525-2508) and The Vic Theater (3145 N Sheffield Ave, 773-472-0449) all showcasing up and coming bands as well as established acts on a weekly basis.
If you had your fill of riffs and drum fills, head over to Headquarters Beercade (2833 N Sheffield Ave, 773-665-5660) where the drinks are always flowing and the assortment of classic arcade games are all free to play. Smart Bar (3730 N Clark St, 773-549-4140) will take care of your electronic music fix while Guthrie’s Tavern (1300 W Addison St, 773-477-2900) provides a more relaxed atmosphere to drink. Basically, if you can’t find a bar that caters to your taste in Lakeview, it simply doesn’t exist.
The intersection of Belmont and Clark provides a shopping experience one will not find anywhere else in the city or burbs. Get your favorite band t-shirts, piercings, tats, and leather ensembles at The Alley (3228 N Clark St, 773-883-1800), which is also home to the Architectural Revolution, Taboo Tabou, and Blue Havana. Strange Cargo (3448 N Clark St, 773-327-8090) provides vintage apparel for guys and gals including a huge assortment of hilarious t-shirts and knick-knacks galore. They even have Michael Jackson Valentine cards and New Kids on the Block trading cards. The Belmont Army Surplus (855 W Belmont Ave, 773-549-1038) has the proper boots you need for a Chicago winter while Ragstock (812 W Belmont Ave, 773-868-9263) just down the street has a wide assortment of vintage and recycled clothes from the 60s to the 90s. Unabridged Books (3251 N Broadway, 773-883-9119) will make you never walk into a Barnes & Nobles again. Chicago Comics (3244 N Clark St, 773-528-1983) on Clark takes care of your Spider-Man and Batman needs in addition to a large collection of graphic novels and trade paperbacks that will prepare you for a life of fighting crime.
Places to Stay
When it comes time to rest your weary head after a night of taking in everything Lakeview has to offer, book a room at the Best Western (3434 N Broadway, 773-244-3434), which offers easy access to all of Lakeview and is close to the CTA Red Line. Another great place to stay nearby is the Majestic Hotel (528 W Brompton Ave, 773-404-3499) that’s just off Lake Shore Drive. A unique option is the Willows Hotel (555 W Surf St, 773-528-8400) – a quiet boutique hotel that combines the appeal of a French country home with the conveniences of the 21st century.