The Gold Coast neighborhood’s origins stem back to millionaire Potter Palmer who moved to the area after the Great Chicago Fire. Palmer built the forty-two room Palmer Mansion between 1882-1885 and soon the elite of Chicago society made themselves at home in this quaint and refined area.
In 1978 the district was added to the National Register of Historic Places. During the 1980s, the Gold Coast held the distinction of being the second most-affluent neighborhood in the country, behind only Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The annual walking tours of the neighborhood’s Astor Street District show off the homes of Chicago’s wealthy and elite from time gone by including the original Playboy Mansion, the Archbishop’s Residence, the Patterson McCormick Mansion and the Florsheim Mansion, which greets visitors with the quote, “Dwell in the Birthplace of Modernity.”
The Gold Coast extends from North Avenue south to Chicago Avenue and from the lake west to Clark Street.
Things to Do
The always bustling rows of bars along Rush and Division show that Chicago knows how to party with the best of them on a nightly basis. Establishments like The Lodge (21 W Divison St, 312-642-4406), Streeter’s Tavern (50 E Chicago Ave, 312-944-5206), and The Original Mother’s (26 W Division St, 312-642-7251) cater to everyone from CEOs to college kids.
The Gold Coast is restaurant heaven with Chicago hallmarks like the Pump Room (1301 N State Pkwy, 312-229-6740), Gibson’s Bar (1028 N Rush St, 312-266-8999) and Tavern on Rush (1031 N Rush St, 312-664-9600) catering to locals and celebrities alike. Whether you’re in the mood for a beer and a burger, seafood, or a good ol’ perfectly cooked steak, you and your taste buds are in good hands at these Chicago favorites.
If you’re looking for something outside of the typical, head over to Bistro Zinc (1131 N State St, 312-337-1131) where the French cuisine is second to none or Merlo on Maple (16 W Maple St, 312-335-8200) for Italian dishes that will make you swear off Olive Garden forever. Of course, sometimes nothing will hit the spot like a true Chicago hot dog. In that case, check out Downtown Dogs (804 N Rush St, 312-951-5141) to take care of all your double cheddar cheese dog needs.
When it comes to shopping, you’d be hard pressed to find a better area than the Gold Coast. After all, the Mag Mile stretches into the neighborhood offering a who’s who of shops from Ann Taylor (845 N Michigan Ave, 312-573-2775) and Express (845 N Michigan Ave, 312-385-5995) to Ralph Lauren (750 N Michigan Ave, 312-280-1655) and Timberland (625 N Michigan Ave, 888-802-9947). However, if the crowds are getting to be a bit too much then just head over to the shops and boutiques that adorn Oak Street where you can find Prada (30 E Oak St, 312-951-1113), Barneys New York (15 E Oak St, 312-596-1111) and Kate Spade (56 E Oak St, 312-654-8853). If your bank account allows it you might be able to actually buy a little something.
Each July the Dearborn Garden Walk and Heritage Fest (45 W. North Blvd, 312-632-1241) lets visitors take in the award winning landscaping creations of more than 20 private gardens featuring beautiful sculptures, serene fountains, and enough flowers to make your garden at home look bleak. If art fairs are your thing, the neighborhood has you covered with the Gold Coast Art Fair (Monroe & Lake Shore Drive, 847-926-4300). The three-day fest, the largest in Chicago, draws heavy crowds as artists from every corner of the world display their work amid lines of food stands and live music.
Places to Stay
Hotel Indigo (1244 N Dearborn Pkwy, 312-787-4980) offers lodging with a boutique flare, welcoming guests with world class hospitality amid the backdrop of the Mag Mile. Catering to the sophisticated traveler or just someone from the ‘burbs who wants to live in Gold Coast luxury for a weekend, the Thompson Hotel (21 E Bellevue Pl, 312-266-2100) gives guests a plush experience while being close to all the action. The Millennium Knickerbocker (163 E Walton Pl, 312-751-8100) and the Drake Hotel (140 E Walton Pl, 312-787-2200) will make it hard to want to leave while the Gold Coast Guest House (113 W Elm St, 312-337-0361) is the area’s best bed and breakfast.